Tuesday, May 06, 2014
I was #102 at my polling place this morning at 9:00ish. Pretty good turnout for a school board election. It'll be interesting to see how it shakes out: my vote resembled the Buffalo News' endorsements not at all. Carl Paladino has put a lot of money into this election-- we may get a picture of how wide (or deep) his support is. Me personally? (1) I think charter schools are a union-busting tactic that have next to no relevance to actual educational outcomes. Charters that are full of poor kids perform/fail at just about the same rate as do traditional public schools. To the extent that there is any variation whatsoever, I suspect it can be accounted for by the greater involvement of parents who put their kids in a charter. That investment would carry over, so I do not see that the charter model can be said to improve outcomes. (2) Unions are good. They promote and protect academic freedom, and prevent abuse. (3) We cycle through school superintendents at a furious rate in Buffalo. It seems to me that superintendents are probably not the real problem; that some stability might help the situation; and that a fair amount of the discontent that exists with regard to the present superintendent is a combination of frustration with a poverty-infected system and plain old racism. I doubt that a clone of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John Dewey and Horace Mann could do much in a system where eighty-six percent of the students qualify for free or reduced rate meals. (4) Common Core is a red herring. The Buffalo School Board has nothing whatsoever do do with this issue.