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An all-male Buffalo Public School to address differences in learning? It's being considered

WBFO's Mike Desmond

Buffalo Public Schools are considering starting up an all-male school to deal with academic achievement problems.

Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash was clearly surprised the discussions were far enough along to be brought to the board as part of a briefing on culturally and linguistically responsive teaching. That is according to Assistant Superintendent Fatima Morrell, who is working in that much larger field.

She said more black males would benefit academically from more culturally sensitive course work as boys associate differently and learn differently. Morrell cited the state My Brother's Keeper grant that originated in the Obama Administration as the source of this particular push.

"It focuses on males of color," she said. "There was the federal legislation under prior President Obama said here's some money to do some unique and different deals to create innovative programs for males of color, to let's move them up to give them a second chance in life and education."

Cash said this an interesting idea, but also mentioned the idea of male teachers in lower grades. He said boys often are nearly in high school before they have a male teacher.

"Some of our males, as we know, don't even perceive a strong male until 8th, 9th grade," Cash said. "They go 12, 13 years with mostly women (board voice: "No role model."). And that doesn't mean that's a negative thing,  just that it hasn't happened they haven't perceived what they need to be."

There are a lot of issues to be worked out, as consideration of the project goes along. Morell said top administrator Tonja Williams is developing the possible school and studying where all-male schooling works well.

"She's really well-researched around all the things, providing mentors, providing the village concept for them so that they can express their manhood without any fear," Morell said. "It's okay for us to be a man. There are ways that you learn as a boy. The adult needs to sit down for 90 minutes, 45 minutes needs to get up some times and walk around."

Schools acknowledge the achievement gap between young men and young women is quite wide, although boys do better in math.

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.