Mamie Till Mobley

"There was an important mission for me, to shape so many...young minds as a teacher. God took away one child but...(gave) me thousands. And I have been grateful for the blessing." Mamie Till Mobley

Saturday, January 24, 2015

The search for a new Superintendent of the Buffalo Schools: to seek or not to seek ?

The North Park School Board member local developer Carl Paladino expressed the search for a superintendent of the Buffalo Public Schools in the Buffalo simply as..."Any formal search is dead on arrival as far as I’m concerned,” he said. 
Yet, searching for a permanent superintendent has become an arduous endeavor for the Buffalo Board of Education. 
And  even more challenging now after  a new majority block surfaced on the School Board, viewing the selection process as simply appointing one from the ranks of the school principals in the district rather than a complicated one in a climate where finding a well qualified and experienced superintendent of schools has become in itself a job, one of the reasons for the existence of a. school board in the first place.
“Any formal search is dead on arrival as far as I’m concerned,” board member Carl Paladino said. “We’re going to do the same thing we did with Ogilvie. We know who we want to interview. We know what kind of person we want.”
Since former Dr. Pamela Brown had to step down last June, the School board hastily interviewed and appointed Donald A. Ogilvie who had just retired from BOCES. But he wasn't a consensus candidate four African -American female board members complained about the lack of transparency and didn't agree with the new majority bloc meeting with Ogilvie first and drawing up a contract voting him in as the interim superintendent of schools.

And  "Interims are hired primarily because a superintendent has left the district and the departure did not allow a sufficient amount of time for the board of education to conduct a thorough search and selection process. In fact, while national surveys offer many different reasons for the departure of outgoing superintendents other than retirement -- acceptance of another position, illness/death, discharge, illegal activity, political discord -- one can conclude it’s generally not a positive separation and it usually stresses the system."

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Robert Wilmers Children | All banking is local - Baltimore Sun

"There probably is no other person who has had a greater impact on the city of Buffalo than Robert G. Wilmers.
He's helped turn around a poorly performing urban elementary school, saved the philharmonic from bankruptcy, preserved a house built by Frank Lloyd Wright, worked to shave millions from the city's budget and pledged millions from his own pocket to improve the local zoo."
Robert Wilmers Children | All banking is local - Baltimore Sun

Monday, January 19, 2015

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. On the Purpose of Education

The Purpose Of Education

by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,
Morehouse College Student Paper, The Maroon Tiger, in 1947

As I engage in the so-called "bull sessions" around and about the school, I too often find that most college men have a misconception of the purpose of education. 

Most of the "brethren" think that education should equip them with the proper instruments of exploitation so that they can forever trample over the masses. Still others think that education should furnish them with noble ends rather than means to an end. 

It seems to me that education has a two-fold function to perform in the life of man and in society: the one is utility and the other is culture. Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the ligitimate goals of his life. 

Education must also train one for quick, resolute and effective thinking. To think incisively and to think for one's self is very difficult. We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half truths, prejudices, and propaganda. 

At this point, I often wonder whether or not education is fulfilling its purpose. 
A great majority of the so-called educated people do not think logically and scientifically. 

Even the press, the classroom, the platform, and the pulpit in many instances do not give us objective and unbiased truths. To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. 

Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction. 

The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals. 

The late Eugene Talmadge, in my opinion, possessed one of the better minds of Georgia, or even America. Moreover, he wore the Phi Beta Kappa key. By all measuring rods, Mr. Talmadge could think critically and intensively; yet he contends that I am an inferior being. Are those the types of men we call educated? 

We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character--that is the goal of true education. 
The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living. 

If we are not careful, our colleges will produce a group of close-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts. Be careful, "brethren!" Be careful, teachers!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

DPCC Fighting for a Seat on Buffalo Public School Board

DPCC Fighting for a Seat on Buffalo Public School Board

Although, it already may be a standing committee of the Buffalo Board of Education, and members unsuccessfully ran candidates  for the School Board, still the District Parent Coordinating Council wants a non/voting appointment to the School  Board.

The group had gained recognition under former Superintendent James Williams at times allotted more time to address the School Board, its power waned  under former  Superintendent Pamela Brown. And it has supported causes and groups some view as part of the overall movement to privatize the Buffalo Public Schools such as Buffalo ReformEd.

While, the group is viewed as aligned with the new majority bloc on the board, so for this reason, the idea of it having a non-voting member of the School Board the minority bloc on the Board may not support.

So, a standing committee focused on parents and their concerns appears to be how the DPCC may best be the way to represent parents.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Muskegon Heights charter schools fail to meet state standards - World Socialist Web Site

"Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System (MHPSA), America’s first all-charter public school district, has been found out of compliance on over a dozen issues relating to its special education program. The educational crisis of the entire district is a resounding condemnation of the emergency manager system."

Muskegon Heights charter schools fail to meet state standards - World Socialist Web Site

Monday, December 29, 2014

A rally protesting Gov. Cuomo's education policies inaugural address

"A Protest of Governor Andrew Cuomo's Education Policies" inaugural event is picking up momentum on the Facebook Social Media site since posted on Sunday afternoon.

The Buffalo News reported Saturday night that  the Governor planned to be in town on New Year's Day, Thursday at 4:15. PM,  to give an inaugural  address at the Buffalo History Museum located at the corner of Elmwood Avenue and Nottingham Terrace.

About 150 have indicated they will be attending the 3:30 PM event and over 1,000 invited and the invite list is growing as those invited also had invited  others.

From the Common Core to schools denied their court mandated Campaign for Fiscal Equity funds, his continuing of the Gap Elimination Adjustment, teacher evaluations tied to standardized testing, a privatization of education along with school closures in the Buffalo Public Schools are all concerns that have spurred on the rally against the education policies of the Governor. 

The Buffalo address is the second for Cuomo after he delivers one in NYC at
the World Trade Center on Mahattan on Thursday morning.

Gov. Cuomo has been running around lately to many events believed to garner publicity for himself as he explores a run for the White House in 2016.

Unless he does  an about-face on his education policies Govenor Cuomo will never realize his political aspirations to be the next president of the nation. 

Small Cities Lawsuit starts in January could affect other resources starved districts in New York State


October 29, 2014

After waiting six years, the parents and children in eight NY, high poverty, low wealth school districts will finally get their day in court. The plaintiffs in Maisto v. New York – known as the “Small Cities” case – are challenging New York’s persistent failure to provide sufficient teachers, curriculum, reasonable class sizes, interventions for at-risk students, and other resources deemed essential for a sound basic education under the NY Constitution. The eight Small Cities districts are Jamestown, Kingston, Mount Vernon, Newburgh, Niagara Falls, Port Jervis, Poughkeepsie and Utica.

Last month, the case was assigned to a new Judge, and a new trial date was selected.

Judge Kimberly A. O’Connor has set January 21, 2015, as the date for the start of trial in the New York State Supreme Court in Albany. William Reynolds of Albany-based Bond, Schoeneck and King is lead trial counsel. David Sciarra and Wendy Lecker of Education Law Center are serving as co-counsel, along with Gregory Little of the White and Case firm. Megan Mercy, associate counsel at NY State United Teachers (NYSUT), is also on the trial team.

The outcome of this trial will not only impact the 55,000 students in these eight high need districts, but could well affect similarly situated students in resource-starved districts across the state and in New York City.

Education Law Center prepared this primer with answers to frequently asked questions about the Small Cities case.

Reprint from ELC

Friday, December 26, 2014

Elizabeth R. Berlin, New Interim Commissioner of Education NYS

As Governor Andrew Cuomo moves forward to implement his "aggressive educational agenda," Elizabeth R. Berlin, executive deputy commissioner of state education department has been named  the new interim State Education Commissioner. Berlin worked last year in the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.
She'll share the responsibilities with deputy commissioner Ken Wagner,  spokesperson Dennis Tompkins said.
She is statutorily required to succeed Commissioner King. Tompkins didn't say why she had to work along side of Wagner, though her name doesn't appear on the NYS Certificate Holder website, and Wagner's  does appear certified in business administration, school district administration and psychology from 1999 to 2005.  

This is a video of  New York State Office of Temporary Disability & Assistance (OTDA) Executive Deputy Commissioner Elizabeth Berlin delivering remarks at the 12th Annual New York State Supportive Housing Conference June 2012, before appointed executive deputy commisioner under King in 2013.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Governor Cuomo, New Education Czar

Now that Commissioner John B. King, Jr has jumped ship as we learned on Wednesday, December 10, the opportunity for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to assume a greater role in educational policy making is more likely to happen. And a link is cited below on the appointments Cuomo made to his cabinet with the titles of deputy secretary of education, assistant secretary of education and an associate in education. With all the hedge fund donations lining his pockets, the Governor surely now can continue to collect more  money from what many have viewed as a conflict of interest for him and a political cash cow.

Governor Andrew Cuomo: New Education Czar?

By Douglas E. Gerhardt
"As widely reported in the press following the implausible statistic that 96 percent of teachers in New York state are effective or highly effective while at the same time, students in those schools are proficient in math and English to the tune of 34.8 percent and 31.4 percent, respectively, Governor Cuomo sent a December 18, 2014 letter to outgoing Commissioner King and Chancellor Tisch. In thatletter, the governor (actually through Director of State Operations Jim Malatras) posed 12 pointed (sometimes compounded) questions for the chancellor and commissioner to answer. These range from issues related to the clearly flawed APPR system of evaluating teachers to broader topics such as possible school consolidation, tenure laws and even selection of the Board of Regents. The final question encourages the chancellor and Board of Regents to design “an open and transparent selection process so parents, teachers, and legislators have a voice” in the selection process to replace Education Commissioner John King. Prior to the letter, Chancellor Tisch promised an honest selection process – nothing was said about openness or transparency. The chancellor did not mention what the alternative would be."

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Supervisor of Attendance still vacant

The posting for Supervisor of Attendance first advertised back on August 14, 2014 and posted two times through October and November wasn't filled in Buffalo Public Schools.
Meanwhile, the NYS Education Department labeled four "time out" schools. And unless plans are designed to turn them around, they face closure.
So, it is  important for the district to fill the position of Supervisor of Attendance to ensure students are attending school daily and benefiting from a free public school education, especially during a period of school closures.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Commissioner King new post

Commissioner John B. King, Jr. resignation appears planned earlier with the impending departure at the end of the year of Deputy Secretary of Education James Shelton, formerly a program officer at the Gates Foundation  Arne Ducan appointed to an innovation post and later his deputy secretary of education.  Shelton's departure was the topic of an  Education Week article in October.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Commissioner John King stepping down

New York State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr.  is finally stepping down to the approval of many critics unhappy with his performance as the top educational leader in Albany.

Besides criticized for  his lack of experience for the job, appointed in 2011, there were many complaints about his overall leadership and statewide public relations fiascos  from standardized testing to teacher evaluations.

As the youngest state education commissioner,  his leadership has come under attack for his  implementation of the APPR  teacher  evaluation system followed by the Common Core Curriculum.

And his interference in the Buffalo Public School System, including his public criticism of former Superintendent Dr, Pamela Brown had caused him problems with the former African American female majority bloc on the Buffalo Board of Education, especially former at large  school board member Florence Johnson.

Interestingly , Interim Superintendent of the Buffalo Schools, Donald A. Ogilvie was pursued by the new  majority bloc on the Buffalo School Board because of his association with Commissioner King. 

And  is the Interim Superintendent Ogilvie still stepping down after one year? And the distinguish educator Judy Elliot, what happens to her post? 

Also, what will happen to the BOCES CTE programs students in two Buffalo schools are enrolled?

And now that he has quit as the commissioner, what will happen to the Buffalo Schools turnaround plans for the four schools and the threat of closures? 

“It is the best early Christmas present I could have hoped for. Hopefully the Board of Regents will take their time and find a commissioner who is able to engage the field and help bring education in New York forward," said Carol Burris, who was named New York’s 2013 High School Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York and the National Association of Secondary School Principals in a Valerie Strauss article on the Answer Sheet Washington Post.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Bennett High School public meeting for a new school and charters begin requests to locate at Buffalo Public Schools

The public meeting of Bennett High School Alumni's proposal for a new high school  will be held on Tuesday, December 2, 2014, at 7pm in the auditorium.

The proposal features various pathways to graduation from a Regents Honors  to career technical education programs. The building trades are the focus of the  CTE programs.

It is important for the community to attend the meeting to learn about the new proposal for Bennett High School since the State Education Department labeled it an "out of time" school facing closure, if it doesn't propose an acceptable education plan to the district by mid December.

And Interim Superintendent Donald A. Ogilvie has appointed a committee  12 to review  and evaluate the turnaround plans for Bennett, East, Lafayette High Schools and MLK  this month.

Also, the school board majority bloc voted Tuesday at  special board meeting to accept requests from local "high" performing charter schools to either co-exist in a district building with another  charter, or with another school in a district building or take over the building.

Interestingly,  a Calvados comment in the BN story on Nov. 26,  cited an August 19, 2014, State Ed  Press Release with a list  Reward Schools.

"NYSED designates high performing public schools as "Reward Schools. "Reward Schools are either schools that have high achievement or schools that have made the most progress in the state and do not have significant gaps in student achievement between subgroups. For 2014-15, the state identified 354 NY public schools for their list. There are 248 charter schools currently approved to operate in New York State as of October 2014. Only seven of these charter schools appear on
NYSED's list of Reward Schools and none are located in WNY."

Tapestry Charter School visited Bennett last summer and has indicated an interest in the Bennett High School building, while Health Sciences Charter School founded in Tonawanda in 2009, until it renovated the old ECC building and moved to this location on Ellicott Street in 2011, has submitted a request to State Education officials in Albany to open an elementary school at the Dr. Martin Luther King building on High Street in order to offer K through 12.

Back in October, the Buffalo Board of Education principally the Majority Bloc voted for a resolution favored by board member Larry Quinn that would allow any Buffalo Public School to become a charter school. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Michael Brown's High School Is An Example Of The Major Inequalities In Education

Rebecca Klein
Huffington Post
Before Michael Brown became a symbol of racially charged unrest, he was a recent high school graduate days away from starting college.
That high school diploma was hard-earned, his mourning mother has said. "Do you know how hard it was for me to get him to stay in school and graduate?" she told news station KMOV. "You know how many black men graduate? Not many."

Whitney Tilson (3rd background)

Whitney Tilson (3rd background)
"Let’s be honest: we need a lot more well-off, well-educated white folks with a personal stake in both charter schools and education reform in general if we’re going to take reform to the next level, both politically and operationally.Whitney Tilson, hedge fund manager and major funding angel for the school privatizing Democrats for Education Reform, thinks there’s not enough rich, educated white folks.( Preaprez) click photo to his blog.

Arne Duncan

Arne Duncan
U.S. Secretary of Education, click photo