Radford misrepresents magnet school families

In a recent News article regarding segregation in the Buffalo Public Schools, outspoken DPCC President Sam Radford said, “Privileged people are going to see change differently than underprivileged people.” The privileged people he refers to are families in Buffalo magnet schools.

I am a parent of three children attending Olmsted 156, one of the magnet programs cited in a recent civil rights complaint, which Radford has openly supported. I am indeed a privileged person; but not for the reasons he asserts I am. Privilege comes from taking the responsibility to become actively involved in our children’s schools – wherever they may be – working to initiate change, one small gain at a time.

Before Olmsted, we spent seven years in a non-magnet school. I volunteered daily in classrooms – providing reading support, helping to deal with emotional and behavioral issues, witnessing the effects of poverty, hunger, neglect, fear and a blatant lack of parental involvement on a child’s learning experience. I was privileged to play a part in a proactive, holistic approach to education that took into account all factors affecting success.

Radford’s statements misrepresent families in Buffalo magnet schools. Magnet schools were created to meet the needs of students from across the district who exhibited exemplary achievement in schoolwork, standardized and entrance exam scores, and whose accelerated trajectory of achievement was not being met through traditional programs. But Olmsted is still a public school in an impoverished district with a culturally diverse community composed of 28 percent white and 72 percent minority students. The majority of our families struggle to overcome socioeconomic adversity daily. Yet our parental involvement is commendable. Our parents refuse to let hardship dictate their involvement in their children’s education. It is a power and a privilege afforded to all parents; but unfortunately, it is too often missing from our schools.

Amy Cappelli