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Letter: Nation’s urban schools need special attention

Nation’s urban schools need special attention

American cities that have a large number of poor families like Buffalo, cities with limited ability to expand beyond their borders, will never have success in their schools without more innovative thinking. Also, there is little chance of succeeding when there is too much political interference. These urban schools have to be different and need special attention. The Buffalo Public Schools, for now, should become a special district, with an appointed board, and superintended by the state’s Education Department with input from educators and parents.

The best schools and charter schools should remain open. Most people don’t like it, but some city students should be able to attend suburban schools with the state paying their tuition.

American schools are more effective with middle- and upper-class families that feel they have a stake in society, and these schools are doing well. We don’t need national goals and excessive regulations. There can’t be one standard for everyone. For schools in cities like Buffalo, local needs, special attention for troubled students, keeping kids interested and developing occupational skills are far more important than constant testing, or tougher courses that may not be necessary.

As a teacher, I knew going back to the Reagan administration and “A Nation at Risk” that most of these proposed reforms wouldn’t work, if they could be implemented to begin with. I believe that most elected officials, and those not in the field of education, generally don’t have any understanding of the problem. Reason and practicality is needed, not idealism. Not everyone is destined to be a rocket scientist.

Joel LaPlaca