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

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Superintendent James Williams' contract extended until 2014

After five tumultuous, years leading the Buffalo City School District, the Buffalo Board of Education voted 7-2, to extend the contract of the embattled superintendent James A. Williams until 2014.

School Board President, Ralph Hernandez, West District praised and lauded his leadership as "there has been serious progress" while, School Board members at large, John Licata and North District, Catherine Nugent-Panepinto didn't vote on the extension."

Buffalo Teachers Federation (BTF) President Phil Rumore acquiesced to support the extension his old rival at-large School Board member Christopher Jacobs thanked the union head for his endorsement calling it, "a new day."

Yet, Buffalo teachers still don't have a contract. The old contract expired on July 2004. Nevertheless, there is on-going litigation on issues involving Buffalo teachers steps, the district moved them up one step instead of their contractual four after the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority (BFSA) lifted the wage freeze in July 2007.

The BFSA imposed the wage freeze on City employees on April 2004. Still there are unresolved legal issues with the single health carrier reported in the Provocator the BTF publication.

Another concern are the laid off Attendance teachers and others on July 2005 viewed as a vindictive move on the part of the School Board and the Superintendent when they imposed the single health carrier during contract negotiations.

Many of the Attendance teachers had contract status ( tenure--a permanent appointment) with the district before they were laid-off. Thus, the district usurped their salaries and position without just cause. And the ruling of the arbitrator failed to mention they had contract status.

Thus, the Appellate Court ruled back in October 2008 the teachers were not "contractually entitled to job security" when indeed they had it through their tenure--permanent appointment as contract teachers in the district, a point neither the Buffalo School Board, the superintendent or the BTF have addressed. Yet, the teachers have brought it up at Board meetings and to the BTF in letters and meeting.

And still questions linger about the handling of the alleged child molestation incident in November 2007, involving an autistic child and a teacher's aide at one Buffalo school that spur a training program on reporting child abuse on March 2010, as well as, the fiasco at McKinley High School, a suspended student and a basketball coach in 2007 that made daily headline news.

ResulTech came under State Education Department scrutiny shy two weeks prior approval on July 8, 2008 of the BFSA contract extension. ResulTech operated school opened in September 2006 by 2008 SED issued a report of failure, blaming it on the Maryland firm before it closed down $7.1 million had been used to fund it. Questions still unanswered here as well about the district role in the financing of a no-bid contract for consulting services by ResulTech.

While high school graduation rates have gone up at 55% in the district among limited English-speaking students its 21%. And, the drop-out and attendance rates still a major concern ever since the district laid-off the Attendance teachers the rates have dropped steadily from 2005-2006 school year to the present.

Although the district and the city introduced more school resources officers still truancy is the work of Attendance officers not the Buffalo police while the district employs only three Attendance teachers to monitor the attendance of 35,000 students.

And, hispanic leaders twice voiced their concerns at two School Board meetings about the recent 158 pages report "Raising the Achievement of English Language Learners in the Buffalo Public Schools, Winter 2009-2010, the Great City Schools Council completed citing the neglect of the vast majority of English Language Learners in the district the highest number Spanish-speaking invisible and forgotten benefiting less from educational opportunities offered other students their services inequitable.

While a download of data "done for the Council team indicated nearly 100 English language learners in the district had not received bilingual or ESL services during most of 2008-09 school year."

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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