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Another Voice: Buffalo teachers union fighting for art, music students deserve

By Philip Rumore

It is bad enough that Buffalo Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash and the Board of Education are depriving our students of the art and music programs that they deserve and to which they are entitled.

Adding insult to injury, they have allowed General Counsel Nathaniel Kuzma’s statements in the Dec. 26 Buffalo News, on their behalf, to be made without rebuttal, i.e. this is “another maneuver on behalf of the Federation to impact negotiations” and “why are they filing the week before Christmas in the middle of the school year?”

These sound like the “witch hunt” and “fake news” phrases that politicians use to hide from the truth.

The truth is:

• On Nov. 7, 2018, a memo went to the superintendent relating the severe lack of art and music available for our students. State regulations were included.

• On March 13, 2019, a memo was sent to the superintendent and board containing the results of a Buffalo Teachers Federation survey of teachers detailing the detrimental lack of required art and music programs for our students. The regulations were again included.

• On Aug. 28, 2019, BTF representative Jenna Burke requested a meeting with the principal at Hutchinson Central Technical High School and the supervisor of music to discuss the lack of art and music programs – for example, concert band and chorus – not being able to meet as a group.

• On Sept. 3, Burke emailed Kuzma, advising him of the shortage of required art and music programs for students at Hutch-Tech so that the problems could be resolved before school began. Nothing was done.

• On Dec. 17, after receiving no response from the district, on what we began back in November 2018, the BTF filed suit on behalf of our students.

Also, a July 29, 2015, correspondence to the board from the then supervisor of music, who, while raising other concerns, delineated the district’s lack of support for the music programs for our students.

In addition, we were forced to file an improper practice charge against the district and the principal at Hutch-Tech for retaliating against two teachers who, along with parents, were fighting for their students to receive the art and music they deserve and that are required by the law.

This has nothing to do with our negotiations. Urban and poor students can and do aspire to be musicians, artists and to be appreciative of the arts.

Since 2018, the BTF and parents have been fighting for our students to receive the art and music programs they deserve and are required to receive.

The superintendent, members of the Board of Education and Mr. Kuzma should be ashamed of their attempts to disparage the parents and BTF who are fighting for our students.

Philip Rumore is president of the Buffalo Teachers Federation.

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