School Daze

I’ve been watching the Buffalo School District shenanigans with some interest. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but with three smart kids working their way through the system since 1994, I like to think that I’m an educated customer at the very least.

After almost 17 years as a customer you pick up on a few things, leaders who say “they are working for the children” almost never are, the great magnet schools of times of yore are a shell of their Eugene Reville led selves, “No Child Left Behind” is doing precisely that, many folks don’t understand charter schools, and in spite of that, good things continue to happen in the Buffalo schools. We tend to generalize which is bad, because the same mentality that makes gas prices go up because a speculator says so, has people afraid of some schools because of what they “heard.” I have been pleased with the bulk of our results, but we do to meetings, adminstrators know who we are, the meetings organizers know us, and slowly we are getting to slip out of the full time troublemaker role.

Pick your charter schools carefully. There are some excellent ones and some clunkers too, but there isn’t one blanket solution to a district that has a myriad of problems.

A lawsuit from a few years ago showcased what I think was a fundamental problem of the Williams years. One family sued to change the admission standards at City Honors and the district actually looked into doing that. Let’s not waste the time or resources on that and actually, encourage the kid to work a little harder and perhaps even give teachers at other schools some of the tools that City Honors has received.

I think the district got a little too in love with the favorable reviews City Honors would get from Newsweek and US News and World Report.

A boycott of the schools? I don’t think that will accomplish anything. Like anything around here, the search for a big grand gesture is silly.  It takes lots of little efforts ongoing to make progress on the whole picture. You can’t till the water is up to your chin to start taking swimming lessons.

I think the superintendent hasn’t been as forthcoming as he could have been in well, everything. The teachers union head? him neither.

Rearranging principals at failing schools was a dumb attempt on the district’s part to address a problem without really working at it.

And that is fundamentally the problem, everybody has to work on it together.

We get that, watch out.


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