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We must change mindset of Buffalo students, parents

The problems with the Buffalo Public Schools were not created overnight and will not be resolved overnight. You can hire the best superintendent that money can buy. You can even offer a $500,000 signing bonus to the best candidate. You can turn every school into a charter school. You can break the teachers union. You can change the School Board members. However, all of this will be in vain unless you address the No. 1 issue.

The school population is made up predominantly of students who are poverty-stricken. A host of social and economic problems plague the city. In order to change the district’s downhill spiral, you have to change the culture. You have to change the mindset of the students and their parents. I have three children in the Buffalo Public Schools and they are all doing well. The main reason why my children are doing well is because my wife and I made education a priority in our household. We instilled in our children a hunger and a thirst for knowledge. We expect them to do well and provide them with the necessary tools to succeed.

If we do not change the mindset and make learning a priority, we can’t change test scores. Students have to come to school ready and committed to learn. Students have to be well-rested and not worrying about where their next meal is coming from.

Yes, there are some bad teachers, bad administrators and outdated teaching models, but there is a whole lot of bad parenting in the district. The absent fathers, teen pregnancies, single-parent households, the drugs, the gangs and the overall hopelessness have a lot to do with the test scores. I am not saying that every student who is affected by one or more of these factors will succumb to them, but it sure makes it harder to overcome them. Let’s stop making excuses and educate some parents to educate their children.

Alfred C. Gary

Buffalo