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Common Council leader says school board has ‘very little’ discussion of education issues

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The leader of the Buffalo Common Council is weighing in on the education crisis in the city. In this Focus on Education report, WBFO's Eileen Buckley talked with the Council president and True Bethel pastor Rev. Darius Pridgen.  Pridgen, who once served as a member of the Buffalo Board of Education, offers his thoughts on the city district.

"I spent a lot of years. I've been very involved in education issues since being Common Council president and as a pastor," said Pridgen.

Pridgen answered education questions following the end of a recent Common Council session at City Hall. He tells WBFO News now is the time to review every possibility in an effort to turn around failing city schools and refresh education for Buffalo's public school children.

"I think closing the door on the possibilities is not responsibility. If there is a model that better fits Buffalo, than let's explore it," responded Pridgen.

One thing the council is legally reviewing is a possible lawsuit against the Buffalo School District and the State Education Department. Some lawmakers believe a lawsuit could claim that the higher number of failing city schools is in breach of state and federal law which denies each student a "sound basic education." Pridgen says a legal suit could be affecting.        

"Lawsuits in the past have changed education. When you look at Brown vs. Board of Education, that was a lawsuit. When you look at the desegregation cases here in Buffalo, [that was a] lawsuit. It sometimes helps to straighten out things," said Pridgen.

When it comes to ongoing in-fighting within the school board and school leadership, Pridgen remembers witnessing much of the same during his stint on the board.

"I know the frustrations of being on the Board of Education," said Pridgen. "The system we have right now does not bode well for children. There is very little conversation discussion about education at the Board of Education meetings."

Pridgen said the present system doesn't work. While he says he believes in the election of board members, he says he would like to see different decision makers at the board table to deal strictly with education issues and how that will affect students in the classroom.     

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