Buffalo schools open with hope for improvement

Sep 6, 2016

With Buffalo schools opening for another year, the issues of academic achievement will again surface. This is a system where only a quarter of Black males graduate, in a student body which is around three-quarters minority and immigrant.

It's more and more an issue with Say Yes offering the chance for a college education for all city public and charter students. With Superintendent Kriner Cash in his second year, there is some stability at the top, with Cash's Educational Bargain is in place.

Opinions vary on the state of the district and its future.

"At minimum, we're moving in the right direction. We got a long way to go. We're nowhere near where we need to be, but we're not getting worse," said Sam Radford of the District Parent Coordinating Council

"No matter how you measure the scores, the scores are an improvement from the year before."

As a parent with some children in the district, Radford offers a hands-on perspective. He has seen one son flourish after he attended Hutch Tech, traditionally one of the district's top-performing schools. The son now attends Florida State University.

There are also parents like Ebony who pulled her six-year-old out of a regular public school and into a charter school. Ebony says her child wasn't being pushed enough.
"Papers were coming back home blank. And, that, of course, led me to go into the school like:  Okay. What's going on? Why aren't you calling me, let me know what I can do on my side?" Ebony recalled.

"As a parent we should be as involved. Some times, parents get those papers and they just look and if the teacher isn't worried, I'm not worried and then, when they fail they say: Well, it's the teachers fault. No, it's as much the parent's fault as the teacher's."

So, no matter how you measure the scores, the scores are an improvement from the year before. We're starting to see some of the results from Common Core. I think we're seeing some of the the results of the rigorous things that are associated with the Common Core.)

Most of those teachers are White and that's also an issue in the school system and some highly vocal education activists say the district needs more Black and minority role models to encourage students to do better academically.