Last night, local firebrand Carl Paladino was sworn in as a member of the Buffalo School Board. He has promised immediate shake-ups and has already announced he will file an immediate motion to dismiss Dr. Pamela Brown, the current Superintendent. The grounds? She is unqualified. This, of course coming from a volunteer guy who has no educational experience.
In an earlier post, I agreed with Carl Paladino, (an uncommon occurrence) that Buffalo Schools are broken and something needs to be done. As a guy with some educational experience, Paladino is wrong in his target. Dr. Pamela Brown and the teachers aren't the problems with the Buffalo Schools. Brown has actually done some good things and shows a real awareness of what some of the district's problems are. She is focusing on big and difficult issues like attendance, and having some minor successes with it. The challenge: the problem is much bigger than the schools themselves, and has to do with the homes and the communities.
I heard Paladino speak during some interview awhile back, and he hit the nail right on the head. The problem in the Buffalo Schools is that many students now are the products of young parents who failed in the schools during their time there. Those parents now, some of them single parents at a very young age, are not equipped to help their kids be successful. School is difficult now. Kids need the support of their parents, and the parents often can't help, by academic support on homework "mom, what does this word mean?" or even by instilling good study habits, which the parents themselves often did not have.
Paladino was dead nuts on this issue. It was his words that made me see the problem. And yet his first action as a member of the school board is to call for the Superintendent's head. It remains to be seen how the School Board members will align themselves. I don't imagine that Paladino will have immediate majority support, so, like the 37 votes to repeal Obamacare, this motion will be only symbolic, and probably won't go anywhere. A waste of time to make a point. If Paladino wants to fire Dr. Brown, he is going to have to make his case, with evidence, over a period of time, and build support. Not demand it on Day One.
Paladino knows what the biggest issue is, so it'll be interesting to see if he works to address it, or if he turns the Buffalo Board of Education into fodder for a reality TV show, as he brandishes his disdain for Administration, the Buffalo teachers and union head, Phil Rumore. I hope for the former. It would be a big shame for Carl Paladino to waste his position as the most influential person in Western New York. He can actually address the problems or his term can be, as Shakespeare had Macbeth say "full of sound and fury, and signifying nothing."