Last month Buffalo News education blogger, Mary Pasciak blogged about "Buffalo's growing racial gap: How big is it at your high school?" based on the data the state released on the class of 2011. "The racial gap for graduation rates in Buffalo has gotten slightly worse over the past few years," she wrote. The African-Americans graduation rates for the class of 2011 in 4 years was 52%, 64% for whites, Hispanics, 44% and Asians, 51%.
While the gap between blacks and whites increased only two points from 10 to 12, for Puerto Rican/Latino students it stayed the same at 20 points. Although Puerto Rican/Latino students had a higher graduation rate at three schools--Hutch Tech, international Prep, Performing Arts and Riverside, their enrollment and graduation rates district-wide was far worse than blacks and whites.
That Puerto Rican/Latinos have 44% graduation rate for the class of 2011 is shameful, but there are other stats as well such as the report "Raising the Academic Achievement of English Language Learners in the Buffalo Public Schools," the Council of Great City Schools wrote in the winter 2009/2010 that revealed less that one quarter of its English Language Learners or 21% graduate from Buffalo high schools. And since Puerto Ricans composed the highest population of these students in the district 49.4% from 2008-2009 data, it shows their graduation rates are even lower overall than 44% when this language factor is considered.
The other discrepancy is the enrollment of Puerto Rican/Latino Students at the higher performing schools such as City Honors only 7 in the class of 2011, so small the graduation rate wasn't calculated in the data. Overall, they are underrepresented in the high performing schools and over represented in the lower performing high schools. Why? Why only 7 Latinos at City Honors with an enrollment of 125 in the class of 2011? Similarly, why only 18 at Leonardo da Vinci from a class of 100 students, 38 blacks and 50 whites?
Even Hutch Tech, a high performing vocational/technical high school enrolled only 29 Puerto Ricans/Latinos while black and white enrollment was 140 and 101 respectively. Yet, the 29 Latino students had a higher graduation rate at 86% compared to 83% black and 80% white, still way above the district average.
The stats at the charter schools the more shameful for Puerto Ricans/Latinos for the class of 2011, only a total of 22 enrolled in Buffalo Academy Science Charter, Oracle, Tapestry and WNY Maritime Charter Schools.
The founders of Tapestry submitted proposals to State Ed requesting to turn two Buffalo schools into charter, East and Waterfront in a Buffalo News report June 30, 2011 that irked the Buffalo board members.
Steven Polowitz, one of these founders said, the Buffalo schools "...don't have capacity to provide decent educational alternatives to ("...kids attending failing schools..."), but what are they providing to Puerto Rican/Latinos and ELL students when they don't even enrolled them and there is a large population of them at Waterfront one of the schools they proposed to take the reins turn into a charter school. What experience do they have with this population when they don't even enroll them in the charter school they operate? Yet, they want to be the ones initiating change?
New Super elect Dr. Brown with extensive training and work experiences with second language students especially Spanish-speaking ones has the background to not only address this issue but implement some of the recommendations of the Council of Great City Schools report still dormant since it appeared in 2010.