Low-Income Students Told To Take A“2nd Seat”

Dr. Catherine Collins and the NY State Board of Regents’ Recent Decision Will Harm Hundreds of Black children

In a recent meeting the NY Board of Regents (BOR) voted to deny the renewal of Buffalo Academy of Science Charter School (BuffSci) even though it was recommended to them by the state to approve the renewal. BuffSci serves a population of 65% Black children, over 80% minority children and 90% low-income children, and is still the highest performing charter school in all of Western and Central NY. The school boasts a graduation rate of 95% in a district whose graduation rate is 65%.

Denying the Buff Sci renewal will displace hundreds of low-income students to lower-performing schools. Buffalo’s school district has been steadily improving under the leadership of Dr. Kriner Cash and the School Board, but it has a long way to go to come anywhere near the student achievement of Buff Sci.

During the Regents deliberations. 6th Judicial District BOR member Susan Mittler said:  “In another year, without a pandemic or whatever, you can convince me but right now I really believe the Buffalo Public Schools need our support as a primary issue and that the charter schools need to take a second seat.” A second seat? That is what a BOR member is saying to the hundreds of minority families that have their children in BuffSci? That is hurtful to the families and to our community.

Listen, I get it. Some people do not like charter schools. They believe that low-income families should not have high-quality educational options or they are carrying the Teacher Union’s water, or whatever their personal dislike of charter schools stems from. But to essentially vote to close the highest performing charter school in the entire region is terrible. If a charter school is not performing well or if there is mismanagement of funds or some serious offense, than yes of course it should be closed. But an incredibly high performing school that serves nearly 90% low income families is something we should be trying to support and model.

Contributing Commentary Columnist Duncan Kirkwood

These low-income students deserve a great education; it is the only way to break generational poverty. I know Regent Dr. Catherine Collins to be a good person, and dedicated life long educator. I do not believe she would ever intentionally hurt any child, but this decision will definitely hurt children. Especially minority children!

We as community members are asking the members of the Board of Regents to reconsider your vote!