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Another Voice: Administrative system penalizes Buffalo students

By Al Bruno

When Buffalo high school kids this year were left high and dry without qualified sports coaches in place and shortchanged on talent programs, like music and art, important decision-makers in the human resources department and district administration need to be taken to task for nonperformance.

This is a classic case of an unchecked, structural travesty that is allowed to grow here in Buffalo over the years: an apparatus that is ferociously out of control. As a result, Buffalo administrators have no salient, causal explanations or inventive resolutions to fix it.

As a longtime Buffalo teacher, I can tell you from experience that this charade and “hiding in plain sight” strategy is never allowed in suburban school districts, but in Buffalo, we have to endure this ongoing dysfunction. Why?

Instead, what those suburban braintrusts do, purposefully and strategically, is admirable and forward-thinking and what winning districts do: They roll up their sleeves, get to work, and iron out the kinks and issues over the summer.

Suburban braintrusts void out the dysfunctional, impenetrable barriers of the past and replace them with models of success for the future: That is 21st century thinking in motion.

Buffalo’s human resources department and district administration are unwilling to put those hard reps in over the summer behind closed doors, working cohesively and pensively in teams, synthesizing the data and quietly making the necessary gains.

None of those corrections-in-place happen in Buffalo. And why is that?

For starters, the suburban districts do all their postings, interviews and appointments over the summer. They do their homework and thoroughly assess the candidates, getting their selections right. They earmark funding sources and write proposals of substance, securing the funding for talent and after-school programs that were perilous and in question, and they get the desired results.

What happens, then, way too often in Buffalo is the human resources department and school principals don’t get the coaching hires right, inviting multiple grievances from teachers, and they don’t secure the critical funding for music and art, sadly. This affects hundreds of students and teachers, including me, over the years.

Wrongful selection outcomes inevitably create rifts and tensions between principals and teachers. To make matters worse, the human resources department is coached to sit on their hands, pander politely to principals, and intentionally delay and even postpone reaching resolutions, irreparably hurting the futures of Buffalo’s high school students.

Al Bruno teaches special education and English at Hutchinson Central Technical High School.

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