Sunday, May 1, 2011

Letters to the editor: Frustrated music teacher

Here is a great letter to the editor from the music teacher at Burgard High School. While I agree with 100% of what he says, I think the new principal there needs to give him a "personal day" before he hits some student over the head with a trombone...

Students' performance is tied to attendance

As some have pointed out, one of the biggest challenges to improving achievement in the Buffalo Public Schools is attendance. We simply cannot improve test scores and graduation rates if the students are not at their desks. But the District Parent Coordinating Council proposes to address the district’s poor performance by keeping their kids out of school! Perhaps a better idea would be to find a way to get more of them in school.

Every day, students cut school, or cut classes, or arrive late. Or they sit in an in-school suspension room (often for failure to serve multiple detentions they received for cutting class or being late). Or they are suspended from school for fistfights or other serious offenses. The School Zone blog on The News’ website has databases of attendance and suspension rates at Western New York schools for anyone who wants to see what we are facing.

Buffalo’s teachers, administrators and board members all share the parents’ dissatisfaction and frustration. We all want our kids to succeed and we are all searching for answers. So I ask DPCC members and parents to help us. Demand that your kids be in school, on time. Stop by and check on them, if you can. Demand that they be attentive and respectful. Demand that they show up to every class with pens, pencils and paper, but without cell phones. Make it clear to your children that fighting in school is unacceptable, that getting pregnant is not a career choice, that you expect them to take responsibility for their own education.

Tom Fenton

Music Teacher Burgard High School Buffalo

I could just picture the letter writer at the CPG Grille on a Friday afternoon at 4PM, downing shots: "Make it a double. I hate those fu*k*ing little bastards!"

While I can understand the frustration the parents' council has towards the Buffalo schools, taking the students out of class for a day is not the answer. The teacher here is correct. If Reverend Pridgen spent a few days observing the behavior of many of these students, it would really open up his eyes. As the letter writer implies, discipline and lack of responsibility on the students and many of their parents is the main cause for the schools' poor performance. Talk to any teacher in Buffalo. There are great kids in every class in every school in the city who aren't able to learn because of a few disruptive students.

And it's not disruptive like you see in the movies. I'm a substitute teacher in Buffalo, which is the equivalent to spending two tours of duty in Vietnam.These particular students are belligerent. They would not get away with this type of behavior anywhere else. Why do we allow it in the United States? The good parents, students, and teachers need to take back the schools from these troublemakers. Right now, in our current system, these particular students control the schools. And they know this. It might make a good news story for Reverend Pridgen and the Parents' Council to blame the teachers. However, if the community really wants to change the situation, they need to look in the mirror...

Students’ performance is tied to attendance


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