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Shame on absent school parents Education reform in Buffalo needs parental backing and involvement

The absence of a flood of parents -- in fact the absence of any parents -- at a Common Council meeting to discuss, of all things, parental involvement in the city schools, is telling.

Only one parent bothered to attend the meeting, Janique S. Curry, who was there, too, as a School Board member. Parents wanted the meeting held during the evening and Antoine M. Thompson, chairman of the Education Committee, complied. Five out of the current eight Council members attended.

Lovejoy Council Member Richard A. Fontana said you won't have great parental involvement until neighborhood schools are fully functioning, but what about the work that needs to be done until then? Superintendent James A. Williams has announced a number of initiatives designed to raise test scores and improve the quality of Buffalo public education. While he has injected more energy and excitement into the public schools than they've seen in years, he's going to have an uphill battle if the Council meeting is any indication.

Some Council members suggested that the meeting was not well advertised, a poor excuse. Ads were placed in newspapers and flyers distributed to community centers. Thompson suggested parents will show up when refreshments are offered. Friendly bribery shouldn't be necessary. Head Start programs of the Community Action Organization, for instance, have 75 percent parental involvement at meetings. Kudos to Council members in their desire not to give up on community forums. Let's hope more parents show up. For the sake of the kids.

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