We repeat our question from last week: Has there ever been a more important School Board election in Buffalo?
Certainly not in recent memory. The school district is at a turning point. New teacher evaluations are about to take hold. Increases in state education aid are increasingly being tied to performance. Powerful assistance from the private sector seems drawn to Buffalo like metal filings to a magnet, though how long it will last in a district that insists on dysfunction is anyone’s guess.
Indeed, Buffalo schools are as muddled as ever. The administration made an unpublicized side deal with the teachers union on evaluations, thereby threatening to cost the district millions of dollars in state aid. Student achievement remains disturbingly weak, as does the district’s graduation rate. The School Board, as well-intentioned as its members may be, hasn’t shown itself up to the urgent task of ensuring that Buffalo students receive the education to which they are entitled.
This week, voters have the opportunity to change that. On Tuesday, they can cast their ballots in this year’s School Board election, selecting the candidates they believe will best do the job. It is important that they do vote, but that isn’t typically the case.
Turnout in most Buffalo School Board elections is anemic, to say the least. The date of the election is odd, tied neither to the traditional political calendar nor the voting day in most other school districts. That depresses turnout. So, we suspect, does a sense of futility, given the years of failure and the chronic efforts of the Buffalo Teachers Federation to block any change.
Those efforts appear to be continuing in this election, with the anonymous mailing of repulsive flyers opposing candidates who are pushing for reform. In scientific exploration, it is common to discount the outliers in research. We recommend a similar approach regarding these flyers. Disregard them; they are so over the top as to be unworthy of influence. Vote for the candidate you believe will give students their best shot at a good education.
This election has drawn significant attention, largely due to the candidacy of Buffalo’s voluble Carl Paladino, the Republican candidate for governor in 2010. We should all hope for a good turnout and, more than that, push for one. Buffalo voters should all go to the polls tomorrow and they should bring someone with them. This is a chance for change. It would be a shame to waste it. The polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Here are our endorsements in the election’s contested races: Park District, no endorsement. Central District, Bryon J. McIntyre. North District, Jason McCarthy. West District, James M. Sampson.