The WBFO Education News Desk is funded by KeyBank Foundation.

Cafeteria Chats and Student Journals are part of American Graduate – Let’s Make It Happen – a public media initiative to address the drop out crisis, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to help local communities keep more students on the path to graduation.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Interim Buffalo School Superintendent Amber Dixon is speaking out for the first time about not being selected to lead the city school district.  

Dixon tells WBFO & AM-970 News she is "disappointed" about not being selected to lead the city school district.

In a recent 7 to 2 vote, the school board recently selected Dr. Pamela Brown, a  former Philadelphia school administrator.  She will also become the first African-American woman to hold the permanent post. 

Elliott named Buffalo's "Distinguished Educator"

Jun 25, 2012

A Western New York native will return to her roots in an effort to boost some of the city's lowest-achieving schools.

State officials have named Judy Elliott as the Buffalo School District's "Distinguished Educator."

Elliott most recently served as chief academic officer with Los Angeles city schools. She is a 1978 Kenmore East graduate who earned a bachelor's degree at Buffalo State College.

Elliott's part-time salary will be paid for by the Buffalo district, which is expected to be reimbursed by the state.


The relentless taunting of a 68-year-old school bus monitor in the Greece School District spawned an international rally against bullying.

When a ten-minute video went viral on YouTube, more than a quarter-million dollars was raised for Karen Klein. 

7th & 8th grade boys bullied and taunted Klein on a school bus Monday about her appearance, calling her fat and even making threats. 

Photo from UB Website

The University at Buffalo appears to be one of the first campuses in the Buffalo area to implement Gender-Neutral Housing.  This will allow couples of the opposite sex to now live together in campus housing.

"We would have request from time to time from students who were looking for housing options that didn't restrict them from living with individuals who identified either as male or female," said Brian Haggerty, UB's senior associate director of campus living.

WBFO News file photo

Buffalo's Public Schools will be under the leadership of a new superintendent in the fall, with the election of Dr. Pamela Brown to head the district.    The city school board voted 7-2 Wednesday night in favor of the veteran educator.

"Such a very vital position. Everyone has strong feelings.   We strived to come up with a unanimous decision," said School Board President Lou Petrucci following Wednesday night's nomination and public vote at City Hall. 

WBFO News file photo

Buffalo Public School teachers have signed off on a teacher evaluation plan after nearly six-months of exchanges with the state education department and Buffalo School District.

Buffalo Teachers Federation president Phil Rumore said the evaluation agreement finally makes sense to teachers.   This agreement paves the way for more than $5 million in improvement grants for six failing city schools.

"After three days of meetings, the teachers at the effective school hammered out an agreement that they felt was fair," said Rumore. 

High school graduation rates are showing a slight improvement across the state, but still remain too low for students to be competitive.  That is according to the New York State Education Department that released rates Monday. 

Image from Clarence Central School District Website

Business First is out with its annual list of Best Elementary schools in Western NewYork.   According to the paper and WBFO and AM 970's Mark Leitner, there's been changing of the guard in the academic rankings. 

We kind of grew accustomed to seeing a first place finish for the Southern Tier Catholic Elementary School.  But today, there's a new number one.    

Mark Leitner/WBFO

The third and final candidate for the Buffalo Schools Superintendents' job met the press at City Hall Monday afternoon.  Dr. Pamela Brown, like the other finalists, brings to the table a wealth of experience, especially, in urban education. 

Brown has been a top administrator in Philadelphia, Richmond, Va, and the Charlotte-Mecklinburg district in North Carolina.  She is Stanford and Harvard-educated and she received her Ph.D from Harvard. 

State approves Buffalo schools teacher evaluation plan

May 30, 2012
Mike Desmond/WBFO

The long and tangled fight over millions of dollars to help bail out Buffalo's six worst-performing schools may be nearing a resolution.

State Education Commissioner John King Wednesday said he will approve the latest deal between the Buffalo Teachers Federations and the school district when it is formally signed by interim Schools Superintendent Amber Dixon and BTF President Phil Rumore.

A series of prior deals was rejected by Albany or by union members.  The sides have struggled for months over finding a plan that is acceptable to all interests. 

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

When the new Buffalo schools superintendent is selected, they can expected to receive a book authored by community stakeholders. 

As part of the Say Yes to Education program, a special project is being launched by a long-time, local education expert.  It is called “Letters to the Superintendent”.

Anyone who has a vested interest in the Buffalo's public schools. parents. grandparents, teachers and community leaders, all are invited to write a letter to the new superintendent.

Two of the three candidates to succeed former Buffalo Schools superintendent James Williams met with reporters Thursday afternoon at City Hall.  

Edward Newsome Junior, currently an an assistant superintendent in Baltimore County, Maryland; and interim Buffalo Schools Chief Amber Dixon.  A third candidate was out of town.  

WBFO News file photo

Interim Buffalo Schools superintendent Amber Dixon was the recent guest speaker at the Coalition of Arts Providers for Children.   It is a group area arts in education professionals. 

The conversation with Dixon was designed to hear about the superintendent's commitment to arts in a child's life.  Dixon spoke candidly in a nearly hour conversation. She was asked how the arts played a role when she was a student.

Poll shows public supports BTF position

May 8, 2012
WBFO News file photo

A majority of voters side with Buffalo's teachers in the ongoing controversy regarding a teachers evaluation plan.

According to the Buffalo News, the independent poll found 51 percent of those surveyed agreed with the need to factor student absenteeism into any evaluation plan.

Pollster Barry Zeplowitz said that 78 percent of respondents are aware of the controversy surrounding teacher evaluations.

The poll also found only 32 percent of respondents approve of the work of the Buffalo School Board.

St. Bona names new dean of journalism

May 8, 2012
Photo provided by St. Bonaventure University

St. Bonaventure University in Olean has named a new dean of Russell J. Jandoli School of Journalism and Mass Communication. 

Interim dean Pauline Hoffmann, Ph.D was appointed to the position effective immediately. 

Hoffman has been serving in the interim role this academic year.   She succeeds Lee Coppla who retired at the end of the 2010-11 academic year after serving 15-years as dean. 

The Buffalo Public Schools District received word from the State Education Department Thursday that it would approve improvement grants for six city schools.

The Education Department says it approved six of seven school improvement grants, but only if the district is able to reach agreement with on a teacher evolution plan with the Buffalo Teachers Federation by July 1.

"We are the adults in this city, every one of us, and the only people being hurt by this are the kids in this city," said interim Schools Superintendent Amber Dixon.

Johns Hopkins withdraws from Buffalo schools plan

May 2, 2012

Johns Hopkins University will not be coming this fall to help turnaround two of Buffalo's low-achieving schools.

The Baltimore university announced their decision yesterday after the school district failed to produce a state-approved teacher evaluation plan.

Johns Hopkins officials told the Buffalo News the issue would inhibit their ability to properly prepare for the start of the coming school year at Lafayette and East high schools. The university has left the door opened to helping Buffalo schools in the future.

Chris Caya/WBFO

The New York State Board of Regents today followed a recommendation to close Pinnacle Charter School in June at the end of the current school year.

The Education Department recommended the school closing because of persistent sub-par scores on state tests. There is no appeal process, although school officials were meeting with legal counsel Tuesday about a possible lawsuit to block the closing.

Parents, teachers, and students have been rallying in recent days to keep the school open.

SUNY Fredonia's new leader

Mar 29, 2012
Photo provided Michael R. Barone, Director of Public Relations SUNY Fredonia

SUNY Fredonia has a brand new leader.  Dr. Virginia Schaefer Horvath is the 13th president to lead Fredonia and was introduced to the campus Thursday.

She was recently appointed by the SUNY Board of Trustees.  Dr. Horvath currently served as Vice President for Academic Affairs at SUNY Fredonia. She held that position since joining the campus in 2005. 

Horvath to be SUNY Fredonia's first female president

Mar 28, 2012

For the first time in its 186-year history, a woman has been appointed president of SUNY Fredonia. 

Dr. Virginia Schaefer Horvath, who has served as vice president for academic affairs at the college since 2005, will become the college's 13th president when she takes over July 1.  The SUNY Board of Trustees unanimously approved Horvath's appointment today after she was recommended by Chancellor Nancy Zimpher last week.

The 54-year-old Horvath is an Amherst native who was chosen from a field of more than 50 candidates.  She will earn an annual salary of $205,000. 

WBFO News file photo

The fight over millions of dollars to help turn around the city's seven most troubled schools is becoming more tangled, with the State Education Department rejecting the third deal between the schools and the Buffalo Teachers Federation over principal and teacher evaluations.

The teachers union met Tuesday night only hours after the notice form Albany on the rejection of the school improvement grant.

"I equate this with a teacher going into a class and giving a test to the class on a lesson they haven't taught," said Phil Rumore, president of the BTF.

Daniel Robison / WBFO

In recent years, there have been more accusations of cheating in chess, due in part to the proliferation of smart phones. Now, a professor in Buffalo claims he’s found a way root it out.

But Kenneth Regan's methods aren’t accepted by everyone.


Every chess player has his or her own style. Russian Vladimir Kramnik likes to take bathroom breaks during matches. That got him in some trouble five years ago.

Buffalo school officials and teachers union leaders have met a deadline by sending to Albany, at the 11th hour, a memorandum of understanding concerning teacher evaluations.

Student absenteeism has been a major bone of contention in talks between the two sides.  Buffalo can secure several million additional state education dollars, but the district and the union must agree on a rigorous teacher evaluation system whether or not students show up for class. 

Photo provided by SUNY

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher has announced that will recommend Virginia Schaefer Horvath to serve as the next president of SUNY Fredonia. 

The appointment will be considered by the SUNY Board of Trustees at the next meeting March 28, 2012.

Daniel Robison / WBFO

A new bill in Congress would incentivize businesses to hire more interns.

The Workforce-Ready Educate America Act would deliver a $1,000 tax credit for each student given an internship. Congresswoman Kathy Hochul (D-NY) is expected to introduce the measure within a few weeks.

Chris Caya/WBFO

A day-long conference on bullying on the UB North Campus attracted nearly 800 people Wednesday.

The 9th Annual Safe Schools Initiative Seminar was sponsored in part by the Secret Service and the office of U.S. Attorney William Hochul.  He said statistics indicate most students will be victimized at some point during elementary school and 35% of 'chronic bullies' end up in prison.

Photo from Maureen Orth's Website

Social justice is the theme of a forum to be held Wednesday evening at Nardin Academy in Buffalo. 

A panel discussion will feature keynote speaker Maureen Orth.  Orth is a special correspondent for Vanity Fair magazine and Peace Corps volunteer.

Orth is also the widow of the late Tim Russert and mother of NBC reporter Luke Russert.

The Buffalo School Board could be voting soon on laying off dozens of employees after leaders of the teacher's union approved keeping an attendance clause in the district's teacher evaluation agreement.

Albany insists chronically absent students must count.  The dispute is holding up $9 million in funding for six of Buffalo's low-achieving schools. 

Chris Caya/WBFO

With more than $9 million at risk, Buffalo's Board of Education is appealing to the teachers union for help. 

At a special meeting today, the School Board unanimously approved a resolution asking the Buffalo Teachers Federation Council of Delegates to reconsider removing the student attendance clause from its teacher evaluation plan.  Interim Superintendent Amber Dixon says state education officials won't accept a plan that excludes students with excessive absences. 

The pressure appears to be mounting on the Buffalo Teachers Federation as the Buffalo school district scrambles to save $9 million in state funding.

At a special meeting at noon Tuesday, the Buffalo School Board is expected to formally request that the Buffalo Teachers Federation drop its request that any new teacher evaluation system account for the district's dismal student attendance record.