Charter School Parents now included in DPCC

 

 

by Duncan Kirkwood

There’s a lot to be optimistic about in Buffalo. The city is on the cusp of a cultural renaissance, businesses and the state are investing here, and more and more people are choosing to live here – many returning after years away.

But that doesn’t mean all our problems have disappeared. We still have an educational system that fails thousands of students every year, most of them students of color. If we want to fix this problem, it’s absolutely critical we work together.

That means setting aside biases, politics, and agendas.

I am heartened to see that starting to happen.

Recently, the Buffalo District Parent Coordinating Council (DPCC) voted for the first time in their 17-year history to include charter school parents in their organization. The vote was unanimous. Parents from Enterprise Charter School and Westminster Community Charter School – charters authorized by the Buffalo Board of Education – will now have a seat at the table.

As a father of children in the Buffalo school system as well as an advocate for educational justice, I too now have a seat at the table as an Executive Committee member, where I can represent all of Buffalo’s charter schools’ parents.

One-fifth of our public school students attend charters. Giving charter parents a voice like this is huge recognition of the critical role charter schools play in improving the city’s schools.

And let’s be honest: parents don’t care about political divides or the rhetoric of the day. They care about finding the best school for their child.

Here’s what parents care about: the sad fact that more than 90% of black and Hispanic kids in a district school DID NOT pass last year’s state exams in Math and ELA. They care that the Buffalo City School District’s graduation rates are among the worst in the state. They care that one third of Hispanic and Latino students are more likely to drop out than finish their schooling. They care that 43 of every 100 black students won’t graduate in four years. These are the devastating facts about Buffalo’s school system.

Charter schools can’t fix everything but they are a big part of the solution. There are 15 charters schools in Buffalo and 14 of them are considered to be in good standing. In the city school district, only 15 out of 56 schools are doing well enough to avoid state intervention or a plan for improvement.

Charters are working for the thousands of students who attend them – parents who are opting for schools that work, by and large, instead of schools that are failing. Including the charter parent voice in a district partnership is a great step forward for education in our city.

 

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 DPCC President Sam Radford.
 
We couldn’t have made this progress without the leadership and tenacity of the DPCC President Sam Radford. He knows full well that this work can’t be done in a silo.

He also understands that learning from and sharing ideas with charter school parents will only strengthen the future of Buffalo’s children, no matter what type of school they attend.

The Buffalo school district has been slow to change, but charters are the most immediate agents of change in our school system today.

We look forward to working together to uplift this city together.

Duncan Kirkwood, education activist has returned home to help the children of Buffalo that are often left voiceless. This is his first column for the bullet.

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4 Comments on "Charter School Parents now included in DPCC"

  1. Zachary C. Husser | September 14, 2016 at 10:16 pm | Reply

    Dear Buffalo Parents Interested in Excellence in Education,

    It’s true that real collaborations are necessary to really be successful in any major undertaking. The Education of Our Children is the one that requires the most collaborations of anything we do for Our Families! We have great schools because Parents are thoroughly involved in the Educational Goals of their Children. Parents are actively involved in the Parent Association and takes a leadership role in anything that has to do with the education of their children.

    Selecting a great leader as the Principal of the school is a must because the Leader gives the teachers and staff their marching orders to teach as well as show the students they believe in the students educational goals. Everyone in the school has a part to play and Black Men are critical to our young people getting an excellent education. For too many years Black Men in majority haven’t been involved in the educational dreams of their Children. Usually, the only time a Black Man showed up to the School was to help resolve some negative issues his children were involved in. In the majority of student and school relationships, Black Men are no where to be found. I challenge Black Men to change that scenario!

    In concluding, No one is coming to save our students form outside of our Neighborhoods unless it’s folk who look just like us. We’re the change agents we’ve been looking for. Our Black and Hispanic Children have been destroyed educationally because WE Parents have given our children to others to educate. That has not worked for as many decades as most of us can remember. It’s worst right now than when I was a young man! We can change the educational outcomes, but it’s hard work that will last for the life time of Our Children working to get an excellent education. No vacations to Save the lives of Our Children. Once again, We’re the Change Agents we’ve been looking for to solve and resolve the failures in the current Educational System in Buffalo and all of the Cities Black and Hispanics reside in. The lack of teaching is all of Our Cities and doesn’t that tell you something about the current Educational Systems in the United States of America. Once again, we’re the Change Agents we’ve been looking for.

    Finally, just in this message I’m sending to you, but not in what we must do to take the education of our Children Back in Our Hands. Most of Us were educated in Public Schools and Public School Education works when You work Public Schools. Once again, we’re the Change Agents we’ve been looking for. When you take your children out of the Public School, you take the dollars per child along with them to those Charter Schools. What about Really Getting Involved in the Public Schools so You support the Principal and make sure Real Teaching is taking place in the schools in the areas you reside in! We have choices to make, but if we don’t get involved, the same old outcomes will happen! Once again, We’re the Change Agents we’ve been looking for. Do You Read Me Loud And Clear???

  2. At Tapestry Charter School, 72% of students were not proficient in both ELA and Math; 86% of black students were not proficient in ELA and 91% of black students were not proficient in Math. BPS continues to outperform Rochester and Syracuse on state assessments and in graduation rate, even though the state ranks Buffalo as the highest of the Big 5 City School Districts for students with significant needs at 90%.

  3. For Charter School for Applied Technologies, per arbitrary state assessments results- 82% were not proficient in ELA and 81% were not proficient in Math; 87% of black students were not proficient in ELA and 88% of black students were not proficient in Math.

  4. There are 20 BPS schools in good standing.

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