The schools solution that came out of the state budget process is a step in improving outcomes for children currently trapped in failing systems.
In Buffalo, this is of particular importance given the overwhelming majority of schools considered underperforming.
Consigning students to remain in such schools with little to no chance for a sound education should be criminal, and anyone knowingly perpetuating these violent acts against students put on notice.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has been a strong voice at the top on advocating reform measures. He wants the best educational outcomes and his enthusiasm toward that goal has angered and frustrated teacher unions that would rather keep tradition that has supported those who shouldn’t be in the classroom.
An agreement between the governor’s office and the State Legislature is about to change all that, and Buffalo and the rest of the state will be better for it.
Five Buffalo public schools could be among the initial beneficiaries of a plan to put the schools under a state-mandated receiver after next school year if they come up short on efforts to turn failures into successes.
The schools in question: Buffalo Elementary School of Technology; Futures Preparatory School; West Hertel Academy; and Burgard and South Park High schools.
These schools are among 27 statewide that could face outside control. And, as reported, many more Buffalo Public Schools might find themselves in the same position after a couple of years.
The state receivership model is the hammer that could persuade some measure of cooperation from the teachers union. While the law doesn’t allow a receiver simply to override a union contract, it does permit an arbitrator to impose terms on such issues as hiring and firing, the length of the school day and teacher training if the district and union fail to reach agreement on them. That’s a fair approach that gives due consideration to labor’s ability to bargain while also protecting students from the theft of their educations.
Under the legislation, schools considered failing by the state for 10 or more years would have one year to turn the educational tide around, and would be given monetary aid and state support to do so, including “enhanced powers” in dealing with union contracts. Those with fewer years of failure would have two years to make demonstrable progress before an outside receiver would take over.
If those schools do not demonstrate the progress – however it may be defined – then a receiver also armed with “enhanced powers” would take over. The receiver could be an individual, a nonprofit organization or another school district. If it fails to make demonstrable change in two years, another would be assigned.
It’s no surprise that New York State United Teachers President Karen Magee doesn’t like any of this. Still, it’s laughable when she tries to convince others that Cuomo took a political beating in this negotiation and that his education policies come “from his hedge fund friends who would like to see public education destroyed.” Say what?
Here’s the point: The threat of an entity with the power to make structural changes might be the catalyst for cooperation that is otherwise not forthcoming.
If not, then bring in the receiver.