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Buffalo Parents Travel to Albany to support Parent Trigger Bill

By ReformED’s Becca Bass:

With unbelievable enthusiasm given the early hour,  a group of 40 Buffalo parents and community members gathered at 4:30 am Wednesday morning to make their way to Albany, where they were determined to voice their loud support for the Parent Trigger Bill. The trip was facilitated by Buffalo ReformED, a champion for the Parent Trigger Bill in Buffalo.

In short, the Parent Trigger Bill allows parents from a Persistently Lowest Achieving school (PLA) to petition to turn the school around according to one of  three federal turnaround models: charter conversion, the restart model, or the transformation model.  At PLA schools, the District is already mandated to employ one of these turnaround structures; the Parent Trigger Bill allows a majority of parents (55%) at a school to petition for the model of change they want based on the needs of their particular school. By giving legal authority to the parents’ voice in this decision, the system is held more directly accountable and responsive to the needs of those they serve. The real strength of this bill is its power as a bargaining chip. If parents organize and decide on changes they want to see made at the building level, such as a longer school day, a focus on literacy, or more time on task, they can use their petition as leverage with the school board, forcing the board to negotiate with the union to make building-level changes or accept the parents’ chosen turnaround model.

The logic behind the Parent Trigger is simple: Public education should be about what is in the best interest of students. Unfortunately, though everyone in the school system wants kids to succeed, there are competing adult interests that often interfere with what is best for students. This has created a system in crisis. Parents are the only stakeholders that have no competing interests when it comes to what is best for their child. Therefore, parents should be given legal power at the bargaining table in order to advocate on behalf of the best interests of their children.

Stokes-Buffalo-NY.jpgThe status quo is not an option. Statistically, the Buffalo Public School System (BPS) is one of the worst performing school districts in the state. Only 25% of all black males in the BPS graduate, less than 50% of all students graduate, and of those graduates, only 15% are college ready. Students in the Buffalo system are more likely to drop out or go to jail than they are to go to college.  Out of 59 schools, 13 are classified as PLA, and 13 are likely to join the list soon. By any measure, our school system is failing our students and our city.

Given the devastating condition of our school system, parents are encouraged by the legislative support for the bill, which is officially sponsored by Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes and Senator Grisanti. In WNY, Assemblyman Hoyt is a vocal champion of the bill, and Assemblyman Schroeder committed his support as well. In Albany, parents received a pledge of support from Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, the Assembly Education Chair; Karim Camara, the Chair of the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus; and Annette Robinson, a member of the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus. The Buffalo Common Council also adopted a resolution on Wednesday in support of the Parent Trigger legislation. Supporters are hopeful that the Parent Trigger Bill could be passed as early as this Friday or Monday before the legislative session closes.

However, whether or not the bill passes this week, momentum is undeniably growing. Parents and community members will continue working to build support for the bill in order to pass it in early January 2012. Parents have had enough, and they demand that their voices be heard.

Photos: Senator Grisanti, and Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes (sponsors of the Bill in Senate/House respectively)

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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  • getzvillain

    That these well meaning, hard working people could really effect some of the intended change! It’s great that there was another adult at home to care for theirs kids while they’re gone.
    With those statistics above I have to wonder what percentage of the biological parents (each with one mother and father)actually are living under the same roof as their children so as to have made them supper, read them a bedtime story, supervised their homework and when they went to bed, or got them into a clean shirt to go off to school? Or what percentage practiced with an early grade student last night to see that they can find a page in a book or a magazine page number quickly? (Believe me, the news here is not good.)
    Requiring teachers to stay another hour or two after school (or live in the city for that matter despite where their own extended and perhaps dependent relatives live) will not provide these simple necessities above which are among the more predominant reasons for the article’s statistics.
    Maybe it is time for Carl Paladino’s boarding schools.
    Please stop beating up teachers over the those statistics and let’s reform parents while we’re at it. Rod Watson in his News column thought he’d beat up the teachers for their skin color and for what they did Monday night after school. Knowing Eva Doyle who presented the guest speaker as I do I regret not being there at her guest speaker’s address, but Buffalo teachers, too, have things, including their own family matters, that they must attend to when they are ‘off the clock’. If what he said was so good, maybe we can have him back while we are ‘on the clock’ to hear (when we’re not attending to our own family matters)what he has to say.

  • BuffaloRez

    While I suppose that it should means something that a few people would board a bus and go all the way to Albany to ensure the passage of the parent trigger bill,I find it hard to believe that this bill will be effective.
    If you asked any of the teachers at the low performing schools what they believe is the cause of the problem, I’m sure it will be the lack of parent involvement in their child’s education. I know several teachers in urban settings who say their biggest complaint is that they can’t get in touch with parents, get hung up on as soon as they know that it’s their child’s teacher or try and turn the blame on the teacher when they are notified that their child is failing. There are so many good teachers doing their part, but without the the parent doing their part, the teachers hands are tired. Many of these parents send their children to school with expensive clothes, cell phones and electronic devices but not a pencil, pen or notebook.
    The school systems needs to implement an attendance policy and stick to it. Teachers show up and teach but can’t possible be effective if the desks aren’t occupied by students. When a child shows up twice a week or sometimes twice in a month, what do you think the results will be. Schools like City Honors, Olmsted and Hutch Tech do well because the students at those schools show up and do the work. Education is important to them because it’s important to their parents.
    As for Eva Doyle belief that teachers have to learn how to educate black males, I wholeheartedly disagree. The rest of the world does not conformed to black men, so why should teachers. She really should focus more on her own family, seeing that her own granddaughter is a 16 year old eighth grader. Which leads me back to my point, education begins at home.

  • KeepItSimple

    >If you asked any of the teachers at the low performing schools what they believe is the cause of the problem, I’m sure it will be the lack of parent involvement in their child’s education.
    >stop beating up teachers over the those statistics and let’s reform parents
    If that was true, we wouldn’t need schools. “We have bad raw material in Buffalo to work with” is an excuse. It doesn’t fly. Compare us to *other* schools “in urban settings”. . .our parents are no worse, but their education system performs better.

  • warrenavenue

    KIS – Why do Williamsville and Clarence succeed year after year? Are the kids smarter when they’re born at Millard Fillmore Suburban?
    Have you ever stepped into a BPS? Most likely not like so many educational reformers. It’s tough to teach children that come with little to no background knowledge, parents who simply are not good at parenting and all the other issues that surround poverty. You could volunteer in the BPS if you think it’s really the teachers and possibly get a first hand view of the system that you criticize
    Here are your other schools even though I hate Fox News…,2933,344190,00.html

  • skybox

    KIS – Why do Williamsville and Clarence succeed year after year? Are the kids smarter when they’re born at Millard Fillmore Suburban?
    Parents in Williamsville and Clarence are more successful than parents in Buffalo so their children will be more successful. Homes in the suburbs often have a male role model living in the home or spending at least a few days a week with the kids. This is a major indicator of the success or failure of a child in their developing years. I know this will ruffle some feathers with the feminazis but it is father’s day after all. Children need their fathers to be part of their lives, not just their mothers and grandmothers. This is especially true for boys who are lost in this generation and are failing out of school at a rate that triples those of girls. This is especially true in the city where the most prominent male role models are professional athletes and criminals.