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New report critical of Buffalo Schools

Chris Caya WBFO News

Buffalo's renaissance may attract new companies and jobs to the area. But employers will likely have a hard time finding local residents to fill those jobs. A new report shows city schools are failing to provide students with some key courses.

The report by the New York Equity Coalition shows that Earth Science is not offered at any of the middle schools in the Buffalo School District. Only two middle schools offer Algebra. And less than a quarter of all city high schools offer Calculus. A majority of the District's student body is Black or Latino but math and science classes are mostly filled with White students. District-Parent Coordinating Council President, Sam Radford says, the report shows schools across New York don't offer people of color or low income students the courses they need at a young age to become a scientist or a doctor.

"In Buffalo Public Schools and in schools in the district there's only two schools that even have the course work [students] need in 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade to be able to be successful and go in to those kinds of professions," Radford said.

CJ Banks, with the Buffalo Urban League, is a parent of five children in the district. Banks says, no matter what community or socioeconomic status people are in, all students should have a right to an education that gets them into college and succeed in life.
"If you're a parent out there and you have a kid in high school or middle school, and your school is not offering those classes, write a letter to your school. Write a letter to your district. Write a letter to state ed. Write a letter to somebody saying, 'I want to know why my kids don't have access?' And they can't give you an answer that would be satisfying because there is no answer. We have to do it. If you need more money, get more money. If you need more teachers, get more teachers. Let's make it happen. Let's get these kids the things that they need to succeed," Banks said.    

The report includes several recommendations to correct the problem. And advocates are calling on state and local leaders to commit to the changes and give all students the high-quality education they deserve.  

In response, Buffalo School Superintendant, Kriner Cash said, “The findings and the commitments outlined in the Within Our Reach report resonate with us. We believe it is within our reach, as well. To continue to level the playing field for our students in all aspects of their education, the New Education Bargain and its essential elements will get us there, if we work together,” Cash said.