There’s going to be a meeting tonight to unveil updated plans for the design and stabilization of the H. H. Richardson Complex, and we know RaChaCha will be there, taking it all in and reporting back to us.
In the meanwhile, I spoke to someone else who had another idea about what to do with the former insane asylum, and depending on how you feel about it, it’s maybe…er…uh…not so crazy.
Carl Paladino was talking about the “broken public education system,” and saying how he’s an advocate of residency charter schools. The way Carl sees it – education specialists would identify bright, teachable children who are living in poor learning environments, and remove them from the environment until they learn how to be good students.
At first, it sounded like the stuff of gothic novels, but then I started to understand what Carl was saying. Poverty and poor education go hand in hand, and if a 1st-grader is living in an impoverished environment in which the adult(s) in the household haven’t exactly bought into education, where do you suppose they’re headed in 10 years?
“It costs $75,000 to house a prisoner in state prison!” Carl said. “It costs $27,000 a year to keep a child in this dysfunctional school system. You could house 1,000 kids at the Richardson for $15,000 per year. It could be a model to expand residency charters.”
Carl contends that the Richardson is exactly right for the job, based on the design for its original use. “You’ve got these huge, open hallways that are lined with smaller rooms. It would be perfect,” he said.
“We’re Buffalo, and we can do it if we want to. We have to want the best. If there’s a law that’s in the way, change it!” Carl stated. “Look, the superintendent [James Williams] is burdened with incompetent people. He has non-merit-based, tenured teachers because of the union and [Buffalo Teacher’s Federation President] Phil Rumore. Then he has these energetic, caring young teachers who live in the city and want to make a difference…and…they’re the first to be laid off! It’s a broken system,” Carl lamented.
“Let’s create students who love to learn, and close schools that don’t meet standards,” Carl suggested. “Let’s not hand out tenure for time, but for merit!”
Doubtful they’ll announce that the Richardson Complex is going to be used for a residency charter school, but the idea does have some appeal. “Only 46 percent of students graduate,” Carl said, “and only 30 percent are really prepared for life.”
Image: Infrared photo by Bob Schultz