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“After school is over…”

Education is the silver bullet. Schools should be palaces. Teachers ought to be making six figures salaries”

That was part of a pretty high minded speech from one of the admittedly high minded characters on the West Wing. It was one of the shows that I admittedly had a problem, never missed it. But that piece of dialogue had a point.  I got myself over and made sure I voted in the school board elections in the City of Buffalo on Tuesday. I don’t pretend to know all the answers by any stretch of the imagination, but the school board has some issues that could spill over into volumes.  With one child still in the system, I’m keeping my eyes peeled for sure. He’s in a good school that is working and his mother and I are grateful for that. But the world is a different place than when our eldest entered the system 20 years ago. I don’t know how many parents remembered the magnet system and it seems to have slipped the minds of a lot of the board folks. I am not philosophically aligned with some of the more public folks screaming for reform, but you got to admit, they have a point. This thing isn’t working. There are teachers doing incredible work against staggering odds and the winds aren’t going to start blowing in their favor anytime soon. That is a tragedy. Because that is where things matter.

Perhaps it is getting looked at “behind the scenes” but there doesn’t seem to be much urgency in fixing what is failing. The rush to transfer has created another problem in the whole “where do you transfer them to?” I mean let’s fix stuff too, not just relocate problems.

Voter turnouts are always low and that’s too bad, because I don’t think folks realize what all that means. If the schools have a lousy reputation, the district run by the keystone kops, the ramifications are huge. If a business is trying to recruit talent, “what are the schools like?” is a question that enters into any discussion. If the answer is “a mess with administrative infighting over every little thing,” getting folks to come to anyplace to work and live is that much tougher.

When the town I grew up in had a bit of a fit about a proposed school tax increase last year, a tax increase that would have been resulted in a rate that is still among the lowest in the region. Cuts funds and something has to give. As usual it was stuff for the kids.  Nobody likes increases but stuff does cost monies. We all want to see those funds spent well. A quality school system is good for the town or city that it covers. Lord knows the abuses that have come to light and will come to light in the months ahead. I have friends teaching in the system and they have to cope with the effects of “No child Left behind,” twisted evaluative systems, kids that come from homes that might not have school as a priority.

So, I don’t know what exactly to make of the Buffalo elections last night, but the winners are correct in that there is a lot of work to do, a lot of words being spoken about how they got to do right for the kids.

Hope they mean it.

 

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