Are You Smarter Than a 3rd Grader?!

by Barbara Nevergold

barbara nevergold .png

I've written about standardized tests in previous articles, but given the State’s mandate that the Buffalo School District either turn over BUILD Academy to an independent receiver or close the school and re-open it as a new school, this is a good time to revisit the problem of high stakes testing. The State’s determination was based upon the failure of the school to make “demonstrable improvement” since being placed on the “persistently struggling” list two years ago.

BUILD Academy was given twelve specific performance indicators as achievement goals. BUILD students demonstrated improvement in 4 of the 12 key indicators but not in the other eight. The latter were all test-based indicators. Ultimately, student performance on the State’s standardized English Language Arts and Math tests did not achieve proficiency levels required by the State Education Department. As a school board member and educator, I have followed the high stakes testing debate for some time.

There are numerous reasons why we should question the validity of using these tests as a principal accountability measure of our children’s capability and a determinant of the future of our schools. The tests 1) are not developmentally appropriate – reading levels are far above the grade level being tested 2) are not diagnostic; they don’t provide information that helps the teacher target individual student learning needs 3) are not differentiated by student need as almost all children take the same test, regardless of their cognitive ability or their English language proficiency; it’s a one size fits all approach 4) encourage teaching to the test at the expense of time for other subjects 5) demoralize and frustrate children.

In addition, test results are being used to grade schools and to evaluate educators, even though statistics experts dispute the validity of this methodology. Few parents/community members have an idea of what the tests are like. The ELA Tests are principally made up of long reading passages. The paragraphs in the articles are numbered and students are given multiple choice questions or are asked to write short answer responses. The multiple choice questions give four possible answers. Students need to reference the article to select their answer. The passages are lengthy and educators, who have evaluated the reading level of these passages, have found them to be two to three or sometimes four levels above the reading level of the students being tested.

The following is a test question from the 2017 3rd grade ELA test. “Excerpt from Astrophysicist and Space Advocate Neil deGrasse Tyson” by Marne Ventura Buffalo Schools at the Crossroads: Are You Smarter than a 3rd Grader?!


1. The lights in the planetarium dimmed. Nine-year-old Neil sat in the darkness and stared up at the huge domed ceiling. The audience grew silent. A voice boomed, "We are now in the universe, and on a high, curved ceiling here are the stars:' 2. It was Neil's first visit to the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. He had seen the night sky many times from his home in the Bronx. He had seen a few stars and the moon. But tonight, was different. On the ceiling above him, he saw countless stars, planets, and constellations-groups of stars that form shapes. 3. Not long after this, Neil and his family took a trip to Pennsylvania. Away from the lights of New York City, he was able to see the stars more clearly. He realized the stars he had seen on the planetarium ceiling were not just part of a show. They were real. He wanted to know more about them. Neil felt like the universe was calling him.”

This passage continues for another 8 paragraphs for 11 paragraphs in all, over 800 words. The questions based on the reading asks the students to select the most appropriate answer, based on specific paragraphs that they are directed to reference, as in the following: In Paragraph 3, when the author says that "Neil felt like the universe was calling him," she is referring to how (A) he heard the booming voice inside the Hayden Planetarium on his first visit (B) he was delighted by seeing the stars inside the Hayden Planetarium (C) his experiences looking at the stars made him want to learn more about astronomy (D) he wanted to spend more time in the countryside because he could see more of the sky Paragraph 6 of the passage supports paragraph 3 by showing that Neil (A) saw the same things at home that he saw at the planetarium (B) wanted to return to Pennsylvania to use his new binoculars (C) continued his interest in learning about the universe (D) tried to share his interest in stars with his parents. To answer the second question, students must look back at paragraph 6 and in addition, they also need to re-read paragraph 3. to find the correct answer.

Until recently the tests were timed, and students had to complete then within a set time-frame. So, are you as smart as a 3rd grader? I can only provide a small snap shot of the ELA test here, but readers can make a firsthand assessment about the suitability of the ELA and the Math exams for all children, not just children of color as well as the use of test results to make determinations about school closure.

The State Education Department released a sampling of the 2017 tests in August and you can find these questions and rationales used for grading each test at released -2017-3-8-ela-and-mathematics-state-test-questions 

Barbara Seals Nevergold is the President of the Buffalo Board of Education but the views expressed here are her personal opinion and are not an official Board Statement.



“Changing the Mindset of Young Men From Victims to World Leaders"

KNIGHTS OF PYTHAGORAS: The youth of the Knights of Pythagoras are pictured above with Brian K. Lewis, Rev.Simmons,Mayor Brown and Bro. Anthony L. Pendergrass, esq. Photo by Ronnie Tillman / Made In your Image Photos

KNIGHTS OF PYTHAGORAS: The youth of the Knights of Pythagoras are pictured above with Brian K. Lewis, Rev.Simmons,Mayor Brown and Bro. Anthony L. Pendergrass, esq. Photo by Ronnie Tillman / Made In your Image Photos

The James McInnis Council #10 Valley of Buffalo Knights of Pythagoras youth mentorship program held its first annual awards dinner last Friday, October 6 at True Bethel Baptist Church.

Thirty outstanding young men were honored before an audience of proud parents, supporters and community leaders. “This is proof that there are positive things in the City of Buffalo for our young men to be involved in, and this (Knights of Pythagoras) happens to be one of them,” said Sir Knight Pastor Rev. Kenneth A. Simmons, District Director and the driving force behind the program .

“It is a privilege and an honor to work with these outstanding young men,” he proudly stated “It is my hope that this program has instilled values and morals that will help these young men grow and develop into the leaders and protectors of this community.” Rev. Simmons son, Emmanuel Simmons, was among those honored. A Master Knight who sits on the state board, he received the MLK Leadership Award from the Grand Lodge of the State of New York.

The Knights of Pythagoras, dedicated to God and the Universal Brotherhood of Mankind, accepts boys between the ages of 7-17 and helps to develop them into young men. The program promotes family values, provide educational scholarships, and plays a significant role in the uplifting of humanity, explained Rev. Simmons. The paramount aim of the Order, he continued “ is to serve the youth of our community with a well-organized and supervised program to promote health, social activity, educational, vocational, character, and all-around development of boys throughout the City, while building better sons of today, and men of tomorrow.”

The Knight of Pythagoras youth participants include Emmanuel Simmons, Kenneth Elliott, Kyree Elliott, Kam’ern Black, Rashad James, Rashid James, Justice Anderson, Deven Perry, Christian Perry, Isaiah Perry, David Williams, Eugene Davis, James Byrd, Malcolm Rice, Zyre Hutcherson, Jerard Johnson, Jordan Johnson, De Andre Martin, Roman Harris, Marcus Trotter, Antoine Brooks, David Edwards, Willie Manuel, Mylen Hunter, Jaylen Gadley, Jason Gadley, Stephen Swaggard, and Raekwon Mason.

-Outstanding Chapter-

Prior to delivering the keynote address, R.W. John F. Hudson, the New York City - based State Director of the Knights of Pythagoras, said that he was there to encourage the young men “to stay focused.” The order, he said, teaches love of God, respect for parents and especially respect for women. And since the country’s leadership is setting a poor moral example, he said they (the young men) "need to know their job is to protect their families and their communities…our program teaches them to be leaders."

THE KNIGHTS OF PYTHAGORAS “Changing the Mindset of Young Men From Victims to World Leaders" Mr. Hudson, who runs the state-wide mentoring program, said that the Buffalo order, out of seven districts statewide, was one of the largest and fastest growing in the state. “It’s a beautiful program,” he said . Praising Rev Simmons on an excellent job, he noted, “the devil has always been after the male child that’s why we need more men like Bro. Kenny!" In addition to dedicating himself to The Knights of Pythagoras, Rev. Simmons is involved in little league baseball and football and serves as full time Pastor of The Cold Spring Bible Chapel.

He is Director of Youth and Recreation for the City of Buffalo and also serves as Chaplin at the East Ferry Youth Detention Center. The Order of Pythagoreans is sponsored by and is under the supervision of the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York. Ritual is the focal point of all of the Order’s programming. Through it, the candidate in his initiation into the Order is presented impressive lessons to teach Reverence for God, Love and Honor for his Parents, Righteous Thinking, Purity, Patriotism, Toleration, Courtesy, Friendship and Constancy.

A Pythagorean's aim is to become a better son, a better youth and citizen than ever before. The local council is the James McInnis Council #10 Order of the Knights of Pythagoras in the Valley of Buffalo sponsored by Ionic Lodge No.88 and the brothers of the 7th masonic district.

If you have a son, relative, neighbor, or know of any at risk youth that may benefit from such a program contact, Brother Sir Knight Kenneth Simmons (716) 812-9324 or Brother Kermit Q. Petty (716) 563.9657. Local sponsors included Ionic Lodge No. 88, the Community Action Organization of Buffalo and Erie County (CAO) and Mayor Byron Brown. Bro. Simmons expressed special thanks to sponsors of the mentoring program and especially loyal supporters Sis.. Michel Hunter-Elliott, the Parent Coordinator; Sis Maria Dockery, Sis. Shanise Anderson and Sis. Tamika Sanders.. “Thanks to all the mothers for the privilege of working with their children!" he said.

“The Special Education & ADHD Wars Against Black Boys”

Dr. Umar Johnson, noted scholar and school psychologist, returns to Buffalo September 9 to Deliver a critically important message to the entire community.

Several years ago a study published in JAMA Pediatrics cited a 70 percent increase in the number of ADHD diagnoses among African American children. It is exactly these kinds of revelations that has caused noted Pan Afrikan lecturer, scholar and school psychologist Dr. Umar Johnson, to sound the alarm about what he terms “the Miseducation Cartel.”

On Saturday, September 9th at 4 p.m. Dr. Umar will deliver a timely message to the entire community of Buffalo at St. Luke AME Zion Church, 314 E. Ferry Street on the topic “Anatomy of a Mis-Diagnosis: The Special Education & ADHD War Against Black Boys.”

In a recent interview with The Challenger Dr. Umar described ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) as “the most popular disruptive behavior disorder used for African American boys.” He explained how prior to 1987 the condition came to us as ADD or Attention Deficit Disorder. But it grew into full blown ADHD in 1987 when they decided to add, what he calls, “the unholy H’’ and became ADHD – which basically allowed justification for medication.

At that point he continued, boys, for example, who only had an attention issue, were now placed under the same umbrella as children with hyperactive issues and everybody is placed on drugs. “So from my perspective… I clearly believe (the label) went to ADHD to justify medication for all boys, he continued. It also created an ethical issue when the principals of business, capitalism, greed, and Wall Street profit entered the realm of mental health.

“I’ve been in classrooms where every boy is on psychiatric medication,” he noted. “Clearly this situation has turned into a crisis but what must be kept in mind is the fact that Black parents are complicit in the psychological holocaust,” he admonished, "simply because nothing can happen without their permission. "

“One of my messages to parents, is you can’t blame the school when you gave them the green light to go ahead.” Parents have rights, he said, and the first step is “learning how to just say no.”

“Black parents have the belief they have to do what the school tells them ,” he said. “My job is to empower parents and equip them with knowledge to go in and keep their children out of Special Ed. The first step is learning how to just say no…” -

Special Consequences -

“Special education comes with its own set of consequences,” continued Dr. Umar. The two biggest consequences for placing Black children in Special Ed. , he said, are low self esteem and low expectations. Low self esteem “is one of the most overlooked aspects,” he explained. “They (children) are going to believe in the label and that something is wrong with them” automatically creating an invisible glass ceiling over the child’s head which will determine how far they can go in life.

In reference to low expectations, he explained that once a child enters a Special Ed. classroom their whole life changes. “You’re no longer held at the same standard…your education is dumbed down …all it does is slow down the speed of instruction under the presumption you can’t keep up or your can’t learn.” That, he said is the biggest paradox of special education . “Parents are told this program is going to operate at your child’s pace. You are also told our goal is to help them catch up…so how can they do that when you are in essence going slower?

The truth of the matter is they never catch up.” Special Ed. also feeds in to the high school drop out rate of Back children, he said, “not to mention the stigmatization of your ability to relate to your peers.” Taking it to yet another level he said that public schools have morphed into the waiting rooms to the prison industrial complex. Many if not most of the Black men in prison have average reading levels of 3rd or 4th grade and were Special Ed. kids, noted Dr. Umar. Striking proof, he said of “the direct link to Special Ed. and prison. In the school to prison pipeline –special ed is the special link in the pipeline. Surmised Dr. Umar : “I would argue that the purpose of education in the 21st century is to put Black boys in prison and Black girls in poverty.”

A strong proponent of independent Black institutions, he said: “The solution is for the Black community to take some of that $1.3 trillion dollars – our annual gross national product – and use it to build independent Black schools.” “It is absolutely unacceptable that Black Americans are literally standing by watching their children go to hell because they don’t want to spend their money where it needs to be spent…”

-Other Issues-

Although the “education machine” will be the main topic of his talk, Dr. Umar promises to touch on other issues as well from racism, Donald Trump, Black male/female relationships , the rise of police violence against Afrikan people and more. Doors open at 2 p.m. for the September 9th 4 p.m. address at St. Luke. Youth 17 and under and seniors 65 and older free.

For more information go to or call 844-4DR-UMAR Dr.

Umar is also encouraging Buffalonians to attend another upcoming event he is hosting in September. The National Independent Black Parent Association, an organization founded by Dr. Johnson a year ago to help parents across the country fight against the miseducation of our children, is holding a Southeast Regional National Leadership Training Conference September 15 and 16 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day in Durham, North Carolina at New Jerusalem Baptist Cathedral, 3405 Danube Lane. The theme is "Organizing Against Academic Apartheid." -A.B


Former UN Ambassador Andrew Young Addresses Buffalo State Upward Bound Students 

Former UN Ambassador Andrew Young Makes a Point To Students During His Address

Former UN Ambassador Andrew Young Makes a Point To Students During His Address

"Discipline yourself so you never get mad you get smart." -Andrew Young

The Upward Bound students of Buffalo State College were treated to life lessons by former United Nations ambassador and civil rights activist Andrew Young last Thursday at its summer program awards banquet.

Young, who served as the UN ambassador during the Carter administration, received the 2017 Hal D. Payne Educational Opportunity Lifetime Service Award during the banquet. He also served as the event’s keynote speaker. The former mayor of Atlanta, brought a message that gave both a history tutorial and a guide to navigate through today’s political turbulent time. It was also a navigation through the rough waters of life. “You should never turn your back on any human being,” Young stated. “It doesn’t matter what color, or age, or what culture, in each and every human being is the same thing that is in you.

That is the spirit of the living God” Don Patterson, the director of the Upward Bound program at Buffalo State, believed that having one of the foremost civil rights and global leaders as the keynote speaker at the event was invaluable for his students. “His message to the students was extremely timely,” Patterson said. “When he told them to believe in yourselves, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and grow from those mistakes.” “He emphasized history and the knowledge of it. He wanted the young people to realize that you must know your history during this turbulent time. His message was one of growth for these young minds.”

During the banquet, the students were treated to a video retrospective of Young’s multitude of service. The video showed the former congressman’s early life as a television personality in the 50’s, a civil rights leader next to Martin Luther King in the 60’s, the UN ambassador in the 70’s, and Mayor of Atlanta in the 80’s. His life was a road map for community service. He related his early life as a civil rights activist. He spoke of Former UN Ambassador Andrew Young Deltas To Host Jabberwock Info Session Addresses Buffalo State Upward Bound Students how he marched shoulder to shoulder with Dr. King in an attempt to gain equality for all races, colors and creeds.

Upward Bound students, like high school freshman Jhayla Chinn, were unaware of Young’s life experience. “His speech was very powerful,” Chinn said. “I had not heard of Mr. Young but after he spoke I wanted to learn more about him.” “I don’t know if I could do some of the things he did with Martin Luther King,” Chinn continued. “It was very brave and I learned a lot.” Ambassador Young also gave some insight to the current political climate. He made a compelling argument on why the presidential election turned out in favor of Donald Trump. “Many Americans in rural and poorer parts of the country wanted a simple answer for their plight,” Young explained. “The world is very complex and the answers are not very simple but people want plain answers.”

“Donald Trump gave a simple answer to many Americans that are feeling pain economically,” he continued. quiries. The President of DST Buffalo Alumnae Chapter is Dr. Mattie L. Rhodes, and the Jabberwock Chairpersons are Trina Burruss and JoAnna Johnson. “He spoke in a way that made sense to many of those people. Unfortunately, the country and the world does not work that way.”

Patterson gave an impassioned soliloquy, during the banquet, on why he wanted Ambassador Young to speak to his students. “We are moving towards the right thing. We are moving towards good. We are moving towards positive outcomes. (Everyone) Keep pushing. Everyone here is a part of it,” Patterson exclaimed. “ His (Young’s) life is an example of it. His life is an example of what you can do if all of us, not just one person, moving in one direction can achieve.”

After the event, Young took time to take pictures with many of the young people. He also continued to drop pearls of wisdom to the Upward Bound participants. Young also sat and had a discussion with long time local politician and community leader Arthur O. Eve. The meeting was a chance for the students to witness over a century of community service experience in one place.

Reach Academy Charter: A New School; A New Way of Learning 

There’s a new school opening up in September! REACH Academy Charter School located on Buffalo’s East Side is unlike any school that you’ve ever seen before. After seeing this school, you will wish you were back in kindergarten!!!!

There are a number of elements that make this school so very different. Unique Classroom Learning Environments Each classroom looks more like an exhibit out of a Children’s museum than a typical classroom! Kids spend five weeks in each classroom and will rotate around to 8 different rooms throughout the school year. Each room is modeled after a different theme such as a Farm, a Grocery Store, a Firehouse and a Construction Worksite. There’s even a Multi- Cultural Room, a Buffalo Community Room and a Dr. Seuss inspired room! Center Based Hands-On Learning also makes this school so unique. This means that students work in small groups and rotate throughout the classroom for learning that is hands-on.

The use of technology allows students to learn by solving problems and thinking critically and creatively on the computer in ways different than just pen and paper tasks in order to allow students to actively participate in their learning. uninterrupted with each group of students. Small Class Sizes Classes are capped at 20 and have two adults in each room most of the day. This allows teachers to build strong relationships with their students and make strong connections. If you would like to visit the school, please call for an appointment to visit at 716-248-1485 or just stop in.

This truly extraordinary school is located at 115 Ash Street near the corner of Genesee and Michigan. REACH Academy Charter School will begin this fall with Kindergarten and First Grade, adding one grade each year to eventually be a K to 8 Charter School. REACH Academy Charter School is now accepting applications for Kindergarten and Grade 1. Classes begin on Monday, August 28th. To see more pictures of the classroom learning themes visit their website at www.reachacademycharter. org.

A Message From School Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash to Parents & Community:

We Must All Keep Our Part of The 'Bargain'

For The Sake of The Children!

   School Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash 

   School Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash 

Parents and Community Members,

Please accept my profound gratitude to each and every one of you who have helped to make 2016-17 a successful school year that finished strong! Together, we have accomplished so much in this first full year of the New Education Bargain (NEB) with Students and Parents.

Our 34,000 students are beginning to understand at a very young age that academic success is non-negotiable, college is within reach, and that sound, sustainable careers are attainable for everyone who is well-educated. Under the NEB, in this year alone, we have reduced class sizes in the early grades, implemented an enriched literacy curriculum designed to foster “effortless” readers in our young people, created comprehensive after school programs in every school five days per week, provided needed supports for our students and families, and settled a competitive teachers’ contract for the first time since 1999. We also started seven exciting New Innovative High Schools and programs that pique our students’ interest and align with current and emerging industry.

The Buffalo City School District is demonstrating a level of public confidence, access, quality, and opportunity for students, unseen in a generation. Our Board of Education, together with parents, students, teachers, strategic partners, and our entire District community are working to accelerate gains in graduation rates and to markedly improve the skills students need for future success. We have transitioned from the role of merely observing Buffalo’s renaissance, to being one of its critical driving forces.

Our signature accomplishment may be the 13 Strong Community Schools we opened throughout the district. In addition to bringing in entire families and the community for enriched academics, Saturday programs, health and wellness activities, and adult classes, Community Schools have given us our best inroad yet toward full parent engagement. Area businesses, the faithbased community, colleges and universities, local banking establishments, foundations, health care organizations, and many more have come to our door in support of our Community Schools initiative.

These essential partnerships bring with them both funding and services that are vitally important to the work we do on behalf of children and families. Your commitment to the NEB and support of the Community Schools has provided knowledge that will be vital in the development of additional Community Schools in the near future. I ask that you please continue to participate in Community School activities. We have so much to learn from each other and you are a crucial part of every facet of the New Education Bargain. When the community places a high premium on education; when schools commit to every student's success; and, when parents are involved--making sure their children go to school, attend classes every day, complete their work and show respect for teachers and staff--we are all keeping our part of the Bargain.

Enjoy your summer as we all re-energize for the 2017-18 school year. We’ve come a long way, but we have many more miles to travel. Certainly, we are striving to embody the old African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone.

If you want to go far, go together.” (Dr. Kriner Cash is Superintendent of Buffalo Public Schools.) 

Successful Season for

PS #94 West Hertel Saturday Academy

Pictured L-R:  Assistant Principal Carmelita Burgin, Principal Cecelie Owens, and Community School Director and FacilitatorKelly Ziegler during one of the SA sessions  

Pictured L-R:  Assistant Principal Carmelita Burgin, Principal Cecelie Owens, and Community School Director and FacilitatorKelly Ziegler during one of the SA sessions  

West Hertel Academy had a successful first season participating in the state wide SA (Saturday Academy) initiative and was one of three selected schools in the West Zone. Principal Cecelie Ownes has donea great job overall with her dedicated team to make West Hertel a great learning environment and this year from January through May of 2017 the first two Saturdays of each month for Saturday Academy were successfully designed to enrich children and families from the community with programing that was educational, supportive and fun filled!  Assistant Principal Carmelita Burgin, who was the lead administrator of the SA Initiative and Kelly Ziegler Community Schools Director / Site Facilitator, did an excellent job creating a welcoming environment for the community and an authentic, balanced experience for all the families who attended.  

The SA staff was a mixture of Buffalo teachers, aides, assistants and vendors from the community approved by Principal Owens and her team, to bring a diverse potluck of exposure to activities and experiences that would benefit the families and provide flexible educational programming. “We selected the courses based on what we thought families and students would enjoy as well as offering some educational programming. Based on attendance and responses from our surveys we were incredibly successful and are considered a model program within the district which makes us very proud” said Assistant Principal Carmelita Burgin and Community School Director & Facilitator Kelly Ziegler. 

Making safety a first priority, although the academy employs security for the sessions, parents are required to attend to help with supervision. There are many programs and activities that families can do together like movies, bingo, jewelry making, family cookingand more and also an opportunity for parents to engage in more grown up activities while their kids are playing and exploring other activities. “Saturday Academy (SA) is much less formal than the school week and is filled with activities that folks chose to participate in. We get to interact with everyone in a fun, easy manner. For the students it gives them a chance to explore options they might otherwise not know of like photo journalism andboxing” said the team.

The SA hours were from 10am – 1pm kicking off the day with breakfast and ending it with a hot lunch. Community attendance was consistent for the duration of 10 Saturdays scheduled and the last day of the academy drew their largest crowd of 450 people for the carnival theme on May12th.  Principal Owens and her team all chimed in agreement that“the best part of this experience was knowing that families were coming to West Hertel and having fun together. It was great when kids would ask during the school week what was happening during SA and talk excitedly about the plans for their family to attend” . The team is looking forward to another productive yeargearing up for SA sessions when school resumes in the fall.  If you are interested in volunteering or pitching course/activitiesfor the upcoming Saturday Academy contact Carmelita Burgin at 816-4150 or email ctburgin@buffaloschools.orgyou can also contact Kelly Ziegler at 816-4150. 

-Leah Hamilton

The New Learning Paradigm Charter School

Successful Entrepreneur and Charter School Leader

Donnie McQueen to Address Community Planning Meeting ForProposed New Charter

                           Donnie McQueen

                           Donnie McQueen

On Tuesday, May 23at 6 p.m.,  a local community group will conduct a community meeting at the Merriweather Library, 1324 Jefferson Avenue.  The meeting will feature Donnie McQueen, Executive Director of Torchlight Academy in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Under McQueen’s leadership Torchlight is a grade K-8 charter school that achieved the highest student academic growth of all public charter schools and was in the top onepercent of all public schools in North Carolina for student academic growth for the 2015-2016 school year.  Torchlight Academy serves a student population that is 100% minority (65% Black and 35% Hispanic), with 98% of students living below the federal poverty level (eligible for free or reduced price lunch). McQueen has over 15 years of experience as a charter school leader meeting the needs of at-risk student populations. 

Hehas been working with a local community planning group to organize the proposedNew Learning Paradigm Charter School in Buffalo.  The New Learning Paradigm Charter is planning to open in the 2018-2019 school year and will initially serve students in grades K-4.  The planning group is seeking community input on the School Design Plan, recruiting prospective board members, and seeking parent and community involvement in the planning process. 

Over 25 Buffalo District schools are currently in receivership due to low academic performance. Current conditions for certain sections of the Buffalo community is suffering a crisis in educational opportunity and school choice.  Amidst this crisis, local parents reached out to Mr. McQueen and his wife, Dr. Cynthia McQueen for guidance in improving the educational futures of children in Buffalo.  The McQueen’s have been supporting the local effort over the past year.  Dr. Cynthia McQueen is the current Principal of Torchlight. She servesas an Advisory Board Member for the North Carolina Public Charter School Alliance.  She has served as an Adjunct Professor at St. Augustine College and also has over 15 years of leadership experience in charter school administration.  The McQueens are natives of Buffalo.

Mr. McQueen’s visit is designed to get the community involved in improving the educational opportunities for children in Buffalo.  The agenda will include a presentation by Mr. McQueen, followed by a discussion regarding issues such as: School Discipline; Teacher Quality; Reading, Math and Science Programming; Academic Testing; Student Transportation; Student Nutrition; and other topics related to planning a new school.  Parents and community leaders are invited to attend.

“Education is the most powerful weapon

which you can use to change the world.”

The Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor views itself as an educational asset that can be a resource for educators who are looking to illuminate the common core curriculum with interactive activities that stimulate discussion. The Corridor is more than a tourist destination for visitors. It is also an academic, educational and cultural resource for Western New Yorkers seeking to appreciate the rich and diverse history of the city. Particularly for those seeking a deeper understanding of the contributions made by African Americans in civic society, music and community life both nationally and locally. Buffalo was and still is an incubator for national African American culture and thought. 

The emergence of the Michigan Street African American Corridor as a Heritage Site is due to the cultural heritage value of the Colored Musicians Club, the Michigan Street Baptist Church, the Jesse Clipper Park, WUFO1080AM and the Nash House along with other significant properties that have been demolished such as the Michigan Street YMCA. “A historic site or heritage site is an official location where pieces of political, military, cultural, or social history have been preserved due to their cultural heritage value.” (Oxford Dictionaries)

It is difficult to talk about the African American Heritage Corridor and ignore the importance of education and the lessons that can be learned when studying African American history, culture and heritage. African American history is rich in centuries- old efforts of resistance to the crisis in Black education: the slaves’ surreptitious endeavors to learn; the rise of Black colleges and universities after the Civil War; unrelenting battles in the courts; the black history movement; the freedom schools of the 1960s; and local community-based academic and mentorship programs that inspire a love of learning and thirst for achievement. Addressing the crisis in Black education should be considered one of the most important goals in America’s past, present, and future. (ASALH) This was the major reason why the 2017 theme for African American History Month was “The Crisis in Black Education”.

For example, The Michigan Street Baptist Church has been a central part of the history and culture of Buffalo for more than 150 years. The 1845 building became a legendary Underground Railroad station, providing escaped slaves sanctuary before crossing to freedom in Canada. National civil rights leaders have delivered powerful messages from the pulpit. The Colored Musicians Union, Local 533, is celebrating it’s one hundredth anniversary this year. It was formed in 1917. On April 15th the historic Colored Musicians Club is celebrating with a GALA that is being held at The Lafayette Hotel in downtown Buffalo. Tickets are $150 and a table for ten is $1500. Go to to purchase tickets and get more information. The J. Edward Nash House, the former residence of Reverend J. Edward Nash, is now a museum that houses his sermons and letters which are a crucial part of Buffalo’s African American civic history. WUFO 1080AM is the only African American female owned radio station in New York State. WUFO has provided America with nationally known radio personalities that have changed the industry. 

Yes, the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor has an important story to tell and a vital role to play in educating anyone who visits one of our historic sites. The Corridor views itself as part of the solution in the national conversation regarding the education of our youth. 

The Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor in partnership with the East High School, Dr. Theresa Harris-Tigg, elected Board of Education representative for the East District and Say Yes is hosting a student and community discussion on the responsibilities a village has in educating youth. This discussion is taking place on Saturday, April 1st, 2017 at East High School, which is located at 820 Northampton Street. The discussion will begin with breakfast in the school cafeteria at 10:00am. The program will feature a fishbowl where students address the challenges that are hindering them from achieving. These challenges become the focus of a second fishbowl focused on creating a deeper understanding of the student perspective while seeking solutions that galvanize students, parents, educators, and community stakeholders to take action! All are invited to attend this free event. RSVP at or contact Gail V Wells for further information at the aforementioned email address.

Strong Community Schools Are Here for YOU!

Pictured : Parent  attending West Hertel Academy Saturday School Program with her children

Pictured : Parent  attending West Hertel Academy Saturday School Program with her children

In 2016, the Buffalo Public Schools kicked off its Strong Community Schools initiative. Benefiting EVERYONE, the effort positions the school as a resource center, offering FREE programs after-school and on select Saturdays. Programs are academic, cultural, artistic, athletic, language and need-based. Meals are provided, and all ages are welcome. Check out to learn about the Saturday programs offered this month at the 13 Strong Community Schools.

FREE Adult and Community Education programs offered on weekdays.

In addition to the Saturday programs, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, participate in Adult and Community Education programs at Bennett, Lafayette, South Park and East high schools. Learn about the courses offered this month at and (716) 887-3912 ext. 200

Buffalo Public School Parents and Families Connect at BPS Parent Centers.

As part of the Strong Community Schools effort, the Buffalo Public Schools opened Parent Centers at Bennett, East, Lafayette, and South Park high schools. Open to parents and families of studentsat BPS schools, the Centers provide activities that assist parents in helping their children succeed. Here are some of the workshops being offered this month:

• East High School: Feb. 4th (10AM-12PM) You Matter: Interactions with Law Enforcement

• Bennett High School: Feb.8th (5:30PM-7PM) Parenting Fatherless Sons

• Bennett High School: Feb. 8th (5PM-7PM) Did you File Your Free FAFSA

• East High School: Feb. 27th (5:30PM-7:30PM) Adult Spades Tournament

• South Park High School: Feb. 28th (1PM-3PM) Fidelis Care Health Insurance Open House

Learn more about the above workshops, and the other BPS Parent Centers offerings at, (716) 816-3170, and

Get news and updates on Facebook atBPS Community Schools and BPSParentCenters

Follow us on Twitter @Buffalo_Schools


SUNYBuffalo State College Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration With Conversationalist Michaela Angela Davis

                                MICHAELA ANGELA DAVIS

SUNY Buffalo State College Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration is going to be one to have a front row seat for this year’s guest, Michaela Angela Davis.  Image activist, writer, creative director and cultural commentator, Michaela strongly believes this is the time for a critical community conversation about who we are and where we go  from here.  
“We need to talk about radical strategies to transform our lives,”  says Ms. Davis. “Martin Luther King  was a radical, a revolutionary and visionary. I plan to tap that energy because our young people should be aware that we support them and inspire them to be active because this is their time, their country and their work to do.” .

Michaela has been honored by NAACP, UNCF, The City of NY and written widely about gender, race, culture, beauty, identity (among other subjects) and known for her identity project MADFREE – liberating conversations about image, beauty and power and her current project on Black hair called The Hair Tales.  

A true conversationalist she has led talks on leading campus and television networks like ABC, MSNBC and BBC and is a frequent cultural critic on CNN. She lives in the Peoples Republic of Brooklyn and is the proud mother of a Buffalo State College Graduate Elenni Davis Knight.  

The event takes place Thursday, February 2 from 7- 9pm at the Burchfield Penney Art Center located at 1300 Elmwood Ave. The event is sponsored by the Buffalo State Equity and Campus Diversity Office, Faculty- Student Association, Alumni Affairs Office,  Burchfield Penney Art Center, The Grant Allocation Committee and the Challenger Community News.  You can also learn more about Michaela at  @michaelaangelad .



On Dec 17th West Hertel Academy held the kickoff to their upcoming Saturday Academy that will be held on the first and second Saturday of each month from January through May.

The Kickoff was a success with over 250 in attendance. Teachers, staff, parents and children were engaged in a number of live experiences and a variety of interesting and progressive activities, served a warm delicious breakfast and lunch and had a visit from Mayor Brown and Dr. David Mauricio. There were raffles, gift baskets and lots of smiling faces after the big holiday toy giveaway.

Principal Owens is excited to participate in this enriching community school program that will bring together schools and community resources to improve student learning and create stronger families and healthier communities. The community school zones include Buffalo Promise Neighborhood zone, South Buffalo Promise Zone, West Side Promise Zone and Eastside Innovation Zone

Holistic Life Foundation Program: “Holistic Me”:

Breathing Love Into Our Children

  Founders: from left Andes Gonzalez and  Brothers  Ali and Atman Smith 

  Founders: from left Andes Gonzalez and  Brothers  Ali and Atman Smith 

The Holistic Life Foundation, a Baltimore, Maryland non-profit that offers human and environmental health programsdevised an after school program called Holistic Me.  It was piloted in 2002 at Windsor Hills Elementary School, then hosted at the Druid Hill YMCA for 7 years. Now the Holistic Life Foundation’s after school program is facilitated at Robert W. Coleman Elementary School where they have had great success and no suspensions in the past year since implanting the program two years ago.  The program was founded by two brothers Ali and Atman Smith and Andes Gonzalez and their goal was to provide kids from a low-income and high-crime-rate neighborhood with the tools to cope with stress and anger.  The program currently serves 120 male and female students, from grades Pre-K through 5th. Students in Holistic Me benefit and grow in many ways from their participation. The children learn a combination of yoga, mindfulness practices, meditation, centering and breath work that empower them with skills for peaceful conflict resolution, improved focus and concentration, greater control and awareness of thoughts and emotions, improved self-regulation, anger management as well as stress reduction and relaxation. Over the past 15 years, students of the program have graduated and transitioned into mentor roles—former students now make up 50 percent of its workforce. For more Information about this organization go to:

Buffalo State Earns Top-30 National Ranking

Dr. Turner

Dr. Turner

(Washington Magazine)  SUNY Buffalo State ranks 26th nationally in Washington Monthly magazine’s 2016 master’s universities rankings released recently.

Washington Monthly's college rankings rate schools based on their contribution to the public good across three broad themes: social mobility, research, and service. The top master’s universities grouping includes more than 600 institutions from across the country. Last year, Buffalo State ranked 95th among master’s universities.

“I am delighted that Washington Monthly has once again recognized Buffalo State as one of America’s top colleges,” said Buffalo State President Katherine S. Conway-Turner, Ph.D. “Washington Monthly’s editors and data researchers should be commended for their focus on social mobility, research, and community service. Public institutions like Buffalo State exist to serve the public good of the communities they anchor. Each year, thousands of students are lifted up by a Buffalo State education, and in turn, develop into civically engaged leaders and change agents in Western New York and beyond.”

Buffalo State was also recognized in the regional “Best Bang for the Buck Colleges in the Northeast” category, ranking 72nd out of more than 380 four-year colleges and universities in the northeast. Buffalo State’s undergraduate in-state full-time tuition and fees are the lowest among all four-year colleges and universities in Western New York.

You Can’t Have It Both Ways: Education and Crime in Buffalo

By Duncan Kirkwood, 

Western New York Advocacy Manager for the Northeast Charter Schools Network

In Buffalo we have submitted to the idea that violent crime is a part of our everyday life. I recently heard a police officer say that a gun is fired in our city every day of the year. EVERY DAY! 

And what does it stem from? 

I believe violence is a direct result of the failed education system in this city. 

Buffalo is a city that is going through a cultural renaissance, a city that is attracting former residents, young and old, to return from across the country. But for this to last we have to get serious about fixing a broken system. A system where only 1 out of every 10 students reads on grade level, a system where we only graduate 6 out of 10 kids. Astoundingly, amidst this failure, the teachers’ union has convinced the Black community that the failed school system is their fault. 

The very people who claim they fight for the disenfranchised are fighting the disenfranchised.

The longer I watch the Buffalo City School District, and the more I learn, the more I believe that it is no accident that the system is failing our children. But it isn’t the community’s fault. I can assure you that parents don’t want their children to fail. Nobody wants their kids to turn to crime. My friends and neighbors want more and so do yours.

I keep hearing: “We need more money” from teachers and administrators, but the Buffalo school system has a budget of more than $850 million. We know there is waste -- remember that the union infamously negotiated their contracts to cover cosmetic surgery – but for nearly a billion dollars we should see academic results. I know that teachers have the hardest and most important job in our community – and I don’t think anyone is arguing otherwise - but when an awful teacher fails a class full of children, or a principal runs a school into the ground, someone needs to be held accountable. 

We have to move past excuses for the failures of the school system. If we are just going to sit silently as the schools churn through large sums of money and kids continue to drop out and go feed the jails, then we need to stop being so surprised when our homes get broken into, or when someone gets shot in a drive-by. 

We can’t have it both ways.  

We can’t have a city with a terrible school system and a city with low crime - we just cant. A child shouldn’t have to take a test, or literally win a lottery in order to get a great education. Every child should have the ability to go to a world-class school, regardless of how much money their parents make or where they live. We must demand more for our children now, or this renaissance will become one more failed attempt at a comeback.

WNY STEM Hub, SUNY Buffalo State and the Girls Scouts of America Teams up with AT&T to Launch the Region’s First All Girls Coding Program to Close the Tech Gender Gap

It’s Your World! Develop It! Powered by AT&T

Buffalo, NY - 2016 – AT&T, WNY STEM Hub, SUNY Buffalo State and the Girls Scouts of Western New York have partnered to create the region’s first computer coding program exclusively for girls, It’s Your World! Develop It! Powered by AT&T, to encourage more women to enter the field of technology, specifically coding, an industry that is alarmingly male-dominant.

The program will provide 40 girls from local urban middle and high schools an opportunity to gain coding skills and experiences over the next five months and engage them science, technology, engineering and math(STEM) career paths.

The inaugural class will start in July with  a Coding Day Camp for Girls weekdays from July 18 - 29, also a regional first, at Buffalo State’s new $36 million Technology Building, which is home to the college’s Computer Information Systems (CIS) Department. Participants will learn computer coding basics and will continue throughout the rest of 2016, taking part in education programing after school and on weekends.

It’s Your World! Develop It! Powered by AT&T will connect girls with team-based coding projects designed to make a difference in their schools and their community, while providing them hands-on experience developing their own technology. Girls will be guided by mentors of local tech professionals, educators and advocates to identify and design coding solutions to create such products as apps, digital storyboards, animated movies, learning games, or basic websites. Their projects will culminate during a “Girls Success Code” recognition event to be held during National Computer Science Education Week in December 2016.

 To eliminate economic barriers, the registration fee is only $25, which includes a one-year registration to be a Girl Scout. Additionally, if needed, participants will receive a free refurbished laptop computer to use as an educational tool throughout the program. To register, girls and their parents must visit and click on the It’s Your World! Develop It! Powered by AT&T link under upcoming events on the homepage.

Coding is quickly becoming the new literacy and is the driver of all new digital technology. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor, much of the growth in the domestic and global economy will come from STEM-related jobs – a highly lucrative and competitive field. It is estimated by 2020 there will be 2.4 million unfilled STEM jobs with more than half made up of computer and coding careers, underscoring the importance of providing the youth the tools and skills necessary to compete in this innovation economy.

The urgency for more computer science employees is accentuated by the low percentage of females who are currently employed at major technology firms (29 percent) and women pursuing bachelors’ degrees for computer science, just 18 percent.

“We realized the need for a girl coding education program in the region when it became evident that our tactic of introducing girls to computer science professionals and careers in STEM was not having the desired success in capturing their attention and that we needed to do something innovative to engage local girls,” said WNY STEM Hub President, Michelle Kavanaugh. “It is undeniable that there is an increasing need for more woman in the robust coding sector and programs like this one, which are common in major tech hubs around the nation.

 Innovative ways are needed to encourage girls to follow this career path and we are thankful for all the organizations that have collaborated to make it a reality.”AT&T’s support for this program is part of the company’s legacy of supporting educational programs focused on STEM disciplines in New York through AT&T Aspire, the company’s signature $350 million philanthropic initiative that drives innovation in education by bringing diverse resources to bear on the issue

including funding, technology, employee volunteerism and mentoring. Aspire is one of the nation’s largest corporate commitments focused on school success and workforce readiness by creating new learning environments and educational delivery systems to help students succeed and prepare them to take on 21st century careers.

“AT&T is proud to collaborate with these dynamic organizations to develop and support this innovative experience for girls as it further enhances our commitment to providing resources for STEM-related educational programming throughout Western New York and builds upon our vigorous efforts to bridge the gender gap in the technology industry,” said Marissa Shorenstein, New York president, AT&T. “Our economy continues to transform at a robust pace – requiring a workforce with a focus on technological education and literacy – and computer science programs like this one are vital to ensure that the students of today, despite gender, are equipped to compete in the global innovation economy of tomorrow.”

 The Girl Scouts of USA report, Generation STEM, highlighted the fact that girls in urban settings often lack the family and community support systems to help them succeed in nontraditional female fields, such as computer science, and pointed out that girls are highly motivated to make a difference in their world. “A critical element in our programming is to provide girls with viable platforms to explore and take the lead in STEM career fields,” said Judith Cranston, CEO of Girl Scouts of Western New York. “Collaboration is the key to help level the playing field for girls to thrive in STEM professions and we are proud to partner with WNY STEM, AT&T, Buffalo State, and others on the Girls Coding Program.”

SUNY Buffalo State is a regional leader introducing computer science to more students. For the past four years, its CIS Department has offered free summer workshops for local math and science teachers through the CS4HS (Computer Science for High School) program, encouraging the teachers to incorporate computational concepts into the classroom in fun and relevant ways. And CIS annually hosts a showcase where middle and high school students participate in a campus computer technology competition where they receive feedback from

faculty and undergraduate students. Most recently, a newly formed Women in Computing Club offered the “Hour of Code for Girls,” part of a national initiative sponsored by the nonprofit Girls came to campus last December from high schools throughout Western New York for an evening of projects ranging from web design to java script.

“I am proud of the innovative ways our faculty reaches out to middle and high school teachers and their students to ensure that young people know about the many opportunities available to them in the STEM fields.

We are excited to build upon our extensive STEM outreach through this initiative,” said Buffalo State President Katherine Conway-Turner. “As a former Girl Scout, I am thrilled to partner with an organization known for encouraging future female leaders. Together, we have the chance to offer a cutting-edge program for girls in our community which promises to seed a new generation of creative leaders within computer science.”

A number of additional community resources and organizations will be engaged by the WNY STEM Hub to enhance the program. Computers For Children will assist with delivery of coding instruction and provide repurposed computers. Women coders from Girl Develop It, Buffalo Chapter, and local firms will serve as role models and supplemental instructors. Retired Teachers group of the Science Teachers Association will provide mentors and community organizations and schools will provide project challenges from which the girls can choose.



About WNY STEM Hub

The WNY STEM Hub is a volunteer-driven incorporated organization with more than 600 individual members representing more than 250 organizations in Western New York. It is an initiative of the United Way of Buffalo & Erie County and is affiliated with the national STEM network and the Empire State STEM Learning Network. Its aim is to create awareness and partnerships that serve learners of all ages in accessing STEM/STEAM learning and careers. Further information can be found at:

About Philanthropy & Social Innovation at AT&T.

AT&T Inc. is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities and improving lives. Through its community initiatives, AT&T has a long history of investing in projects that create learning opportunities; promote academic and economic achievement; or address community needs. AT&T Aspire is AT&T’s signature philanthropic initiative that drives innovation in education by bringing diverse resources to bear on the issue including funding, technology, employee volunteerism, and mentoring. Through Aspire, we’ve passed the $250 million mark on our plan to invest $350 million in education from 2008-2017.

 About Girl Scouts of Western New York

Girl Scouts of Western New York (GSWNY) serves nearly 15,500 girls and 7,000 adult volunteers across the GSWNY jurisdiction, including Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming counties. The council’s administrative service centers are located in Batavia, Buffalo, Jamestown, Lockport, Niagara Falls, and Rochester. Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. Through the Girl Scout Leadership Experience, girls discover their personal best and prepare for a positive future, connect with others in an increasingly diverse world and take action to solve problems and improve their communities.

 About SUNY Buffalo State

Buffalo State, a State University of New York (SUNY) campus located in Buffalo’s Elmwood Village, offers degrees in the arts, education, the sciences, and professional studies. Each year, more than 10,000 students choose Buffalo State for its broad array of high-quality and distinctive academic programs, diverse and creative environment, hands-on learning opportunities, affordable SUNY tuition, and location in the heart of Buffalo’s cultural corridor.

ECC MEN OF MERIT: Members of Erie Community College’s Men of Merit Program—established to foster excellence, distinction and integrity in the school’s male African-American, Hispanic and Native American students—recently wrapped up another successful semester with an end-of-year luncheon, awards and a keynote address from the Honorable Craig D. Hannah, Buffalo City Court Judge of the 8th Judicial District, at ECC’s City Campus on May 4.  Judge Hannah (pictured above with ECC trustee John Elmore and program leader Natalie Brooks) addressed the afternoon session, which included Men of Merit members receiving awards, certificates of achievement and tokens of appreciation before breaking for the semester. Members were also joined by ECC President Jack Quinn, as well as college’s Senior Vice President, Michael Pietkiewicz and Executive Vice President of Student Affairs, Benjamin Packer. For more information on ECC’s Men of Merit Program, call (716) 851-1122.

ECC MEN OF MERIT: Members of Erie Community College’s Men of Merit Program—established to foster excellence, distinction and integrity in the school’s male African-American, Hispanic and Native American students—recently wrapped up another successful semester with an end-of-year luncheon, awards and a keynote address from the Honorable Craig D. Hannah, Buffalo City Court Judge of the 8th Judicial District, at ECC’s City Campus on May 4.  Judge Hannah (pictured above with ECC trustee John Elmore and program leader Natalie Brooks) addressed the afternoon session, which included Men of Merit members receiving awards, certificates of achievement and tokens of appreciation before breaking for the semester. Members were also joined by ECC President Jack Quinn, as well as college’s Senior Vice President, Michael Pietkiewicz and Executive Vice President of Student Affairs, Benjamin Packer. For more information on ECC’s Men of Merit Program, call (716) 851-1122.

Buffalo Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash to Keynote Stop The Violence Awards Banquet

Buffalo Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash will deliver the keynote address at the 5th Annual Stop The Violence Coalition, Inc. Awards Banquet on Friday, May 20 from 5:30-10:30p.m. at The Acqua Restaurant, located at 2192 Niagara St. 

This year’s theme “Stand Up and Speak Out…the March Continues” speaks to those who have continued to stay focused in the mission of peace and bettering the community in spite of adversity and struggles.  The following awards will be presented to those individuals who have successfully continued in their mission to leave a positive legacy for our community:

Clergy Services Award, Pastor Garney Davis; Business Services Award, Darrell Saxon – Thomas Edwards Funeral Home, Thomas Childs of Destiny’s Pizza and Tim Hall, The ink Spot; 

Criminal Justice Services Award, Attorney General William Hochul and Judge Craig Hannah; Youth Services Award, Danielle Roberts, YMCA and Pastor Bob Kuebler, Youth With A Purpose; Community Service Award, Marnetta Malcolm and Buffalo Fire Department Commissioner Garnell Whitfield Jr.; Peacemaker’s Award, Buffalo Police Department Commissioner Dan Darenda and Officer Harold Walker; and the Stop The Violence Honorary Award, Paul Hogan – Oishei Foundation. 

 In addition to a keynote address by Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Cash, the event will also include a silent auction, raffles, dinner and dancing. Donations for tickets are $50 per person and $350 per table of 8. Gold, silver and bronze sponsorships are also available.  Carlanda Wilson - Banquet Co-Chair

 The Coalition has earned a well-deserved reputation as the “Peacemakers of Buffalo” since its founding in July 2004.



COMMUNITY CANDIDATES: (L-R) Harris-Tigg, Belton-Cottman, McIntyre, Elliott, Woods.

COMMUNITY CANDIDATES: (L-R) Harris-Tigg, Belton-Cottman, McIntyre, Elliott, Woods.

We asked the above community School Board candidates several questions, among them,  what they saw as the number one issue facing our schools.

We hope that their answers, coupled with what you may already know about them, will help you in your choice on election day, Tuesday May 3. We found them to be strong knowledgeable and conscientious. And when you remove the politics and camps and outside supporters with their hidden agendas –even though they may not always agree on the method or path –  these candidates appear to be on the same page when it comes to working in the best interest of the children.     On   Tuesday May 3,  please go to the polls if you genuinely care about your children, and vote for the community candidate of your choice. You hold the power. See you at the polls!

What Do You See As The Number One Issue Facing The Schools District Today?

•THERESA HARRIS-TIGG (Running for re-election in the East District): The number one issue facing the school district today is the inability to provide a high quality education and learning opportunities for ALL our students every day in every school.

•PATRICIA ELLIOTT (Write-In Candidate for the East District Seat): Children being forced to stay in these Burning Buildings (failing schools) when the law says that they have the right to transfer to a school in good standing.  My daughter was in a failing school and I fought to move her into a school in good standing. (Mrs. Elliott also cited wrongful suspensions and the need for a more diverse teaching staff).

•PAULETTE WOODS (Candidate for Central District):  The number one issue facing the School district today is the high dropout rate, followed by the high suspension rate which results in only 61% of Buffalo School children graduating.  Three out of four African American and Hispanic male fail to complete high school. We must increase the graduation rate and break this school to prison pipeline for our youth. 

•BRYON MCINTYRE (Running for the Central District Set): Disparity of treatment and deliverance of services to children.

•SHARON BELTON-COTTMAN (Running for re-election unopposed in the Ferry District). Ms. Belton-Cottman has consistently spoken out on issues and been vocal about inequality, lack of diversity in teaching staff and the need to improve academic achievement. She is on the ballot but missed the deadline to participate in the questionnaire.)

What is your position on Common Core & standardized testing? Making AfricanInfusion studies mandatory in the curriculum?

•THERESA HARRIS-TIGG: The standards are not developmentally accurate for each grade level and is embedded in bias.  Standardized testing ignores/discounts contextual factors that relate to the children and their opportunity for success on the test and perpetuates labeling children, teachers, and schools unfairly.    African/African-American studies is essential learning for all people.  To expunge African/African American studies from our curriculum is a detriment to all people and especially for Africa/African American children where it attacks intrinsic motivation and hope.  

•PATRICIA ELLIOTT: My own personal opinion is that I feel Common Core is in the best interest of all our children. They need to be challenged so that they can strengthen what is weak and ultimately they will reach their fullest potential.  As for the state testing, I cannot say what a parent should do for their children. That is for them to decide,

 I feel African studies should be mandatory and implemented exactly the way it was designed!  It should be infused it into Everything and into every subject!  We should use African examples because we have mostly African children in this district.

•PAULETTE WOODS: I feel tests are necessary to measure student achievement and to evaluate teacher performance. But as stated by Dr. Barbara Nevergold:  “new tests need to be developed, the current test does not measure the diverse abilities of the test takers, nor provide constructive educational data benefiting students.” My position is that African Infusion studies now called African American history studies should be mandatory in the curriculum.  It is important that all students know of the contributions of African Americans in the building this great nation. 

•BRYON MCINTYRE: It should be a universal standard to bring all up to a higher standard. Common Core training was in place but not mandated and truly became an issue when it was tied to evaluations. Standardized Testing / Opt out - is a union driven movement that only suburban communities engage (West Senaca led the state but other communities didn’t have more than 20% opt out ). Children will be tested through their entire life. It’s no more testing being done, it’s just a louder call for accountability. These issues are adult driven. African Infusion has already been sanctioned in Buffalo Public Schools. It needs to be implemented and should be.

Why Should The People Vote For You

•THERESA HARRIS-TIGG : Residents should vote for me because I am clear about my intentions and the essential work of a board member: to fight for high quality teaching, learning, and opportunities for ALL our students.  Some examples of my first term critical board work include: excellent attendance and preparedness at board and committee meetings; consistent school visits in the East district and other schools providing support and leadership as a professional educator; chairing Student Achievement meetings with district administrators; responsive and timely attention to parent concerns, emails and telephone calls; attended national school board association conferences/workshops and caucus meetings to increase my agency in working with budgets, maintenance, operations, and legal matters as well as advocacy; chaired many charter school public hearings.

•PATRICIA ELLIOTT:I have been an active parent since 1994 when my daughter was in the 3rd grade. With my next set of children I was a Head Start parent, Policy Council representative.  I was a homeroom parent, member of the PTA. (Served as) DPCC Treasurer, Health Committee Chairperson I advocated for the requested that the Board to Fund the Youth Risk Behavior Survey for kids to say what it is that they do to put them at risk Parents are not going to be able to make the difference if the people on the board don’t know what parents are going through.  They are having discussions and making decisions and are not in the seat of a parent! As a Board Member I will be there and I will make sure they know how they are making decisions and how it impacts parents because I am one! A parent on the board is the ONLY way this can be done.  

•PAULETTE WOODS: Vote for Paulette Woods for the Buffalo Board of Education Central School District representative, because I have dedicated my life to children.  I have tutored my11 younger brothers and sisters through high school, college, and graduate school.   My 32 years working for Erie County has been devoted to creating and funding Youth Development/ Delinquency Prevention Programs in the Erie County Youth Services department, and breaking the school to prison pipeline for our youth through Detention and Probation diversion programs. I have a long history of working with community leaders such as Apostle Robert Sanders Sr.  in creating programs like the “Citadel of Hope” to redirect children’s lives from brokenness and the criminal justice system.I have experience in managing a 1.5 billion dollar county budget, therefore I can find cost saving in the Buffalo School Budget; which I will redirect toward arts, music, and sports so we teach to the whole child.    I can be instrumental in helping make Buffalo Public Schools successful; providing a world class education for our students.

•BRYON MCINTYRE:  I’ve been actively involved in EducationalJustice on the front line for over 15 years. I have run for office 5 times and have remained very active no matter what. I have served as 1st Vice of DPCC, member of Special Education Parent Advisory Committee 12 years, Chairperson, member of the Tittle One Committee 4 years, PTO president at my children’s school presently Hutch Tech,  and on the Sight Base Management Team ( SBMT ) at all my children’s schools.  I have been actively involved with children in Buffalo Public Schools for the last 20 years. Working with State Education Department Regents Collins and former Regents Bennett on bringing new policies to the 8 surrounding Counties on new and best practices for Special Education.     I’ve been true to my God, true to my Family and true to my community. I didn’t just show up, that’s why the citizens should vote for me!

New Bennett High School Computer Academy Of Technological Sciences

The Bennett Alumni Association is pleased to announce that there will be an opportunity for 125 incoming 9th grade students in September 2016 to enroll in the “Computing Academy of Technological Sciences” at Bennett High School.

This new program will provide a high tech computer science and software engineering program that prepares students to enter post secondary majors and careers. 

The areas of study include, Software, Engineering, Networking, Animation, Gaming, Coding, Mobile Application Design, Digital Design, Computer Hardware, Web Design, Information Systems, Programing and more. Students who enroll are accepted to the program and will have the opportunity to earn college credits, industry certification, take advanced placement courses and acquire Real World Experiences. Partners include University @ Buffalo, Buffalo State College and Say Yes. All enrolled students will receive their own laptop/tablet.

There are opportunities for all students including students with disabilities and English language learners. Applicants are asked to apply to this program by completing an application at the Buffalo Pubic Schools Placement Office, School 12, 33 Ash Street (816-3717) or going online to and complete the high school application form. Any questions regarding the program can be directed to Middle Early College High School @ Bennett, 816 4010 and ask for the Assistant Principal for the Computer Academy of Technological Sciences. 

Say YES Scholarship Applications Available

Say YES Buffalo’s 2016 scholarship application for Buffalo public and charter school seniors is now available at www.sayyesbuffaloorg/apply. The application deadline is May 1. Students will receive a scholarship to cover up to 100 percent of the cost of tuition after federal, state and institutional aid has been applied. The criteria for eligible students includes: students must live in the City of Buffalo and continuously enroll in a Buffalo public or charter high school from at least ninth through 12th grades, or fall into certain homeless, foster care, refugee or noncitizen categories.    

HOPE Technology & Literacy Institute Now Accepting Students

HOPE Technology & Literacy Institute, 250 Dr. Samuel McCree Way, is now accepting students for community classes in Literacy 101 and English as a Second Language. Other classes are running for 8 sessions April 6 – May 25 from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday Evenings. An informational session will be held on Wednesday, March 30 from 6:30-8 p.m. Call (585) 743-5596 for more information.

Buffalo Parents Calls For State Education Commissioner To Halt Removal Of Any Buffalo Public School Out Of Receivership

Parents of Buffalo Public Schools students who successfully filed a civil rights complaint against the school district in 2013 has requested that NYS Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia halt or rescind the removal of any Buffalo Public School out of receivership. Patricia A. Elliott and Desiree J. Radford, two of the parents who filed the original complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, cite the failure of the district to cure the outstanding civil rights violations and the possibility the removing the low performing schools, and the additional educational resources that flow from receivership status, would further complicate crafting a remedial plan to bring the district into compliance with federal civil rights law.

School Board Candidates Face Off in Public Forum

Candidates for the Buffalo Board of Education’s six district seats will debate the issues and answer questions from journalists and residents in a public forum from 7 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, April 12, in the Burchfield Penney Art Center, 1300 Elmwood Ave.

In advance of what could be a pivotal election that determines control of the board and the direction of city schools, candidates will answer questions posed by journalists, submitted by audience members and submitted via the Internet at 

Candidates in the Central and East districts will face off at 7 p.m.; candidates in the Ferry and North districts will debate at 8 p.m.; and those running in the Park and West districts will debate at 9p.m. The forum also will be recorded for broadcast on public access TV in advance of the May 3 election.

The free event is sponsored by the Buffalo Association of Black Journalists, the Burchfield Penney Art Center and the SUNY Buffalo State Communications Department.

Central District School Candidate Woods files over 1,400 Signatures for the May 3rd School Board Election

Paulette Woods (4th from left) with supporters.

Paulette Woods (4th from left) with supporters.

Central District candidate Paulette Woods’ school board got off to an impressive start as she filed over 1,400 signatures (almost three timesthe 500 needed) to qualify to run in the May 3rd school board election.

“ I am so grateful to the vast number of volunteers who went door to door, apartments to apartments to secure the signatures of voters who decided to give me the opportunity to represent them on the board of education,” stated Ms. Woods. “The district I am campaigning for encompasses the most diverse and challenging groups of Buffalo school students. From Eastside residents who live in and around the historic Fruit belt neighborhoods that includes the Buffalo/Niagara Medical Campus to the ‘heart’ of the community ( Jefferson Ave, Town Gardens andthe Cold Spring area), to the rapidly expanding west side population, where thousands of immigrant and former suburban students are joining our school district yearly. The Central District is in a unique positionto unite all of these different yet similar students and their parents into a cohesive, interactive group that will focus on the very best education possible for our students.”

Woods’ campaign meets every Saturday @ 10 A.M. and every Tuesday @ 6 P.M.. To volunteer, please call Paulette Woods @ (716) 986-1025 or the campaign committee@ (716) 602-5877.