Here's a question for New York State Legislators -- Are you smarter than a fifth-grader? The answer for many is apparently, no.
Out there for the taking is as much as $700 million for state schools via a federal "Race to the Top" grant and the someone legislators are getting stuck on a provision that would make us more competitive against their states and that is the creation of 400 charter schools.
Gov. Paterson has a firm grasp on this state's looming budget crisis and, wisely, sees this grant money as potentially filling a huge need in the neediest of schools. Sure, the state could still compete for funding without the charter provision but President Obama's administration has made clear its preference. And so has this page in an earlier editorial.
New York is facing a deficit that could exceed $7.5 billion, as outlined in a News article by bureau chief Tom Precious. Paterson is trying his best to mitigate the situation but with little help from a State Legislature that saw fit to turn back the governor's request over the weekend and introduce an alternative charter school plan to be included in an application the state must submit by ... today!
Cobbling together an "alternative" plan not in keeping with the path to more charters is clearly not the answer the feds are looking for when deciding on where to send hundreds of millions in grant money. All the while, the state is bracing for the governor's proposed cuts in education, health care and a host of other programs.
The Legislature might want to consider well before cooking up any "alternate" plans. When it comes to Race to the Top funding, perhaps the governor said it best: "We need the resources."
Speaking of resources, News business reporter Samantha Maziarz Christmann's piece on efforts by a local preservation group to get the Statler Towers put on the list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places compiled by the National Trust for Historic Preservation is about an idea worth supporting.
As we said in an earlier editorial, the Niagara Square landmark could use a dose of good fortune. The Statler represents a part of Buffalo's past and hopes for the future. By shining a national spotlight, even simply through the application process, on this important and long-neglected structure perhaps something can finally get done.
This page supported New Buffalo Statler Redevelopment's efforts but the group unfortunately failed to meet a deadline to come up with the funding it needed to complete its $1.3 million purchase. This group, along with any other viable entity, should be encouraged to keep trying to save this important piece of Buffalo history.
Dawn Marie Bracely/Editorial Writer