When it comes to school board elections, what is it that you want to see in a candidate? Really. Think about it. What sort of qualifications does it take to be on the board, and are we electing board members for the right reasons, or are we electing them at all? When so few people vote during these elections, it is apparent that many people could care less about taking the trip to their polling places, especially since the elections take place apart from the governmental elections (and why is that?).
To remind people to get out there and vote during the upcoming May 4th school board election, I decided to ask three North District candidates to submit their platforms. Since that time Matt Ricchiazzi was challenged and is no longer on the ballot. After talking with Matt, he asked if we would please add his platform statement, as he is looking for enough write-in votes to win. As for the two candidates who will be listed on the ballot, they are Lawrence Scott and Jay McCarthy.
Platform summation from Lawrence Scott:
With my experience in public education as a school psychologist, I believe that I can best represent parents, teachers, and most of all our students. Everyday in my work, I advocate for students and make them my number one interest when making decisions. If elected to the School Board I intend to do the same. Not only do I have a vested interest in this school system professionally, but personally as well. My wife and I are expecting our first child this summer and intend on one day sending him to the Buffalo Public Schools.
Our undeniable truancy issues and high drop out rates need to change. We need a comprehensive district-wide attendance policy with clear expectations and accountability and personnel assigned directly to this task to collaborate with the schools, parents, and appropriate community resources, such as law enforcement. I believe that sound alternative programs can effectively address truancy and drop out rates in middle school and high school. Our at-risk students need programs that provide a more personalized setting with smaller staff/student ratios, consistent counseling, and a hands on/vocational component. We need to prepare students, not only for college, but for careers. As a family counselor, I understand the importance of parent involvement in their child’s education. As a school community, we need to compel all parents to be accountable for their child’s social development and school success.
I strongly support small class sizes, afterschool programming, expansion of ESL services, and early intervention for students in need. We need to continue the gains that have been made in the areas of ELA and math as a result of reading and math coaches and an extended day/school year. School safety needs to be a number one priority. All students have a right to come to school and be safe both physically and emotionally. While campaigning, I’ve had the opportunity to hear the concerns of many parents, educators, and other city residents who are passionately concerned about our children and their education. If elected, I intend to create a network of advocates for education, who will inform me of relevant concerns in our schools and guide me in making decisions on critical issues affecting our children.
Platform summation for Jay McCarthy:
I’m Jay McCarthy and I’m running for School Board because I believe in Buffalo and Buffalo’s future. I know that the key to that future is our school system.
I believe strong schools make strong neighborhoods. My candidacy is about bringing a fair, common sense approach to the School Board. To me, that means four key points:
• More accountability for better results (for teachers, children and parents)
• Reducing busing and reviving neighborhood schools
• Smaller class sizes
• Improved school safety
My wife Betsy and I are raising our daughter Elise in North Buffalo, in the same neighborhood where I grew up. Too many of our friends have moved out of Buffalo because they were worried about the schools, but we don’t want to leave. Buffalo is our home and I want to fight for better schools for my daughter . . . and your children, too.
In 2006, I founded Buffalo MicroParks and created the Barkyard Dog Park in LaSalle Park. In spite of the best efforts, the idea of a dog park had languished, blocked by bureaucracy and inertia. By offering some new ideas and creative compromises, I was able to lead a coalition that in August 2007 opened Buffalo’s first off-leash area for dogs. That’s the ability, passion, and leadership I will bring to the School Board.
I’m running for school board because I believe in Buffalo’s future, and that future is in our schools. I don’t pretend to have all the answers but I do believe that by working together we can explore new ideas and find innovative solutions to some of the problems facing our schools. I’m the only candidate who has a real record of accomplishing change. Please join me in my campaign. Thank you.
Platform summation for Matt Ricchiazzi:
Don’t send another incrementalist to the school board. Incrementalism isn’t good enough now. We’re in crisis mode, and times like these demand a top-to-bottom rethinking and restructuring of our public education system.
I’m asking for more than your vote. I’m asking you to be aspirational. I’m asking you to join me in setting ambitious goals that will be challenging to achieve. I’m asking you to believe that no law, contract, or regulation is so permanent that it cannot be changed; I’m asking you to believe that reasonable people can forge meaningful compromise.
At the root of my candidacy is an unwavering understanding that complacency is not a conscionable option. History demands of us extraordinary reform in an increasingly global and competitive world. The jobs and industries of the future will emerge where the most skilled and productive workers are–nothing short of our relevance in the global marketplace is at stake.
Buffalo Public isn’t competing with Clarence or Orchard Park–we’re competing with Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. We have an opportunity to make Buffalo Public a world renowned brand in education, and to reshape what public education can look like in America.
But it’s going to take much–much–more than another incrementalist. And no law, regulation, contract, or special interest should be able to stand in the way. If you’re ready to refuse the stale air of orthodoxy, please consider “WRITING IN RICCHIAZZI” on May 4th.