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WBEN NewsRadio 930>Audio & Video on Demand>>Prof. John Siskar, Buffalo State

Prof. John Siskar, Buffalo State

Jan 19, 2014|

on neighborhood schools and education reform

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

For the next drill bit and we want to be talking. About neighborhood schools specifically. In light of all the things that were said this week when the buffalo Catholic diocese. -- up shutting down some of its elementary schools doing some consolidation. Here's what bishop Malone of the diocese of buffalo had to say than. We're moving towards and equilibrium. Among Catholic elementary schools. Allowing for continued accessibility. Sustainability. And future growth. We're going to talk a little bit more about all of this for the next bit of John Cisco ours here from buffalo state college. He's in there at center for excellence in urban and rural education. He's someone who has talked quite a bit about the whole concept of neighborhood schools and what happens to keep them good in that. Not only an urban environment but also in a rural environment. It's interesting to note that specifically in this case. If you look at at all many of the closures that the Catholic diocese is talking about aren't in areas where there are. Neighborhoods for -- I mean I think in the neighborhood as a tight -- kind of urban city sort of thing these closures were in the south towns but it certainly gives us a jumping off point. Where we can talk a little bit more about all that's. We did plan and also having with us mark Goldman the author of city on the -- he's unavailable for us so we'll just to have more discussion with John. And we'll invites you to join on in on the way to 8030930. Is the number we'd -- to have your comments your questions. Are you win an area that has -- seen -- the shut -- of a school and what did what does that mean for your neighborhood for your community. Are you someone who on the other hand might be looking at. The tax side of it the expenses and realize that you know maybe the best way. To continue as the bishop argued there the best way may be to continue is to perhaps push ahead with bigger schools. Better funded schools but not as many of them 8030930. Professor John -- thanks for being here thanks for having me. Talked to me about the decline of neighborhood schools are way is what we're seeing here in the Catholic diocese here. Really something that I'm guessing public education had to go through quite a while ago. I think of some of the public districts that I'm familiar with them and many of them don't have as many elementary schools now as they once did. Well certainly there's. Change in population and schools. Population particularly in the city of buffalo has declined dramatically. The neighborhood schools. It really varies quite a bit if you look at Catholic schools are some of the other privates. You gonna find it very often they draw from -- wide area. So. As you get closer to. You know going back. 3040 years ago many are Catholic schools were also neighborhood schools because they the churches where the community -- as -- -- -- school. Talk about that that aspect up that the idea that in many ways. I guess I guess the question I'm really asking is when we lose a school want to lose in the sense to me in terms of sense of community I think we've lost in in many ways I think you're right we in this sense of this school. Over the past thirty years we've really redefined schools thirty years ago -- before that schools were considered. Partner in the community community senator. A place. Which would not only teach children math and English vote would in fact BO vibrant part of helping their community -- solid vibrant institution. And when these schools close we've lost that or do we just stand up finding. Other ways to try and get ourselves together with that sense of community with those activities. Does does society of -- vacuum here do we replace those things or do we just lose those things. I think it's hard to make national generalization but if you look it area to area and you can certainly say that often. They are not replace that there a sense of community a sense of connectedness. Has decreased in many of these areas. Let me play devil's advocate so what what does that mean -- to. A neighborhood or or group of people that get together. Well I. And as long as there's still PTA have the bigger consolidated school as long as the parents still. Wave in the driveway as they drop their kids off or or or put them on the bus stop. What does the loss of this sense of community mean. While I think it means many different things this. Again I think it has to start with the notion that. When we talk about schools historically in this country they were places that helped us as a society. Not only develop our next generation of citizens. But also be part of that whole community fabric of place where people would come together common meetingplace where there is the common ground and you look at many neighborhoods today. And you'll see places where people don't even know who lives next door them three houses down. And this is a particular problem in a district like say buffalo would -- It's absolutely a particular problem and and in the city of buffalo and the struggle. That started back. With the -- Regulations. Really. Created the demise of the neighborhood school. So desegregation. While it may have had a bigger broader purpose. Was the beginning of the end -- thing for these neighborhood schools for the neighborhood school is yes. And if there was a greater goal there. Of getting more diversity in the schools. Did. -- -- it did help that you know we need I mean to put this into context. -- there's there's lots of conversations going on today in schools are facing challenges like they've never seen before. And a lot of it is legislative that the the focus on both. No Child Left Behind and since then race to the top has been a redefinition of of the role of schools. If you look. And the emphasis and this. Has and -- and academics. And now and accountability now have children and their families but accountability of teachers if you look at that. That emphasis. Takes out the equation of what schools are about in that way. I -- pick up on that after the news break we have to -- and get the latest news headlines of course. Whether also issued today there is a little bit of -- wind warning to hear about won't get to all of that next and then on the other side of the break more Johnson scars here from buffalo state college. It's hard line we'll take your calls 28030932. And hold with the news -- on news radio 930 WVU and now here's Dell. And what are we can this -- politics before the next hour is done we're gonna touch on the NSA. But we're also going to hit on the whole concept of neighborhood schools a sense of community. Issues like balancing race and poverty and still having high quality schools 8030930s. And number. Are jumping off point is basically the decision earlier this week. By the buffalo Catholic diocese to consolidate some of their elementary schools they had not enough students support not enough parents support. Not enough kids basically to keep them all going so they said they're going to try and make for bigger elementary schools just fewer of them. And a lot of the reaction I've heard from parents and a lot of the discussion we've had here on the air earlier this week was how form many of these parents. It really takes away. For them a sense of community a sense of neighborhood schools that's a jumping off point that's the thing that we can talk a lot more about. This -- the sense of neighborhood schools. The sense of making schools better especially now leaving the Catholic diocese aside for second especially now in the city of buffalo. Our number is 8030930. If you'd like to join the conversation we'd love to have you board John Cisco. He's a professor at buffalo state college he's in their center for excellence and urban and rule education. He basically touches on a lot of these issues the entire idea. Of balancing certain things to make for good education -- let's pick back up right there talk to me about the things that you think. A school district or an education system needs and in what proportions I know you've got sort of a list of a three factors that have to be addressed. And and the three are very simply. High quality schools. And that means good teachers good management that kind of thing absolutely okay. But balancing that against. Issues of poverty and race. And are we doing a good job that's almost rhetorical Clinton and the answer are we doing a good job balancing those three John. And it knowing I don't think there's anyone. From. The city from the mayor in the superintendent on down to the anybody on the street who say we are we know we have real problems. In the city in dealing with balancing those issues. And are they. Are they almost like an amoeba if one pod starts to grow it's at the expense kind of the other -- that contract. How do you get a balance between the three if you're emphasizing for example. Race as we talked about before the break if -- emphasizing race you look at things like that the city of buffalo and other districts cross country. Desegregated. But in the process of they lost the neighborhood school concept and some of the sense of community is this is this like an -- does it doesn't slide one area out at the expense of the others. It it can. And certainly when one is the only after being considered in the other other to -- non. Then it's certainly -- to segregation as a great example of it we ended up in the city of buffalo. With some of the best schools in the country you had city honors being listed I think is the number four best school in the country in 2006. According to it was humorous news and world report. But you also have some in the lowest performing schools there way it. The -- before that. The schools in the city were segregated. And the places where race was. Divided in class was divided those children were being. We're failing miserably and it was criminal was happening in those schools can we argue that the magnet school devised by class as well or not. Yeah I mean there is a lottery. There is a lot of -- There with the that there is some of that there is some issue about who gets into the schools and now. But the issue you know the question of looking at. What's working well what's happening in those schools that is working well to me is the question and ought to BS not. You know are they in fact the problem because they're not as inclusive as -- could be so. What makes magna schools work -- we duplicate that on a level that might end up replacing some of the things we've lost we lost -- schools. Well and my argument would be that we need to reclaim neighborhood schools I think that is part of the issue because. You will see. What happens in successful schools. The children's needs are being met in part because family's own those schools and right now most of the schools even many of the magnets. There's an isolation for families from the schools and and their buying. Not maximizing their ability to succeed don't thing in the city of buffalo have mandated to what were called site based management teams that try to get. Parents involved in running the schools in the way that you just -- isn't happening. Yes and in most of the schools that are active it's a state mandate this site based management team every school in the state is required to have one. And if you look at the site based management teams often their active. But if you also look at the majority of parents. How active are they in the schools how active are they and their children's education and that's a different issue all together. And part of the reason why I wanted to have you win because buffalo state is doing a lot of work. With community partnerships -- -- -- with businesses perhaps and you mentioned it during the break while we're listening to the news. Businesses along grand -- really want to be involved in their school. In a way that might replace or replicate some of that neighborhood school interaction. Yes it absolutely can I mean if you look at it. Two projects that are moving forward in the city buffalo promise and and the you cite the choice neighborhood program that's one that looks at having all these folks were collaborative -- To make sure children succeed. We're having similar conversations on the west side we have a west side and -- promise neighborhood initiative. We've been meeting for about two years now working together with multiple partners and one of the most active groups are the businesses in an area. And you're not talking something like an empty bank and Bob Wilmer is getting involved in a school on such a big way as he's done Westminster. You're talking mom and pops wanted to be involved more at the school level absolutely give me an example how does work. He's an easy example is. Programs like the taste of diversity on the west side it's a summer. Festival that's been going on. Business owners are actively involved but it sitting at the table as the school principal in other teachers in the school and students active participants in that. And they connect meaningfully to the community but it Lafayette high school for instance a school that's made the news often for all the wrong reasons. One of the thing and there are many reasons that many things that are going on that are very strong there that don't make the news but one of them is that they have a service learning requirement. Children at Lafayette. Young adults at Lafayette are required to spend time giving back to the community. And working in collaboration. Sometimes with the business with other community groups in that area in 030930s. And. Over the phone calls are starting to roll on and and so -- we'll have more discussion as this goes ahead but let's bring in a few of those calls. If you'd like to talk about not only the state of schools but I guess. Part of a part of a jumping off point after the Catholic diocese talked earlier this week about shutting down elementary schools. Our big jumping off point really is the idea of neighborhood schools there are people that say we've lost that. John -- -- professor from buffalo state college he says. We certainly have because in some ways we concentrated on other things we've looked at race issues we've -- at class issues maybe not enough and we've looked at quality of school issues. And how those three balance he says is really what determines whether or not. You have a good school system and a three on my thirties and number but grandstand and Rochester high thanks for waiting Stan. Think you're taking. These bottom line and miserable thing. You could spend all the money you lost creek all the -- -- to politicize this thing. It's discipline. Discipline church and it won't. If that -- and you can't -- nobody cares. That father figures. Think period read the paper. It nobody put their. The world Jewish people up they're moderate. Get complicated as barbershop where -- bit of a feeling that's carried over into the schools. If you don't have it took it home in -- evidence schooled they're throwing your money away. -- -- -- -- Professor is a steroid -- that. Well all the callers right. Parents play an important role in making sure child successful in school. -- however if you look. I would say again I assume he's talking about the city of Buffalo's you'll fine. Many people working two and three jobs they are doing good job with their children. But the issues that children bring to school. Beyond discipline. Issues. Extreme stress. Issues of not having. As much time with reading lower. Talking you know when somebody's working three jobs and not having these other additional activities into the process. Those are things that hugely impact the ability there's lots of research that says that by third grade they're not reading on level. There. The chances of graduating high school goes down dramatically and all of the kinds of things those are things that are not based on bad parenting and those are based time. Living in poverty. But is there are waive them for. Districts to address all of these things that get brought to the table all of these things this spring not necessarily. From a lack of discipline likes dancing but the but the spring from the home the environmental factors how can that district to address all that because that's. That's too big for -- analysts now. It absolutely is and why things like what we were talking about earlier promise neighborhood and these kinds of initiatives that recognize that when. Social services community organizations. Government and schools all working collaboration you have things going on so for instance. Now one of the programs that we're working closely with his epic every parent her every person influences children. They have wonderful programs that help families. In all kinds of supports screenings for parents be advocates for their children in school etc. We have things like -- to succeed which is another one of our partners that works hard helping parents understand. These programs are I'm -- how you get parents can do it in many cases nobody knows it will living with who. These guys -- be even there is some do but it does anyone involved. How do you Greg -- -- an active. I I hear what you're saying but those are not parents that I work with on a regular basis in the city of buffalo. I'm not familiar with that being this that is standard case. I wonder though if your sample isn't the universal sample because. If I see a university programmer buff state program and I care about education yeah I'm going to get involved with the program. Is the average parent out there and this may be questioned the listeners to. 8030930. Is the parent the average parent out there involved enough in the schools -- No and in the city of buffalo buffalo it's extremely difficult moment in fact if you expect to the whole notion of neighborhood schools. I could be apparent that kind of last question as that it does a kind of circles back around to the rapture if it's not usual for parents have three children in the city of buffalo going to three different schools in the city. And when you're looking at a population where 50% of the population does not have their own private transportation. Tried to be active in three different schools using bus system while working two and three jobs OK so let's let's pretend than. That we consolidate we go back to neighborhood schools instead of having. Rob barely over here and -- over there we have them both at the same school were apparent myopia more inclined to be involved in that neighborhood school. Then we lose diversity which they say is an issue to. Which is why you couldn't. This solution isn't that tomorrow you turn around and make every school neighborhood school. You have way to many factors for that to happen you do have places where. The schools would become completely segregated with people from. Very low income. All put together room -- situation we've seen what's happened in the past with that those schools -- or those children word now given the services they need. But there are neighborhoods. Where you can bring together diverse group that's thoughtfully gone and this would be an evolutionary. In my opinion ought to be an evolutionary process rather than wholesale change it's not. It goes back to the whole issue of busing to Boston wasn't that it didn't solve some of the problems it just wasn't all holistic solution it. Created a long term positive outcome. -- Clarence relate for -- breaker wanna bring you -- the question normal part of the answer on the other side -- -- hole but or you're here now thanks for calling. -- -- I definitely forget the schools I tracking initiating in Boston Massachusetts by kids who are involved in the I think. And I would do vote that the I think it's been proven that it really doesn't work. If you know the neighborhood school. But the gentleman says. You know -- -- involving you more community involvement. -- chased him anymore with the Italy and they do with C yeah just -- Childs. This is appearing know who -- is friends that are. Identities they have money go to a field -- further exposing children to things that are outside the inner city. It is that -- extra help for children. Particularly in the lower -- because if they don't exceed the low grades -- after the loss in a very. In chip because the alert is based at preakness Larry. So what and I different -- is very idiotic and the city water should be for. Children that are. Work studious that they get better greens. Electoral split in the last since it -- public school. You have to take attempt to get it there is only for kids. But the college prep school -- so it's only for kids -- our college. All right I think that is the case it's of the honors we -- for our break my copy back and hold -- we'll pick it up on the other side. More after this it's hard line on news radio 930 WB -- -- Hardline on news radio 930 WBBM. We -- talking a little bit about neighborhood schools and a lot about education this morning especially in light of the decision early this week the Catholic diocese of buffalo. To consolidate elementary schools and eliminate ten of them mostly in the south -- gives us a chance talk more about the kind of issues. That have that swirl around the neighborhood schools John sis Paris here from buffalo state you heard him say a little bit earlier. That. Automatically going back to neighborhood schools wouldn't solve all the problems but that when we tried to solve desegregation. And got rid of neighborhood schools we kind of brought up some other ones as -- they need to be a balance there. We're kicking and all around a little bit right now if you'd like to get in on the conversation we'd love to have you -- 803 on 930. I do have to caution callers that. We're coming up -- news break here. And if you do call now you will probably hang on hold for a little bit but don't worry that's fine we'll get here let's bring back an Alley from Clarence and a former teacher herself. -- a quick question for John we have to go -- -- news for what you have. I am not much -- -- -- -- it hit a lot of the money that goes into the -- could be used for a more worthwhile purposes. Helping children. And I want to recommend -- book common ground it would pull a surprise. And it's all about -- I think you know the other. Problems that it incurred in the. Or about it is that is that Diane Ravitch. -- Okay he's nodding his head is more familiar with that -- I am come on and John. What's his what's the premise that what's it say what it talks about the issues and some of the problems that were created with busing. And Kelly's right and certainly. Experience it in Boston where it was. The most they had -- -- over and we did -- knew it was scary and ugly and and there were. There are lots of problems connected with it. But we should also remember that. If you look at things that happened during that period. For instance. In 1975. Was the first time we had the same number of the children of any color going to college. As a percent. And we're nowhere near that any longer and part of that was when we -- the government was focus more on. Getting children together in getting programs that supported the schools. And we've lost that with a focus where the government is having today on its focus on academic. Let's pick that up on the other side of the break that that's fascinating to me. 8030930s. And number -- on hold stay right there professor Johnson stars here he's with buffalo state college in the center for excellence and rural I'm gonna get a right rural and urban education. 8030930. More after the news it's hard line on news radio 930 W. UN. WB GN 9:30 AM is buffalo as for the mills. It's hard line on news radio 930 WVU and this Davie -- we are talking today. A little bit about neighborhood schools were jumping off point is the buffalo diocese knew what they. They did earlier this week with the consolidation of elementary schools we're going way beyond that 28030930s. Number you'd like to join us. John says scars here. From Suri buffalo state center for. Excellence and urban and rural education. 8030930. John before the break you cents on the and I wanna have you repeat -- -- think it's something deeply into just a little bit better. Describe what you said about 1975. And the make -- of college classes. If you look in 1970 ties the 80% of African American children Hispanic children white children going to count going to college at that time. That percent -- this thing. All right it is no longer anywhere near equal because now we have started to concentrate on things like No Child Left Behind. I would argue that's part of the issue yes you looked at government. When the government was supporting the school in the seventies and the eighties they were asking what supports could they bring to. Develop a holistic child today. Between No Child Left Behind in race this time we're really focused on only what is it how effective are they in math and English. And how good and it taking -- But the standards crowd would argue that when you measure us on math and English. We don't measure up is that time may be to emphasize that or or are you advocating more holistic approach. Well I'm certainly advocating more holistic approach we've never measured up and that way. And what is that is that we don't measure up shouldn't. Shouldn't we. Devil's advocate here emphasizes academics and maybe get those standards back up and then starts ago Lucy Lucy and at and the other stuff. Well. I would argue a few things one. We're one of the few countries in the world that are moving towards -- test based education system everyone else is moving away from it those that are doing it okay. In whenever I go to China and Europe changes. A number of times. This schools that I visit they want. They asked me how to teach in western way -- -- -- open questioning strategies how to use problems opening arteries these other things. We've never been very good and international task but we also have -- greater percentage of our students doing it and depending on how you. And slice the numbers we actually performer outperform. When you take issues again of poverty. In -- consideration in doing that. John in Rochester come on and thanks for waiting you're on the air. They immediately. And I'm and the toughest aspect I I. I haven't taught our children they have taught it could at a college global. And I -- on testing be really the more moderate learning I think it. Critical. Four for glory but Mike Mike's point -- is pretty. I don't look at it the 800 pound gorilla in the room. School vouchers which would promote competition you say yeah. Could be a big contributor to improving. Our neighborhood schools and making neighborhood schools liable what are your thoughts. There and -- arguments for vouchers. However neighborhood schools certainly wouldn't be one of them because the first thing you're doing is you're having schools that children. In their schools of choice that's what we have in buffalo right now that's why we have children. Sometimes in the same family is going to three different schools. However. If you also look at the reality of those situations. And for instance that charter school movement. Charter schools have performed no better than public schools. Overall nationally. And that wind sometimes they do perform better it's when they have different. Demographics even within the same city many of the city of buffalo charters. The city of buffalo charters that have the same demographics as the public schools that is that they've taken the same children. The same number of free and reduced launch same number with special needs saying language learning they perform no better than the vote. -- schools but aren't those schools overall especially in a district like buffalo that has some severely underperforming schools. Aren't the charter is doing better than those under performing ones wouldn't vouchers in that case. Allow kids out of the bad schools and into a better one. It. We this. It's I'm trying not to get -- mine profits -- -- that's compared to sell well what's on your -- So let me take it into a couple pieces a home Y and charters haven't had not shown to be particularly effective particularly with those in greatest needs we don't we do know what works. We know they're smaller class sizes work we know that good prenatal care works we know that stable faculty and staff works. We know that extended time in school day in year works we know that more financial support works and we know that effective teachers work. And we know that schools that have. Do you not have isolated. Poverty in particular. Are effective. And those are things that we know work charter schools those that are effective very often they're doing those things if you did those things gave. Those supports. To the majority of schools. And this is a complicated issue too because. Those supports. Would be extremely helpful buffalo has many challenges including administrative challenges including lots of other things. That need to be addressed as well and I just want to make that that is well. So you would advocate. A priority based system looking at those things supporting those things rather than something like NC LB. Absolutely. How do we get there. And I know that might be. A question that that the answer is a lot longer than we have time for typical way it is but it gets back to this whole notion we. Yet there is not you cannot find any large school system. In the country that has turned things around. Doesn't exist buffalo is by no means unique and the problems that we're talking with are going to take time to address some of them. So bringing in these extra supports means changing federal and state law although it could be enough for New York State to say no we're not gonna participate in the race for the top. Bringing these other things help bring in neighborhood schools help. But we also have to recognize that schools are not an improved by only what happens inside the schools that. There's economic and political realities that have to take place and say it again that surprised me no large urban schools really doing well. Some are doing better than. Most of them are doing better than they have -- nobody's turned it around there's not a main you know Angeles. Closest one I'm aware of the Cincinnati -- You know everyone else is still struggling with these same issues that we're dealing with graduation rates that never cared about 60%. With. You know children of color being -- graduating it extremely low rates. Comparable to buffalo. And you know Buffalo's graduation rate. African American males that point 5%. While again and use this we're not loosely as criminal. And it's by no means lowest in the country. All right so by way of summary here than how do we proceed. Opponent who because I hear you're saying about sporting those programs that but that we're required turning everything upside down shaking -- but now. Yes you -- reorganized from top bottom or is there something in the meantime. That could possibly help. Well I think there are things in the meantime there can help. We know you know we have programs -- a great example to say yes program that's offering summer programs that are offering. Programs during the day they're offering. This site coordinators that are working and making sure these outside and he's -- community based groups social groups. Are working in collaboration holistic -- promise neighborhood. Those kinds of programs that are working holistic play. Those are things that we can do right now starting to bring back neighborhood schools where it makes sense we could do that right now without changing anything. All of those things are possible all right John great great discussion thanks for coming on and good stuff thanks John Cisco. Excellence in urban and rural education certainly no print -- copies as. That's how they remember the name there.

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