Letter to the Editor: Low-Income Students Told to Take a “2nd Seat”
By Education Advocate DUNCAN KIRKWOOD

Tribune Bias / Bigotry, Education, Governance, History, Law, New York State, People, Political Analysis, Politics 5 Comments

Dr. Frances Wills and the NY State Board of Regents’ Recent Decision Will Harm Hundreds of Black Children

BUFFALO, NY — May 16, 2020 — In a recent meeting the New York State Board of Regents (NYSBoR) voted to deny the renewal of Buffalo Academy of Science Charter School (Buff Sci) even though it was recommended to them by the state to approve the renewal. Buff Sci serves a population of 65% Black children, over 80% minority children and 90% low-income children, and is still the highest performing charter school in all of Western and Central NY. The school boasts a graduation rate of 95% in a district whose graduation rate is 65%.

Denying the Buff Sci renewal will displace hundreds of low-income students to lower-performing schools. Buffalo’s school district has been steadily improving under the leadership of Dr. Kriner Cash and the School Board, but it has a long way to go to come anywhere near the student achievement of Buff Sci.

During the deliberations 6th Judicial District BOR member Susan Mittler said that “In another year, without a pandemic or whatever, you can convince me but right now I really believe the Buffalo Public Schools need our support as a primary issue and that the charter schools need to take a second seat.” A second seat? That is what a BOR member is saying to the hundreds of minority families that have their children in Buff Sci? That is hurtful to the families and to our community.

Listen, I get it. Some people do not like charter schools. They believe that low-income families should not have high-quality educational options or they are carrying the Teacher Union’s water, or whatever their personal dislike of charter schools stems from. But to essentially vote to close the highest performing charter school in the entire region is terrible. If a charter school is not performing well or if there is mismanagement of funds or some serious offense, then yes, of course, it should be closed. But an incredibly high performing school that serves nearly 90% low-income families is something we should be trying to support and model.

These low-income students deserve a great education; it is the only way to break generational poverty. We as a community are asking the members of the Board of Regents to reconsider your vote.

TribuneLetter to the Editor: Low-Income Students Told to Take a “2nd Seat”
By Education Advocate DUNCAN KIRKWOOD

Comments 5

  1. Education is about one’s attitude towards learning. It has nothing to do with money, color, gender, those excuses are those who perpetuate these myths that the media rabbit out constantly. Learning starts with your parents and then school is just an extension of that. If you don’t get that foundation at home it’s highly unlikely you will succeed.

    In Yonkers at over $27,000 per student, it is not about the money, and if it is a breakdown of how that $27,000 goes on each kid. We have also learned from this pandemic that schools are baby sitting centers and feeding stations. This is from the NYC experience where the Mayor did not shut the schools down and in turn infected many more with the virus. He was pandering to his base and not thinking of the welfare of ALL the school kids. Then we were shown the amount of food that was thrown out. All of these fiscal numbers need to be exposed.

  2. If this decision stands, it becomes locally relevant because the same thing will occur for local charters. The numbers and benchmarks set by State Ed should determine eligibility to operate, not the emotions of a few board members. These claims that charters “handpick” students are simply false. Publicly funded charter schools use a lottery system. If you know how to handpick winning lottery tickets, please fill me in with the details. In fact, many charters are already using weighted-lottery practices that give preference to English language learners and students with disabilities because the randomness of the aforementioned lottery process does not always result in comparable percentages for those subgroups. Conversely, most low-performing, public school districts in urban areas have their own “criterion-based schools” which economically disadvantaged students, English language learners, and special education students are not adequately represented. To shed some light on the topic of students being whimsically kicked out of charter schools, there are formal procedures for school expulsion, one step which requires an impartial hearing officer to moderate a formal hearing. If you analyze the drop-out and long term suspension data for public schools and compare them to the disciplinary practices of charter schools you will find that many of the rumors about charters are simply inaccurate, logical fallacies that deflect the shortcomings of continually failing urban public schools. Charter schools operate legally and provide a choice to parents in areas where their public options have failed them. Truthfully, in a time of budget crisis and uncertainty, we should learn from these schools that continually do more, with less. I’m sure most taxpayers could really get behind a model that sees greater results with a smaller price tag- charter schools receive a fraction of the funding of public schools. If charter schools are to be dismantled, that order should come from legislators, not a few out-of-touch Regents, and they should start with the poorer performing ones first. The Governor urged leaders to make decisions on data, not fear. Unfortunately, I fear the latter has prevailed in this case! This looks like some good old-fashioned, pro-union, fear-mongering that once again appears to have circumvented actual legislation. In New York, we should be open to new ideas, revenue, and any other modifications that can help to propel us over the crater that COVID19 has made. Unfortunately, we seem to be content with the status quo, using our energy chasing out hundreds of millions in philanthropy and finding creative ways to distance ourselves from federal education incentive funding. To put it plainly, it is very easy for people not living in generational poverty that have access to suitable educational choices to take on a political position against a population that relies on it, lives it, and has no other options. #factsnotfear

  3. Okay the jig is up. We know The scam that some charter schools are up to. For others not on the know many charter schools cherry pick the highest scoring achieving students from public schools. If one of The cherry picked students doesn’t perform to standards they are kicked out of the charter school, so as to not bring down Graduation rates down. Yes, so there you have it Cherry picked students from the public schools, best of what’s left, then if any look like they are in danger of graduating they are kicked out, sent back to public school. So there ya have it, fake graduation rates and a big scam going on regarding many charter schools. It’s all about the Benjamin’s. In the mean time charter school principals smile and pretend they are the second coming of Christ. It’s all bulls hit folks.

    1. You are correct. The practice is known as “creaming” in the educational community. Charter schools rarely serve special Ed, disabled or academically struggling students, these underserved students are left in underfunded public schools. Editorial question: Why is the YT top story about a Buffalo charter school?

      1. It speaks to the numbers in Yonkers, as well. YPS at 35% proficiency and CSEE charter school 92% in math, 97% in English. I will get into the numbers and what the takeaways are, as well as whether only a specific student is permitted entry or everyone? Ask yourself this at the moment. Of the 27,000 student population in Yonkers Public Schools, how may are specia needs children on a percentage basis. That should reveal the basis for the beginning of an analysis. —- Kindly, Hezi

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