To say that Buffalo's East and Lafayette High School Districts are in peril is a bit of a euphemism: a more lucid depiction of immediate reform and action or instantaneous demise is more accurate.
With the new school year just past imminent, these school districts are facing dire failure rates, as reported by BuffaloRising.org. The two schools have posted in excess of a mind-boggling twenty per cent (20%) decline in graduation rates over the past four years, in addition to college-prepared students at only two (2) per cent.
Buffalo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Pamela Brown was pressured to develop a plan to promote educational renaissance within these school districts. In a letter from John B. King Jr., Commissioner of the New York State Department of Education, the plan he wished to see and implications if his ideas were not readily implemented were as follows:
"Dear Dr. Brown:
State Education Department (SED or “the Department”) staff has completed the
review of your August 12, 2013 submission of School Under Registration Review
(SURR) plans for East High School and Lafayette High School. As required by my July
10, 2013 directive, Buffalo Public Schools (BPS) submitted school level plans; a
description of district supports for these plans; BPS’s contract with Johns Hopkins
University Talent Development Secondary (JHU) to serve as an Educational
Partnership Organization (EPO) for East and Lafayette High Schools; and BPS’s
memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Erie 1 Board of Cooperative
Educational Services (BOCES) to provide Career and Technical Education (CTE) to
students at East and Lafayette High Schools.
The submitted SURR plans and the related contract and MOU require revision.
In order for me to approve BPS’s contract with JHU pursuant to Education Law §211-e,
BPS’s MOU with Erie 1 BOCES, and BPS’s SURR plans, BPS must address all of the
issues listed in the attached chart. The SURR plans, contract and MOU revisions
described in the attached chart must be addressed and/or corrected exactly as
described therein. BPS must resubmit the revised SURR plans and the revised signed
contract and MOU to me no later than 5:00 p.m. on August 23, 2013.
In addition, staff has also reviewed the EPO contracts submitted for School 80
and Buffalo Elementary School of Technology (BEST), which also require revision. In
order for me to approve BPS’s contracts with the Westminster Foundation and
Research to Practice pursuant to Education Law §211-e (which serve as the basis for
the approved School Improvement Grant plans for those schools), BPS must also
address all of the issues related to those schools and contracts listed in the attached
chart. Such revisions must be made in the manner and according to the timeline
Since my July 10, 2013 directive, SED staff has provided extensive guidance and
technical assistance to BPS in order to ensure that you were able to meet the August
12, 2013 submission deadline. As you know, I am acutely aware of the urgent need to
ensure that students at East and Lafayette High Schools be made to wait no longer to
receive an education that readies them for college and careers. Accordingly, SED will
continue to provide guidance and technical assistance to BPS as the district dedicates
its staff and resources to accomplishing this task. I have directed Deputy Commissioner
Ken Slentz to arrange a date and time during the week of August 19, 2013 when BPS
representatives can come to Albany to complete their submission with on-site guidance
and technical assistance from SED. Please note: as part of this technical assistance,
SED and BPS will discuss and finalize the appropriate metrics for plan progress
As I stated in my July 10, 2013 directive, if the above plans are not successfully
implemented and/or academic results at East and Lafayette High Schools do not
improve, I will consider requiring BPS to enroll all East and Lafayette students in
schools in Good Standing, and/or recommending to the Board of Regents that the
registration of these schools be revoked. For BEST and School 80, failure to address
these issues may result in the suspension, termination, or nonrenewal of the schools’
School Improvement Grants.
Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact Ira
Schwartz, Assistant Commissioner for Accountability at email@example.com .
John B. King, Jr.
Many students have requested transfer out of these school districts, as Dr. Brown seems either unable or apathetic to the salient nature of improvements to the educational regiment within Lafayette and East High Schools. Many have addressed the innate causes of failure within these school districts, and excessive poverty and lack of communication between families and administration seem to have emerged as two leading concerns among parents in the districts, according to reports published by WKBW.com.
How does one city eradicate the results of poverty and hoplessness within its school districts?The answers remain to be seen.