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Youth Alliance reviews a school year that was

Youth Alliance for Education

After living through the nightmare of this COVID-19 school year, some local students want big changes in the way schools are run.

A group of students finished up a year of working with the University at Buffalo Graduate School of Education Wednesday evening, through the Youth Alliance for Education. The students are from across Erie County, bringing different perspectives to a changing student demographic.

During YEA's final session of the year Wednesday evening, the times the students have been living through these last 15 months brought a lot of discussion about racism and potentially giving students a voice in hiring for school positions.

Performing Arts student Leila Shuford-Clarke said curriculum elements have to reflect society.                   

"Assessment of the current CDs to increase effectiveness," she said. "Again, we heard they put it in some CDs in Western New York, but we need to be a bit more effective and also we want districts to work harder to hire teachers of color and improve curriculum about racism."

The students also want more information in schools about inclusion for LGBTQIA+ issues and  these students to see themselves better reflected.

"The obvious thing is teachers can respect pronouns, preferred names," said Lexie DiCanio from Buffalo's School 67. "Teachers can try to include non-curriculum LGBTQ history or English, like something along those lines."

Lily Fisher said another area studied by the students was mental health, important in the academic year the students are just finishing.

"Mental health has had a big impact on the past year, but we're doing the best we can and we're almost there," Fisher said. "We really feel once things are back to a new normal, we can start to make our schools better, make change happen."

The students also want better communication with teachers, possibly periodic meetings during the school year so they can better understand each other.

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.
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