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Buffalo Schools Send Message to Albany

More than two hundred students, teachers and parents from Western New York’s 16 charter schools will be boarding buses bound for Albany this morning, to speak before elected representatives in Albany regarding funding.  They will join thousands of charter school supporters from all corners of New York State who will be traveling to the Capitol to meet with state leaders to discuss the budget crises and its effect on charter schools. 
Charter schools in Buffalo enroll 20 percent of Buffalo Public School students.  
Superintendent of Buffalo Public Schools Dr. James A. Williams, currently in Washington D.C. at an education conference, will be sending a statement to Albany that calls for an even playing field between public schools and local charter schools when it comes to funding and student abilities.  The Buffalo Public Schools are facing a $71 million reduction in funding this year, while the charter schools stand to gain the $16 million they expected.
“The way the economy sits right now, we can’t afford a dual system of education,” says Dr. Williams.  As he explains it, it would be one thing if a charter school were to take over an entire school’s population and that school were subsequently closed, but by depleting the top student population, school by school, public schools are left with a deficit of strong academic learners and the money that follows them.  
Add to that the fact that a charter school can return a non-performing student within the first year, and Williams says there comes a question of separation and segregation.  He would expect charters to have a cross-section of students that has the same percentages of disabled, bilingual and special education students that the public schools have – and to keep each student they accept for an entire year.
“To reduce aid to public schools, while charter school funding stays intact would be both inequitable and unethical,” Williams says.  “That takes us back 50 years, before anti-segregation wars were won in Greenfield, NC.”
Within that student population that charters can’t or won’t take, Williams points to other problems.  “The law states that if a student comes in speaking no English, they are to be given a math test on day one, and an English test after one year,” he says.  “Some of these students have never been in school before, and there is no research to support why they have low test scores.”  It becomes a problem for the District, such as with the recent placement of the International School on a watch list.
Beyond Albany, Dr. Williams is eager to hear what higher levels of government are willing to do for American students and their schools.  “What is the plan for public education?” he asks.  “I have yet to hear it.”

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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