Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren used her State of the City address on Tuesday night to not only list recent accomplishments and future goals, but also to sharply criticize the situation with the city schools.
The speech was given at School 17 in the JOSANA (Jay Orchard Street Area Neighborhood Association) neighborhood, which some call the community beacon school. Warren used the school as an example of what she says city schools could be.
Several years ago School 17 went into receivership – which indicates that a school needs special attention by the state due to its low academic ranking.
After investment from community agencies, grants, and increases in funding for students -- School 17 is now considered a hub for the community and is scheduled to be removed from the receivership list this summer.
Warren said that as mayor, there isn’t much she can do legally to impact the city schools, but she called on the community to work with state education officials and state lawmakers to effect change in the district.
“I will work with all stakeholders: parents, the community, city and state to find a real solution. Everything should be on the table, because our children’s future is at stake,” Warren told the hundreds gathered at School 17.
Warren said that solution must come from state level and asked the community to support the findings of the distinguished educator (Jamie Aquino), work with State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, and state lawmakers to come up with a school system that provides equality for everyone.
Warren also said the city will adopt a blueprint for Rochester's growth, called Rochester 2034, which would be the city's 200th birthday. Warren notes that her daughter and her classmates will celebrate their 23rd birthdays in 2034.
"I hope that they’ll look back and say that we reduced childhood poverty. We decreased our infant mortality rates. Added playable, safe neighborhoods, created jobs and new business opportunities. Let’s give our children a city they can celebrate on its 200th birthday," Warren said.
During her address Warren pledged to rename the Campbell Street R-Center as the Tyshaun Caldwell R-Center for Hope in memory of 10-year-old Tyshaun Caldwell who was killed in 2001. He was a student at the school which is connected to the center. His murder, which happened near School 17, led to outrage in the community and spured change. Caldwell’s mother, Charlotte Freeman , was at the address and remembers the community response.
“When my son was killed. Everyone just came together," she said. "We did marches, we did everything.”
She and others who live around School 17 founded the JOSANA Neighborhood Association shortly Caldwell's death.
Videography by WXXI's Martin Kaufman: