Teachers from many Buffalo schools showed up at a rally last Wednesday outside Buffalo City Hall to make known their concerns about violence in the schools.
"What do we want? Safe schools! When do we want it? Yesterday!" the crowd chanted during the rally, which was held in response to recent incidents in which teachers were injured breaking up fights at school.
In an interview, Buffalo Teachers Federation President Philip Rumore said: "Our plan to help the problem of violence in public schools is to make sure that the 5 percent of the students who are disrupting the education of the other 95 percent of students that want to learn are removed until we can be sure that they will not continue to disrupt the education of those who want to learn."
The board closed the alternative high school due to budget problems. Teachers would like to see it reopened. "Plans for the reopening of the alternative school are not yet for sure. However, we will continue to work to make sure that it is reopened," Rumore said. When asked if there are any other ways to deal with violence in schools, Rumore responded, "By dealing with the students with the problems in elementary grades and get them the help they need when the problems are just beginning. Removing the students that are violent and disruptive."
Students also attended the rally and board meeting. Aimee Lang, a senior at Hutch Tech High School, praised Hutch-Tech Principal Dave Greco as "a friend, mentor, and leader for students to follow. He is able to maintain order and have fun at the same time. There haven't really been any violent incidents at my school."
Violence in Buffalo schools has grown since the beginning of this school year. In only three months, three teachers were injured at Lafayette High School.
At the board meeting, Rumore mentioned the incidents with Lafayette teachers breaking up fights in the school.
Lafayette senior Amanda Cantwell says "I am very concerned about this year's events and hope we can change things for the better." When asked how she feels about reopening the alternative school, she said: "I love the idea! It gives students that want to learn the opportunity to do so with peace of mind. It's just what we need."
The violence at school has interfered with other students' education because the teachers leave the classroom to help try and break up the fight. Though taking the violent students out of Lafayette may help with other students education, will it help with the violence problems? Everyone has his or her own opinion on this issue. My opinion is that it is not fair for the teachers to get hurt. As a speaker at the board meeting said: "If our children can't feel safe in their own school where can they be safe?"
Melissa Downey is a sophomore at Lafayette High School.