Bryon J. McIntyre sees himself as an agent for change in the Buffalo Public Schools.
The lifelong city resident credits education with helping him pull his life together after he admittedly spent his late teenage and early adult years in a destructive haze of drugs and alcohol.
“Education was my deliverance. Education is the vehicle to come out of whatever bondage you’re in. It doesn’t guarantee you a job, but it guarantees you an opportunity,” McIntyre said.
McIntyre, 50, wants to increase the ranks of students for whom education can lead to a brighter future. Doing so, he says, depends on increasing the number of high school graduates, including the numbers of African-American and Latino males who, he frequently notes, drop out at a rate of more than 70 percent.
The retired firefighter, who holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from SUNY Buffalo State, is first vice president of the District Parent Coordinating Council and a former president of the Performing Arts Parent-Teacher Organization. To add a Board of Education seat to that resumé will mean that the McKinley High School graduate will have to unseat incumbent Mary Ruth Kapsiak, the current board president.
He was also a substitute teacher in the district for over eight years, until about two years ago, an experience he contends puts him more in touch with the daily problems of parents, faculty, students and administrators.
“In the years since [Kapsiak] has been there, has the Central District improved? Has the district improved? No. Is the community more informed about what needs to be done, what types of support are needed? No.
“I have an investment in the system. I don’t have employees in the system, I have children, McIntyre said, referring to three of his children who attend public school – Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts, Frederick Law Olmsted School 156 and Stanley G. Falk School, as well as Health Science Charter School.
McIntyre, a member of the district’s Title I Committee, the Special Education Parent Advisory Committee and a parent advocate at suspension hearings, is a past vice president of Citizen Action, though the group is endorsing his opponent.
He is a strong believer in reinstating the residency rule for teachers. Only two firefighters at his firehouse lived in the city, which he believed contributed to a “different mindset and cultural disconnect.”
He favors a return to neighborhood schools to encourage parent participation and erase inequities he says are perpetuated by a lack of transportation available to people of limited financial means. McIntyre also looks favorably on charter schools, a reversal of the position he took when he was an active member of Citizen Action.
“I thought charter schools were the devil. Well, I have a child in Buffalo Health Sciences Charter, in the 10th grade. If Bozo the Clown could teach my children, I would have Bozo the Clown. It’s every parent’s right to have a choice, and to place their child where they think their child will best thrive,” McIntyre said.
He is also highly supportive of Superintendent Pamela C. Brown, whom he praises for being responsive to parents and for acting with transparency.
“I like to refer to Dr. Brown as the ‘Condoleezza Rice of education,’ because Condoleezza was, in my opinion, highly intelligent and was about her business. And that’s what I think the superintendent is,” McIntyre said. “At the end of her meetings, problems are solved or on their way to a rational solution, which we haven’t had in quite some time, in my opinion.”
He believes that board rules and regulations are often overlooked and that Title I dollars to help low-achieving students have been misused. The School Board, he says, has fallen short on the job.
“I’m very dissatisfied with the job it’s done this far. I believe the intentions are there, but there is a certain disconnect,” McIntyre said. “I know Buffalo is on the rise, and with what we have going on, we have to have our children educated.”
McIntyre said he expected to pay for his campaign out-of-pocket, while Kapsiak, his opponent, is receiving contributions from the Buffalo Teachers Federation.