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, May 3, 2014

Buffalo Public Schools still searching for Deputy Superintendent amid a looming school board race

The Buffalo Public Schools updated its search for a deputy superintendent, the posting appearing on the website Education Week, TopSchoolJobs.

The position was filled in February, when Superintendent Pamela Brown appointed Dr. Mary Guinn after the Buffalo Board of Education ended its contract with the consulting firm Cross and Joftus last fall.  The firm had a contract for one year costing nearly half a million with Guinn making $290, 359, irking some members of the Buffalo Board of Education alleging it was more than what the superintendent of schools earned.

Previously, Guinn filled the position on a interim basis last March 2013, but at the time she didn't possess the certificate from the New York State Education Department in Albany that she obtained in February 2014, when Superintendent Brown appointed her again.

And the Buffalo News reported two years ago in the fall that the Say Yes to Education organization had contracted Cross and Joftus for $400,000 to develop a new organizational structure for the district, action plans for the superintendent's cabinet, a building based budgeting model to encourage "earned school autonomy" and a model to evaluate the work of the executive cabinet.

Hence it was Guinn's role to supervise the implementation of the new Central Office organization after she ended her temporary duties as the interim deputy superintendent.

Superintendent Brown has been criticized for hiring an executive staff viewed as top-heavy with Central Office administrators similar to her former predecessor James Williams.  In fact, she has done many similar things, yet Williams stayed on for six years, while Brown a female superintendent right or wrong; she has been held to a higher standard than her male counterparts, surviving attempts to oust her as soon as she was appointed.

Moreover, there is an election looming on May 6, three at-large school members will be elected from a slate of 14 candidates, there are two incumbents seeking office, attorney John Licata and Dr. Barbara Seals Nevergold.  Florence Johnson who served for over 20 years is not running for reelection this year.

And it's hard to predicate the outcome of the race that five years ago two whites and one African-American won seats.  If it happens again, two whites and one black, the quorum on a nine-member school board critics of Brown sought will be in place to end her contract.

Yet, something is different about this at-large school board race that happened five years ago and another that didn't happen.

For one thing, big time money is pouring into the race from the unions, wealthy groups and individuals and outside organizations such as StudentsFirstNY, all vying to influence school board policy that governs 57 schools 12 in good standing.

Also, there are racial overtones in the race and a sector in the black community composed of the old-guard individuals and organizations  like George K. Arthur, Frank B. Mesiah,  and the NAACP that view the elections as a threat to the presence of blacks on a school board where they first served for the first time in the early sixties and after the City charter changed to an elected school board in the mid-seventies.

And a good example was the reelection of Mayor Byron Brown though he lost his popularity in the two terms he has been in office among blacks before elected again, African-Americans  came out to keep the Mayor in office for another third term.

Interestingly, Puerto Ricans and other Latinos have become energized too, and for the first time two Latino candidates Ralph Hernandez formerly on the school board and Sergio Rodriguez former Mayoral candidate are both in the at-large school board race this year.

Whether the deputy superintendent position is finally filled depends on this election, as well as, the tenure of Superintendent Brown in the district.

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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