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Letter: Data doesn’t represent health of Bennett Park

Data doesn’t represent health of Bennett Park

The news that five Buffalo schools had been placed under receivership shocked School 32 Bennett Park Montessori. The report noted that “five other schools will now be taken over by [Superintendent Kriner] Cash during the next school year.” This was false. Priority status and receivership are not the same thing.

Our school recently celebrated its state review, and news that we received $1.25 million in state funding to develop the Montessori program and provide more seats for students who desire what no other school in the area offers: a Montessori education in a richly diverse environment. Among people familiar with it, Bennett Park is called “the best kept secret in Buffalo.” It’s a bright place, where students are supported by dedicated, innovative teachers.

As a parent of a student at Bennett Park, I did not choose the school for its data. Its scores will improve as students adjust to Common Core, and the Socioeconomic Integration Grant is implemented. Perhaps our star will rise. I’d be thrilled, but part of me thinks: Who cares? The school has little control over its reputation. It doesn’t control who takes the tests and how testing data is used. It cannot show meaningful “data” – like the state review tenets under which we thrive, teacher practice, student support and parent involvement.

Data does not represent our school’s health. I could rave about Bennett Park. Sure, we could print car stickers and tout our proximity to downtown – but the status of bumpers and buzz is based on what sort of parents “buy in.” Bennett Park teaches critical thinking, intrinsic motivation, resilience, self-management and relationship skills in mixed-age rooms that allow for “differentiated learning” – opportunities for gifted and struggling students. In other words, a quality education.

Kate Steilen

Buffalo