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The help from Albany that never arrived in 2011

Back in September, Regent Bob Bennett said the state would be sending help to Buffalo in the form of a "distinguished educator" -- a veteran educator to act as an adviser to the superintendent and sit as a nonvoting member of the School Board.

(Buffalo was one of about 10 districts in the state in line for such assistance, Bennett said.)

Here's a snippet of what I wrote at the time:

Bob Bennett“It’s a helper who will work with the superintendent, plain and simple. I think it’s an extra asset for Amber [Dixon] to use wisely,” said Regent Robert M. Bennett. “It’s not imminent, but I would hope by the end of the year.”

The state education commissioner has the authority to appoint a distinguished educator — someone with a track record of turning around struggling schools or working with low-performing districts— in any district that has not made “adequate yearly progress” for four years in a row.

Then, in October, King and Bennett both said a distinguished educator would be appointed by the end of the year. A primary objective, they said, was for that person to help the district put together school improvement plans that the state could approve:

King plans to appoint a "distinguished educator" to Buffalo in the next few weeks, in part to help the district put together turnaround plans. Time, though, is running short. Less than 2 1/2 months remain for administrators to craft successful plans.

Well, guess what?

2011 came and went. The district submitted improvement plans for seven low-performing schools.

And the commissioner still has not appointed a distinguished educator here.

When I asked King about it a few days ago, he declined to comment.

When I asked Bennett about it, he said he expected an appointment to be made soon.

It's interesting to note how tight-lipped State Ed is being about the entire process. SED advertised for applicants in the spring, with a mid-May 2011 deadline. State officials are supposed to post online a list of successful candidates. Back in September, an SED spokesman told me, "We are still in the process of finalizing the initial pool."

Well, four months later, that list still hasn't been posted.

- Mary Pasciak

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About School Zone

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee

Denise Jewell Gee joined The Buffalo News in 2007 and currently covers education and suburban schools. She also writes a column for the City & Region section and previously covered government in Erie County and Niagara Falls. Gee graduated from Boston University with degrees in journalism and political science.

@denisejewellgee |

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes

Tiffany Lankes joined The Buffalo News in 2013 and primarily covers the Buffalo Public Schools. She has written about education since 2003 at newspapers in Florida and New York. In 2008, she was a nominated finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Lankes is an Amherst native and graduate of Sacred Heart Academy and Syracuse University. She started her journalism career writing for the News’ NeXt section.

@TiffanyLankes |

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan

Sandra Tan has been a cityside reporter for The Buffalo News since 2000 and currently covers the Buffalo Public Schools beat. She previously covered the Williamsville school district and was a full-time education reporter for five years prior to joining The News. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

@BNschoolzone |

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams

Deidre Williams began working for The Buffalo News in 1999 and currently covers Buffalo Public Schools. She formerly was a suburban reporter on the Northtowns beat and has been a cityside reporter covering communities since 2004. Williams has a mass communications degree from Towson University.

@DeidreWilliamsB |