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Protesters push back against charter schools

Mike Desmond/wbfo news

Supporters of public schools protested outside the Buffalo school board meeting room Wednesday.

Groups like Citizen Action and the Alliance for Quality Education have long been fighting against tests used to determine if teachers and schools are effective and are fighting the push by members of the current school board for more charter schools and potentially conversion of some public schools into charters.

They rallied outside the board room, with a series of public officials defending city schools while administrators and board members like Carl Paladino passed by.

Activist Beverly Newkirk says community schools are a better solution than charters. She listed the benefits:
"High quality teaching, not high-stakes testing, wraparound support, after school program, counselors, social service, health care, positive discipline, practices such as restorative practices, shared information, parent and community engagement," Newkirk said.

"There needs to be on-going community engagement in order to have sustainable improvement."

Newly-elected State Senator Marc Panepinto says the fight isn't over better schools but over money going to private groups trying to shift dollars from regular public schools. He supports more money going into troubled schools like Lafayette and Bennett to turn them around.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.