The positive effects of Say Yes Buffalo are incalculable when measured in the difference the organization is making in the lives of students who will have more choices as they look for jobs, and for businesses looking to hire.
For evidence, look to recent news showing that the percentage of Buffalo Public School graduates who continued on to a two- or four-year college increased to 67 percent for the class of 2015.
Now the district is in the position of being that much closer to the national rate for more affluent districts. That’s a big statement for the struggling school district.
Much of the news lately has been centered on a heated School Board race involving district challengers and incumbents. That contest was overrun by special interest groups, parent and teacher organizations. It is good to get back to discussing students, first and foremost.
Say Yes Buffalo has been excellent at focusing on the children and providing whatever resources students and their families need to navigate the bureaucracy of transcripts, test scores and letters. Say Yes threads the financial needle for families in the form of scholarships. It also does a great job of providing wraparound services that address the barriers to success.
The results show an increase in the rate of college-bound high school graduates up 10 points since 2012, which is the year before the organization offered its first round of scholarships.
One of among many positive and exciting signs about this organization is the fact that it plans on doing more. David Rust, executive director, was quoted in The News talking about the positive trend in the number of graduates heading to college. He expects to see those numbers rise. And why not?
Against a backdrop of increasing numbers of high school graduates deciding – nationally and statewide – not to pursue higher education, Buffalo has increased its percentage. And those numbers could rise further when data becomes available for students who graduated in 2015, but did not enroll in college until the spring semester.
For the class of 2014, those later enrollments increased the percentage of college-bound students to 69 percent from 65 percent.
Buffalo also did better in the framework of the typical performance in communities with large poor and minority populations compared with national results. The urban district also did well compared with more affluent districts with a much smaller minority population, which scored five points higher than in Buffalo.
Everyone has the ability to succeed. That was the point made over and over again by numerous educators, including John B. King Jr., the nation’s education secretary and recent New York education commissioner. King would not listen to excuses as to why Buffalo students were failing.
The new state education commissioner, MaryEllen Elia, is equally convinced of the abilities of all students. And Kriner Cash, Buffalo’s new school superintendent – recommended by Elia and confirmed by an 8-0 School Board vote – is making progress and should be supported by the newly elected board.
Cash credited the Say Yes Buffalo partnership with providing students a reason to work hard and graduate with the “promise of a college tuition scholarship.” He is absolutely correct. The result of that partnership should continue benefiting students and their community.