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Cash says parents, students accountable in 'education bargain'

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WBFO file photo by Eileen Buckley
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As the Superintendent of Buffalo Public Schools makes major changes in the way the school system operates, he is now asking for changes in the way parents and students deal with school and education.  

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You can listen to the entire remarks made by Buffalo Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash's remarks to DPCC leadership at a recent school board meeting.

When school opened this year, everyone saw the first full year of Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash's Education Bargain, in everything from community schools to five-new specialized high schools. That is all intended to deal with years of problems and the perception that the schools are failing, something many disagree with, despite state test scores.

It is common for teachers and administrators to be blamed for what is going wrong, with many reasons listed for that. However, speaking to the president of the District Parent Coordinating Council, Cash launched into several minutes of preaching accountability for parents and students.

"Parents must put a premium on education, first and foremost, for us to help parents educate and participate in education of their child," Cash said. "Parents must insist and ensure that it is critical that their child go to school. That's a parent accountability."

"Parents have an accountability as does the student in doing his or her homework, studying additional hours beyond the school day to make up the tremendous gap that still exists in their learning in order to be post-secondary qualified," he continued.

Cash said if the child shows up at school, that student has to go to class and parents have to work to make sure they know if their child made it to every class. The superintendent also wants parents to be sure students do their homework.

The following is the full remarks Cash stated on parent accountability:

“Part of the solution that we talk about with the bargain is what the parents’ key accountability is and what the students’ key accountability is. Parents must put a premium on education first and foremost for us to help parents educate and participate in the education of their child. Parents must insist and ensure that it is critical that their child go to school—that’s a parent accountability.

Parents must insist that once in school, their student goes to class. And that they have accountability for asking and checking on that to be sure that that happens. Parents have an accountability, as does the student, in doing his or her homework. Studying additional hours beyond the school day to make up the tremendous gap that still exists in their learning in order to be post-secondary qualified and prepared for the world of work. And then, parents must insist that their child is respectful of adults and of the professionals who are there to try to help them.

When those accountabilities are met, then it becomes clearer, clearer, where teachers might be at fault, where district staff might be at fault, where principals might be at fault, where I and the board have more work to do. When those accountabilities get muddled, or aren’t even emphasized in this bargain, then we really don’t have a bargain, we just have more expectations and more demands on the school system to be the remedy for what are very complex and long-standing challenges.

So, I would like to hear, and it doesn’t have to be tonight, but I would like to hear in subsequent meetings where you are placing emphasis through your governor’s team, and through your work with parents and in your meetings about those four essential, non-negotiable accountabilities. If we can help in any way we will help, but I’m not going to enable or let those accountabilities slip by without having the BPCC or the BPTO or any other group not be right there with me ensuring that they understand clearly that that’s their part in the bargain. Then the schools have what we have to do. But without that handshake, without that part of it, then we just have a one-sided sort of effort here.

So I want to make sure that I continue to make that point to you as you know I have, but I would like you, in more public ways, to show your understanding and that your group understands that that is part of this—not just to say what you want more of, you gotta talk about what you’re gonna do to help us in this education work because it’s a two-way partnership, always has been, always will be. So I appreciate that. And then, not least, not least, I’d like you to also start to put cost to these demands or these requests.

Everything that you have here, while it’s not, you know, anything that we would disagree with, but you gotta understand that everything has a cost to it and if you put that down, then it would be clear that you have an understanding of what that means and that that should be a priority for you and then we’ll have that discussion when we go to Albany to get money together because we want to be part of a uniform platform this year in getting the resources we need to enact this, these requests. So those are some of my comments and, again, appreciate your time," stated Cash. 

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.