‘Demonstration school’ proposal has many benefits - The Buffalo News

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‘Demonstration school’ proposal has many benefits

By Norman Bakos

I belong to a salon group composed of area members of the Creative Education Foundation and the Creative Problem Solving Institute.

Most of the members are graduates and/or professors at the International Center for Creative Studies at SUNY Buffalo State.

Many of us are ready, willing and exceptionally able to assist the leaders of the Buffalo School District in solving many of the problems that teachers and students are experiencing. Complex problems require multiple solutions and the cooperation of many dedicated problem-solvers.

We feel that the political and educational leaders in Washington, Albany and Buffalo must stop playing the blame game and begin replacing the failed policies that have been allowed to exist for decades. Those playing the blame game believe that everyone else is at fault for all that is wrong in our school district, when in reality, everyone is at fault, including the students and their parents.

On July 10, I presented Superintendent Pamela C. Brown and the newly elected Buffalo School Board a request to schedule meetings for teachers and parents at Lovejoy Discovery School to receive information that would assist them in evaluating the benefits of a proposed conversion of the school into an innovative district-created, site-governed demonstration school that would include Common Core standards and modern Socratic teaching techniques.

Buffalo Teachers Federation President Philip Rumore, Regent Robert Bennett, District Parent Coordinating Council President Samuel Radford and Common Council President Richard Fontana have all told me that they feel discussions should begin.

On Wednesday, the School Board will vote on whether to begin discussions. If the initiative is implemented in September 2014, the school would be managed by a site-governing council through a memorandum of understanding negotiated between the district, the BTF, the District Parents Coordinating Council and community leaders and residents.

The site-governing council would be autonomous. Its responsibilities would include selecting the principal and teachers; determining the budget, the learning model, the length of the school day and year; and setting policies, employee work rules and wages.

The benefits of converting the school are that the school remains a district school, it closes a failing school, it opens up seats for transfers, it would be a potential alternative to creating more Buffalo charter schools, and all teachers and staff would be union employees.

I believe the initiative will bring all current players of the blame game together under a new “what’s-best-for-our-students” banner.

Norman Bakos graduated from Lovejoy School 43 in 1947. He is project coordinator of Solutions Partnering.

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