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Another Voice: Public must demand more of city school system

Dismal test scores continue to prove what the families of Buffalo school children should find outrageous – city schools aren't getting the job done.

Taxpayers are paying too much, and getting poor results. The public school system's graduation rate fell to 46 percent last year, despite spending at least $18,000 per student – enough to send every one of them to Nichols with fully paid tuition, and to put extra thousands into his or her college fund. Teachers have great pay and benefits while the third-poorest city in America cheats impoverished students out of their right to a decent education. The people involved in this blame everyone but themselves.

The Buffalo Teachers Federation continues lawsuits to force the school district to reinstate multiple health carriers, which will cost the district $15 million more per year for teachers to receive the same benefits they currently receive under a single health carrier, and force the district to lay off younger teachers and increase class sizes.

There are nine ex-principals in City Hall getting $90,000 a year. We hire and promote based on who you know and not on how good you may be at your job. The union and its political allies fight educational standards and expect us to lay back while math and English test averages continue to fall into the abyss.

One must respect Phil Rumore's ability, but not his lack of respect for the people of our city. He learned how to negotiate with historically and collectively incompetent school boards, and Albany does his will. He has a stacked deck at the School Board, which is elected in a separate May election by less than 5 percent of the electorate. A political alliance, which I see as including Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples and the Grass Roots organization and African-American sororities, lobbies intensely against moving those elections to November for bigger voter turnout.

Many teachers want a better school system without fear of guns and undisciplined children, and they know the burdens the anti-child alliance places on the children. They felt a calling to teach, and struggled for their degrees in order to help children learn – not to baby sit and experience daily the horror of those mired in the quagmire.

Our failed school system is primarily responsible for the decay of our city and the flight of the middle class to the suburbs. There are insane regulations imposed by Albany for dealing with incompetent teachers and tenure – two years and $200,000 to try to discipline a high school principal? What planet are we on? How long will our community continue to accept failure?

Young teachers will realize Rumore's policies will cost them their jobs. But when are the Regents going to do their jobs and dismantle this dysfunctional system? Throwing money at it doesn't work. Charters work. A residential charter would work. The good citizens of our community demand responsible leadership.

Carl Paladino is a Buffalo businessman and developer.

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