The Buffalo (New York) Board of Education election for three at-large members is fast approaching. In fact, it's tomorrow, May 6th! And this election will determine the future of the public school system in Buffalo as we have known it. If the Carl Paladino slate of Larry Quinn and Patti Pierce, with the tag-along of BernieTolbert are elected, we will see a dismantling of the school district through privatizing of the district with the creation of new charter schools; outsourcing of students to BOCES and parochial/private schools; a vacuum of leadership as the current Superintendent is discharged in favor of another supposed distinguished educator; and the creation of a Board that is focused on creating opportunities for development and other businesses rather than opportunities for student growth and learning. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Does race matter in this race??? The Buffalo News acknowledged that it does. But in the same paragraph of its editorial endorsing three white candidates, two of whom have no experience or documented history of interest or contribution to public school education or an urban community, the News stated that race was an issue. Furthermore, they knew that their support for these three would contribute to the racial divide on the Board and in the District. Others have taken the News to task for this deliberate support of a racial/racist agenda. Yet a major question still remains that should be asked of the News. Were there no African American or Hispanic candidates out of the 8 running that they could support? And if not, why not? An examination of the credentials of these candidates would reveal that some of us possessed not only the experience but a record of contribution and achievement, not just in the minority communities we are members of but in the community at large.
So, what message has the News sent not only to the citizens of Buffalo, New York State and the nation for that matter, but most importantly to our children? It's the age old message that if you're a person of color you can never measure up to White people, regardless of your credentials! The News is not alone in sending that message. They are joined by the business community spearheaded by the Niagara Partnership; by the charter school advocates including Michelle Rhee’s Students First and Buffalo’s ReformEd; and by others who contribute to the polarization of this community.
Will the African American and Latino communities accept this attempt to take over our school district by moneyed and racist proponents of school privatization and the dismissal of a competent minority majority? Stay tuned, May 7th!