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Another Voice: For success in Buffalo schools, we must build up students and teachers

By Roberta Cates, Kristen Mendoza and others

An increasing number of the city’s public school students are heading to college, thanks to tuition assistance provided by Say Yes Buffalo. U.S. News & World Report names three Buffalo high schools – City Honors, Hutchinson Central Technical and Leonardo da Vinci – among the very best public high schools in the nation.

West Hertel Academy’s pre-K program is featured by the Associated Press and held up as the perfect model for the kind of full-day, statewide pre-kindergarten envisioned by education experts and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

There is much to be proud of in our city’s schools. The newly established Buffalo Parent Teacher Organization believes it is important to build up our hard-working students and educators. The byproduct of an organic movement started by parents, educators and other concerned citizens, the Buffalo PTO aspires to initiate, support, advocate for and recognize positive projects, programs and accomplishments of our students and schools.

Everyone has concerns and hopes for our district. The Buffalo PTO allows all of us to share concerns and highlight the positive things going on in Buffalo. We have to have a place where we all feel welcome and can voice our opinions and celebrate our successes.

The Buffalo PTO has no political or religious affiliation. We aim to be an inclusive organization and foster collaborative relationships among parents, educators and community members.

We are interested, too, in working with and supporting other established parent-teacher organizations in the city. Any parent, guardian or adult acting as a parent for a student attending a Buffalo public school – including charter schools – is welcome. So, too, is any school or district administrator, and any school staff member, whether employed by the district or a volunteer.

We realize that there are great challenges facing our schools, students and community. But we believe a coalition of educators, parents and concerned citizens is the best way to tackle these challenges. By increasing parent involvement and arming parents with information, we believe this will encourage sound and responsible decision-making for the benefit of our schools and students.

The bottom line is that we believe in children. Like the adage says, “It takes a village.” We must all work together to explore and give every child an opportunity to be happy and successful.

Roberta Cates, Kristen Mendoza, Marsha Phillips and Larry Scott are co-chairmen of the Buffalo PTO.