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We don’t have enough criteria-based schools

“All of us know what those conditions are: ignorance, discrimination, slums, poverty, disease, not enough jobs. … We should attack these conditions … because there is simply no other way to achieve a decent and orderly society in America.” And just who is this radical uttering such effrontery to the privatization reform movement ushered in by Presidents George W. Bush and Obama? It was President Lyndon B. Johnson, in 1967, addressing the nation after commissioning the investigation of riots.

Half a century later, we have our federal government probing Buffalo’s school district for racial discrimination, seemingly searching for some missing justice too long denied. But federal and state education departments are looking in the wrong place for injustice, by holding the 66 percent white kids at City Honors responsible for the decades of darkness of not adequately funding public education, and now worse, parceling out what remains to private concerns.

Criteria-based schools like City Honors and Hutch-Tech are not the problem. The problem is we don’t have enough of them! Standardized tests don’t have to be the only or major criteria, either. Have ample after-school programs for all grades, but especially the elementary, and have the humanities be the core curriculum, while standardized tests are few, far between and low stakes. Only the classroom teachers and administrators should be doing the evaluating.

Buffalo’s kids can learn that their society is decent and cares for them. Then an orderly society – productive, competitive and alive – will bring a prosperity that we can all share in.

Ray Peterson

Buffalo