Regent Collins delivers speech on 'The Crisis in Black Education'

Feb 24, 2017

New York State Regent Catherine Collins served as the keynote speaker at a Black History Month Celebration Thursday.  Collins delivered an address at The Eighth Judicial District Diversity Steering Committee event held in Erie County's Ceremonial Courtroom. WBFO's Senior Reporter Eileen Buckley says Collins discussed “The Crisis in Black Education". 

The Eighth Judicial District Diversity Steering Committee Black History event at Erie County Court.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

New York State Board of Regent Catherine Collins served as the keynote speaker at a Black History Month Celebration Thursday discussing “The Crisis in Black Education".
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

“I believe that one of the keys that can open the door to achievement is reading,” said Collins.

Regent Collins stressed the importance of reading in order for African-American children to succeed in school and enhance their learning.

“I believe that the deficiency in reading skills has had tremendous effect on the academic placement of African-American children and to special education classes. In Western New York, we have 32,000 students in special education,” declared Collins.

As a former Buffalo School board member and school nurse, Collins points out that students, who have lack of ability to concentrate and pay attention, are often given "medications, not meditation.”

“Many of them come from environments where they can’t go outside, they can’t be safe in their own homes, more or less out on the street, and then they come to school and they’re antsy, they can’t sit still and people say, 'Oh they’re hyperactive.’ Ok, let’s get a physiologist. Let’s get this kid tested,” Collins remarked.

Collins said too many children are being raised in single family homes and that 40,000 people in Erie County don't have a high school diploma.  Collins wants to see these parents brought back to the classrooms. 

“How do we expect them to sit at a kitchen table, work with their kids on Common Core reading, Common Core math,” declared Collins.

Collins suggests the creation of parents centers to assist families with their child's school life.

Collins is also concerned about the expanding teacher shortage and the effect it could have on children.

“Because we want to develop a career ladder for our teaching assistance to teachers. We need to have monies, so those young women and men, who sit in our classroom, who bring the most diversity to our school system – who know a lot about the children and their families,” stated Collins. 

Collins closed her remarks saying she firmly believes being “caring” and “creative” will make difference in a student's success.  

Audience attending The Eighth Judicial District Diversity Steering Committee Black History Celebration.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Along with The Eighth Judicial District Diversity Steering Committee, Thursday’s Black History Month Celebration event was also hosted by The Eighth Judicial District Gender & Racial Fairness Committee, The Minority Bar Foundation, and The Women’s Bar Association of the State of NY, WNY Chapter Diversity Committee and The Erie County Bar Association Minority Outreach Committee. You can listen to the entire event here.

Honorable E. Jeannette Ogden serves as chair of the Gender & Racial Fairness Committee. The State Supreme Court Justice reacted to the speech delivered by Regent Collins.

“I think she did hit a homerun and I think her speech was very informative,” replied Ogden. 

In her formal remarks, Ogden told those gathered they have been addressing the crisis of black education “for centuries,” but not always having solutions. 

“And what she did was recommend some solution that are really possible – things that everyone can do – and for that I really thing she hit a homerun,” Ogden remarked.