State Supreme Justice J. Scott Odorisi has ruled that the referendum sought by Mayor Lovely Warren in reference to the future of City Schools is illegal. Mayor Warren wanted voters to decide whether a temporary state takeover of the City School District is needed, and was seeking a November referendum on the matter. The city filed a notice of appeal within four hours of the decision. Mayor Warren delivered the following Letter to the Children of the City of Rochester in response to RCSD lawsuit decision.
To the Children of the City of Rochester:
Today is truly a sad day. You and your families have suffered for decades. Told to accept and be grateful for a broken system. A system that fails to educate and teach you the very knowledge necessary to succeed. A system that leaves far too many of you without a fighting chance at life. A system that denies you access to even a faint glimmer of the American dream.
The recent court decision is a grave injustice. But, unfortunately, I am not surprised. I am sure that you are not surprised. It is just the most recent example where adults twist and abuse the law to protect themselves – at you and your family’s expense. You are the unseen, the unheard, the forgotten. You live, struggle and suffer while politicians, bureaucrats and the supposed givers of charity profit and pay only lip service, if that, to your reality.
It’s no accident that the court filings of the school district fail to mention you and your families. Not once are you the concern of school district and its lawyers. Because this court case was about one thing: denying you the right to be heard. Denying your parents and grandparents the right to vote. Protecting their ability to profit while continuing to deny you opportunity.
What is happening in Rochester is no different than what is happening in Washington. We have the powerful working every day to protect the status quo and deny you the opportunity to live to your fullest potential. Why? I believe they see you as a threat. That denying you a quality education is the only way to protect what they have. That is truly sad and shameful. Because I know that we can, and we will, one day, lift each other up. That your very education is the key to a better city, a better community and better nation for all. That your success is what will deliver and strengthen the American Dream for all people regardless of where we were born, what we look like or who we love.
I will continue to fight every day to achieve this vision; to dismantle what is broken and build together a system that will provide you a quality education and a fighting chance at life. We will appeal this unjust court decision. We will take this fight to the halls of Albany and demand our legislators act. We will ensure that your voice is heard, and you are provided the education and opportunity that are your right.
We know that we will win this fight because we have won before. In our very city, our guiding light, Frederick Douglass shared with us what is needed from all people of caring, love and conscience today:
“At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed … For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.”
Douglass spoke of our nation, certainly the same applies to our community today. I ask all of you to heed his words and recommit ourselves to this fight. We cannot rest until each of you has access to knowledge necessary to fully share in the future of our city and, indeed, the entirety of the American Dream.
Join me in this fight. Don’t despair, but work hard and, together, let our voices be heard in every hall of power. Together, we will deliver the change that builds better schools, a better city and a better community for all. Because as Douglass said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand.”
Mayor Lovely A. Warren