In the midst of a city education crisis, Buffalo Schools Superintendent Pamela Brown kicked off the first in a series of 'listening tours' and community conversations Monday at the downtown library, part of the district's Pathways to Success effort that include community conversations.
As part of our Focus on Education reporting, WBFO senior reporter Eileen Buckley says the superintendent encouraged the community to help in several areas.
"We must take this whatever it takes attitude, that is one of my core believes,” said superintendent Brown.
Despite being embroiled in recent controversy over administrative hires, Superintendent Brown boldly spoke about the school district's efforts to focus on academic excellence for students. She promises improvements in the graduation rate.
"Our on time four year graduation rates from high school will be at least 80% by 2018. This past year we saw an increase from 48 to 56%," said Brown.
But this first listening, held on a weekday, during the noon hour, drew only a small crowd. It did include of school board members and two school board candidates as well as a few city school parents.
One of those parents asked how the district will deal with Tuesday's start of assessments for third through 8th graders for English Language Arts. Some parents plan to have their children opt out, but must districts must follow a "sit and stare" policy for students.
Superintendent Brown said they have no choice to follow that rule under state law.
“We can’t let them get a book and read it. Children are not suppose to have access to different literature or print during the testing, but they will have the test,” said Brown.
Brown calls on city parents to ask their children to do their best for the assessment testing.
Brown urged the community to get involved in the school district, asking for mentors for students. She encourages school parents to get their kids to class each day. The superintendent also noted there would be a "much more rigorous" in future screening to hire staffers in the future to work throughout the city district.