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A doctorate does not guarantee excellence

So, having a doctorate is now a celebrated badge of great wisdom and ability. Donn Esmonde’s recent column posited that Buffalo School Superintendent Pamela Brown should not be questioned of her shortcomings because she has a Ph.D. Similarly, at the last School Board meeting a community leader attacked Carl Paladino, saying, “Who has the Ph.D.?”

Does anyone understand that the quest to get a doctorate follows a course of studies mostly prescribed by someone else? The candidate is expected to traverse the system in a mostly subservient and pleasing manner, as expected in any political bureaucracy. You go along to get along. Foreign and minority students are especially sought by the university system because they don’t rock the boat and generally adopt the program as prescribed. Believe me; this environment does not create agents of change. In fact, some professors I have known would be challenged running a two-room school house.

Look, a Harvard doctorate doesn’t give you the ability to look in the eyes of somebody and know he is lying. A few letters after your name provide no inner compass allowing you to make the right decision at a critical moment. Writing lots of term papers does not prepare your instincts to recognize and smell the blood in the water.

The Buffalo Public Schools are a complex mess. If you found yourself in a similar situation and had one phone call to make, who would you call, Brown or Paladino? I would be praying that Paladino answered.

Joe Weiss, Ph.D.

Clarence