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.

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.

Cuomo slips in poll on education issues

Mar 6, 2012

In a new poll released Monday, voters give Governor Andrew Cuomo mixed reviews on his education policies.

They say they like a new agreement on teacher evaluations, but a narrow margin say the governor is overall making the problems in the education system worse.

The poll, by Siena College, asked voters whether they think a new teacher evaluation system brokered by Governor Cuomo will improve the quality of education in New York.

Siena’s Steve Greenberg says 50 percent say they think it would, while 38 percent believed it would have no effect.

WBFO News file photo

The search for a new Buffalo schools superintendent is heating up with public meetings to let citizens talk about the qualities of who should eventually sit in the City Hall office.

Mike Desmond was at a meeting last night in Hamlin Park School 74.

The school board hopes to have a superintendent in place by summer and has Cascade Consulting Group doing the search.

That Seattle-based firm is promising 60-meetings in the process, including talking to students about the superintendent's job.

WBFO News photo by Jim Pastrick

Erie Community College North Campus hosted a collaborative discussion about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.   The event was held Thursday as part of Black History Month celebrations.  

WBFO's Jim Pastrick listened as students and faculty discuss Dr. King's "drum major" speech.

Photo from Medaille College Website

A new program at Medaille College is becoming a popular major at the school.   About six months ago the school launched a Bachelor of Science in Homeland Security. 

The director of the program says it  is attracting the attention of students.

"We almost tripled enrollment from single digits up into the high double digits.  The program is appearing to be very popular," said Steven MacMartin is a clinical assistant professor and director of the Homeland Security program at Medaille. 

Photo provided by Brian Trzeciak Citizen Action of New York/Alliance for Quality Education

Parents and community leaders are demanding that the Buffalo Board of Education approve a new school suspension policy. 

They gathered on the steps of Buffalo City Hall late Wednesday morning in the rain to call for the Jawaan Daniels Student Safety Resolution.  

Daniels was a Lafayette High School student who was shot and killed while standing at a bus stop last year after he was suspended for loitering in the halls.   

WBFO News file photo

Interim Buffalo Schools Superintendent Amber Dixon says it is time for her to say yes to apply for the possible as a permanent superintendent. 

It was a question Dixon would not answer after taking over four months ago when James Williams retired. 

But now Dixon wants to be considered as a candidate. 

"And I think it is time to say yes. I think we have moved this district in the right direction," said Dixon.

Dixon recently  reached agreement with the school board on the seven models for the schools improvement grants. 

Finding Kind photo

As the topic of bullying remains in the forefront in the wake of the local death of Williamsville North High School student  Jamey Rodemeyer  a private school in Amherst will be screening a documentary about  bulling. 

The Park School will feature "Finding Kind".   It focuses on girl to girl aggression and bullying.    WBFO'S Eileen Buckley talked to young women who are the filmakers of "Finding Kind".

Lauren Parsekian and Molly Thompson are 2009 graduates of Pepperdine University  in Malibu, California.  

New York State Education Commissioner John King, Jr. has suspended School Improvement Grant (SIG) funding for all 10 SIG school districts in the state.  That includes Buffalo.