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

Monday, June 27, 2011

Williams stays time now to negotiate contract with teachers, reinstate attendance officers

It was a comedy of errors Monday afternoon at the Buffalo Board of Education special meeting to vote on whether to terminate the contract of embattled Superintendent James A. Williams. The public thought the issue had been decided about three weeks ago when Williams opted to retire next year in June 2012.  Many are wondering in the community why this  special meeting happened in the first place. If anything positive resulted from the fiasco was Superintendent Williams saying the matter could have been handled differently through negotiations with their respective attorneys. Williams said,
"There was a better way to do this, I will say. I think in any organization, if two parties want to have a discussion about a separation, you bring their attorneys in the room, you negotiate and you move forward."
Perhaps, Williams will  now "move forward" to negotiate a contract with the Buffalo teachers. Buffalo teachers have been without a contract since it expired on July 2004. District officials not only litigated the single health carrier insurance after it unilaterally imposed it on the teachers in 2005, realizing millions of dollars in savings during the four year dispute, but later litigated the contractual steps teachers owed after the wage freeze lifted in 2007.  District officials even litigated the reinstatement of the wrongfully laid-off teachers in 2005 that included 15 attendance officers about eight with (tenure) permanent appointments designated "contract" union employees with the Buffalo Teachers Federation. And,  the the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court ruled the teachers did not have to be  reinstated ironically because they were not "contractually entitled to job security."The Court of Appeals sustained the decision of the Appellate Court. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Teachers Federation continues to negotiate reinstatement of the attendance officers while attendance rates decline district-wide especially at the junior high school and secondary levels.
Yet, Superintendent Williams earlier this month called the work of the attendance officers "like a band aid on cancer" and did not support reinstating them even after the Buffalo Board of Education allocated funds to bring them back at the May 25th board meeting in an interview with the African-American newspaper, the Challenger Community News.
A plethora of  reports issued recently corroborated the serious issue of declining attendance rates in the district. The consultant the Board  hired Hedy Chang released her report in May, her data showed nearly 45% elementary school, 52% middle school and 70%  high school special education students are chronically or severely absent in the Buffalo Public Schools and BTF report cited nearly 45% of students in K-6 were absent more than 21 days.
If Williams continues to blame the parents for not sending their children to school as he alleged at the meeting the District Parent Coordinating Council held with stakeholders at the Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts May 3rd,  and resist reinstating the attendance officers while attendance plummets in the district,  the board may have to revisit whether allowing him  to retire (If he retires, he gets health insurance for life, paid at 70 percent if he retires next year) in order to enhance his benefit package is more important than the school attendance of Buffalo students.

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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