The Buffalo school board met to decide whether to support the New York's Race to the Top application, which, if approved, would add millions of new federal dollars to the state's second largest city.
Yup; the Buffalo Board of Education's dysfunction was on full display last night, worthy of a Ph.D. dissertation, by its voting against supporting the state's education reform agenda for federal Race to the Top discretionary education funding.
Today's Buffalo News reports that a majority of the school board--at least of those that bothered to show up--refused to support the state Regents education reform agenda for obtaining these competitive federal funds for New York. This is not a huge surprise after yesterday's account of the likely direction of the board and the opposition to the Regents agenda from the Buffalo Teacher's Federation president, Phil Rumore (now entering his 3rd--or 4th[?]--decade as head of the union).
Of the nine-member board, a minimum quorum of five showed up, which means that all five needed to vote in favor. Chris Jacobs and Ralph Hernandez--yes, that Ralph Hernandez--were in support. Half-apologies to Mr. Hernandez from yesterday's Chalkboard; he was at least willing to support reform if the rest of the board went along.
The three mouseketeers on the board voting no were: Vivian Evans, Pamela Perry-Cahill and Mary Ruth Kapsiak. Actually, Ms. Kapsiak refused to vote at all, which counts as a "no," lest she think she can dodge responsibility for this fiasco.
Ms. Perry-Hyphen-Cahill acknowledged abject ignorance of what she was being asked to vote on: "We're signing something before we even know what it is," she said. This pillar of public service should try reading her board material, beginning with the Regents reform plans, which have been posted on-line for several weeks now (e.g., here).
And what of the four board members that did not show up for such a critical meeting? Barring health or family emergency, they should have had their fannies at City Hall to do the right thing by Buffalo's students and teachers, who stand now to lose out on any new federal money for the state.
Dr. Williams Stands Tall - and Loses
As for Superintendent James Williams, he had a bad night, as he could not persuade the board to support the Regents application. "Board, you're are making a big mistake -- a big mistake." Rarely if ever would a chief executive so publicly chastise a board this way, which is his boss. He may as well dust off his resume, not because he would be fired, but out of disgust trying to work for this bunch pretending to govern a major school district.
Is it any wonder the Regents refused to abide the board's request for a charter school moratorium?
One has to wonder how many of these board members opposing the Obama administration's Race to the Top reforms are on the BTF's payroll, figuratively speaking. If they aren't in reality, they should be, since they otherwise sold out the Buffalo school district for dirt cheap.
Buffalo's Loss is Everyone Else's Gain
The upshot of this outcome is not all bad from a parochial standpoint. With all its Title One students, Buffalo will now get nothing from any Race to the Top award to New York, which means the a larger share of the grant will be spread out to all the other school districts and charter schools that signed on in support.
Thanks, Buffalo. Your school board's majority managed to become a bigger laughingstock than before.
for The Chalkboard
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