Buffalo schools open in a month and a large group of clergy, activists, parents and school leaders turned out Monday night in Friendship Baptist Church for an emergency meeting to discuss what they see as an educational crisis.
Recent state results indicate some improvement in achievement in Buffalo schools, though the consensus from the meeting shows that much more needs to be accomplished.
"There's not a magic bullet that's going to fix our education system, " said Duncan Kirkwood of the Northeast Charter Schools Network, one of the event's sponsors.
"We have cultural issues. We have community issues. We have divisiveness, " said Kirkwood, adding that a key need is for absolute accountability, especially for principals
Daniel Brink-Washington added a personal perspective. He's charter middle school teacher with a wife and a young child.
"The house that we are renting over on the West Side of Buffalo, it's only being rented to us because two University of Buffalo professors had school-age children, couldn't find the matches for schools that they were looking for, so they moved to Snyder."
Some talk focused on the need for better role models for students, especially those who live in some of the city's economically-devastated neighborhoods.
"There are a lot of people that are trying but when you are trying against odds that are highly stacked against you, it's really hard to show something other than struggle," acknowledged Friendship Baptist Pastor Edward Jackson
"Our goal is to show even in the midst of struggle, there can be success and there can be victories. But, we have to do such a better job of showing that."
Jackson says many successful Black men give back and try to help in a city where only a quarter of Black males graduate from high school. He says just watching won't help and something needs to be actively done.