Says Education Reform Advocate Sam Radford
Sam Radford, activist, organizer and president of the District Parent Coordinating Council (DPCC) is urging the community to come out and vote next Tuesday, May 7 in the School Board Election.
Why should the Black and Brown communities in particular go to the polls?
“First of all the majority of the children (in public schools) are our children (45% Black, 21% Hispanic). And when it’s all said and done we don’t want other people making decisions about our children without us having input.”
“Secondly, right now historically things are going better in Buffalo Public Schools than they ever have,” he continued pointing to the increased graduation rate and high level of community and parent engagement. However he warned that “whether people accept it or not, Buffalo is being gentrified – and if we don’t pay attention we will look up and other people will come in and get all the benefits for the work we’ve done to make it better. We have to make sure we keep our seat at the table. We have a real good opportunity (in this election) to maintain a majority minority on the board – but we’ve got to come out and vote!”
“It’s probably one of the most important elections because we’ve got a superintendent and a school board working in the right direction. This is when people who don’t want to see us do well, pounce…this is what you see with Donald Trump. People don’t realize that Western New York is Trump territory…he won in every area in WNY except Buffalo (along with Sheriff Tim Howard). Most of the teachers who work in our system are Trump supporters,” he charged. “So we can’t pretend like we’re somewhere we ain’t. People have got to vote in this election so that we don’t move backwards!”
Low voter turnout during school board elections in the city is chronic, he said. On any given election day the voter turnout is between only 3% and 10%.
“So 3-10% of the people next week will be voting to elect representatives who will control a $1 billion school budget,” he noted.
That, he said, has to change. There is currently a movement to hold school board elections on the same day as the Primary elections to increase participation. School board elections in Rochester, for example, will be held on June 25th, Primary Election Day.
He urged voters to cast their ballot for the candidate of their choice – even if that candidate is running unopposed, in order to show support and guarantee their win.