September 28, 2013 - 11:30 PM
Superintendent Pamela Brown spoke with The Buffalo News Friday morning regarding the reorganization of her central office. Before we ended our interview, she promised two things: that we would be given an updated organizational chart and listing of new hires; and that the chief of her human resources department would speak with us to answer and clarify any outstanding questions.
So we waited. And waited. In the end, we got some of the first, and none of the second.
One thing we did receive, which was extremely helpful, was an updated flow chart for the Buffalo school district's central administration. Given how difficult it can be to figure out who is in charge of what in the city school district, this flow chart -- labeled with names -- is practically a Rosetta Stone key for any parent looking for assistance, and any curious citizen looking for a bit more insight into how the school district operates.
Continue reading "The Buffalo school district's new organizational chart" »
September 26, 2013 - 11:57 PM
A day after surviving a 5-4 vote regarding her dismissal, Buffalo Schools Superintendent Pamela Brown spent a little time Thursday pushing back against maverick board member Carl Paladino's assertion that she has no leadership experience.
“I certainly am up to the job,” she said. “I know there’s been some mention of my not having managerial experience. I have about 20 years of experience managing schools and large departments in other school districts. I have managed thousands of people prior to coming to Buffalo.”
For those who are curious about her experience, we've posted her resume at the end of this blog post.
Brown said Thursday she doesn’t anticipate serious problems working with the board going forward.
“There are so many things on which the board and I absolutely agree,” she said. “We believe we need to drastically improve the performance of all of our schools, and that’s what I’m working on every day. We sometimes disagree on exactly how that should be done, or what should be done, but I have to keep moving forward because the children in our schools are depending on us to focus on their needs.”
Superintendent Pamela Brown resume
September 25, 2013 - 4:35 PM
[UPDATE: This meeting ran for nearly 7 hours, ending after midnight, most likely a meeting record. We received more than 470 blog messages throughout the night. Thanks to everyone who followed the blog and participated.]
Very busy meeting tonight, including action on: the termination of Superintendent Pamela Brown, the employment of consultant Mary Guinn, the district's revised student transfer plan, the hiring of Lorey Schultz as the new chief of public relations, and a transparency resolution to move board meetings out of City Hall.
Here's a copy of the agenda, although many of the hot button issues above aren't listed anywhere because of the way the agenda is put together.
September 25, 2013 - 12:01 AM
Today's story about the district's hiring of the Cross and Joftus educational consulting company, and consultant Mary Guinn raises questions about the role of a consultant in a school district, particularly one who is working full-time and being treated, in many respects, like an administrator.
Board members are expected to vote today on a resolution by James Sampson to terminate the district's contract with Guinn's employer, Cross & Joftus. Here is a copy of the contract, which appears incomplete but was signed by Scott Joftus, former board president Mary Ruth Kapsiak and Superintendent Pamela Brown. Below is Guinn's resume.
Tonight's board meeting includes a huge and controversial agenda. Check back here for the live blog of the meeting, which starts at 5:30 p.m.
Continue reading "More on Mary Guinn and Cross & Joftus" »
September 24, 2013 - 9:00 AM
This is a question/complaint I hear or read about roughly once a week in some form. I heard this question far more frequently last week. It was mentioned in passing at school board meeting where a board members complained that the district has a "public image problem." It was an undercurrent at the Thursday rally in support of Superintendent Pamela Brown. And it was heard in regard to the district's hiring of a second public relations administrator.
The long version of this question/complaint is: "There are so many good things happening in the Buffalo City Schools. Teachers are working really hard, schools have these amazing community partnerships, suspensions are down, more students are graduating compared with last year, etc. Why doesn't The Buffalo News write about that?"
This question is typically stated in an accusatory fashion and often followed by self-drawn conclusions like: The News just wants to write negative, sensational stories that sell papers, or The Buffalo News has its own agenda or is somehow an instrument of The Man.
Continue reading "Why doesn't The Buffalo News write more "positive" education stories?" »
September 22, 2013 - 11:00 PM
Below is the letter from the State Education Department to Buffalo Superintendent Pamela Brown asking for proof that the district involved parents in its federal grant application and in its District Comprehensive Improvement Plan, as required by law.
District Parent Coordinating Council President Sam Radford has managed to gain a surprising amount of leverage over Buffalo school district leaders through his in-depth understanding of parent rights under state education law. It has yet to be seen whether, in this case, the State Education Department will find fault with the Buffalo school district.
Continue reading "State wants evidence of parental involvement in district plans" »
September 21, 2013 - 11:10 PM
Can you do as well as the Buffalo City Schools students who participated in the 2013 Middle School Math League competition? Following is one question from each of the three math meet packets, as well as a tie breaker question. The answers are at the bottom.
(To view a video of math teacher Keith Wiley, check out the previous blog post.)
Continue reading "How would you fare in Buffalo's Middle School Math League competition? Test questions and answers." »
September 21, 2013 - 11:00 PM
Houghton Academy math teacher Keith Wiley, who is featured in Sunday's story, describes himself as "a big kid" but also says he's a big believer in data analysis. If most students get a test question wrong, he says, "that's on me" and rethinks how to teach the concept.
"Once you've taught something, you have to assess and say, 'Do they really have it?'"
He added, "A lot of people say, 'I don't know math. I don't like math. I can't do math.' Well, you haven't had me yet."
Here's Wiley describing how the Middle School Math League competition works. An energetic teacher, even for this video he found it hard to sit still.
Continue reading "Math teacher Keith Wiley in words and action" »
September 18, 2013 - 10:00 AM
There may not be a lot of good news coming out of Buffalo City Schools right now, but Say Yes is one of them. At a press conference held this morning, Say Yes to Education officials named 11 more schools - including three Ivy League universities - that will provide fully paid college tuition to eligible students.
It should be noted that these scholarships aren't free rides for everyone. Aside from income limitations, students still must still get accepted to these schools and meet the schools' admission standards on their own merits. That's why Say Yes offers other student support services, so that eventually more students will be able to qualify for college admission.
Here's the full list of 40 private Say Yes colleges that are open to Buffalo public and charter school students (newly added schools in bold):
Continue reading "More schools partner with Say Yes" »
September 13, 2013 - 3:15 PM
A month after my initial request and 1 1/2 weeks into the new school year, the Buffalo school district has finally provided a completed list of the principal changes for this school year. The chart below shows the principal changes for all schools, what the background is of the new principal and what happened to the last one.
Principals have changed at 13 Buffalo public schools, including the former Pinnacle Charter School, which is being annexed by the Buffalo Public School district. Five were principals at different Buffalo schools last year, four were formerly assistant principals who have promoted within the district, and three new principals were recruited from outside the area.
Continue reading "Answers! Buffalo school principal changes for 2013-14" »