RL Education Day


Day Session Blogger: Lisa LoFaso, Ingram Micro

What opportunities are being presented to students for planning beyond high school?

Financial planning and tuition management services are offered to students who choose to pursue college after high school. Trade skill programs are available in high school for students who are looking to join the workforce full time after graduation. There are options for adult learners to go back to school or start over in a new career path. For students who end up in the criminal justice system, there are support services available to them to re-acclimate with society and become trained in not only technical skills to be marketable in a trade, but also soft skills that are necessary requirements for success in any job.

What vocational programs are available to students who opt not to take a "traditional" college or military path?

For students who, due to circumstance or preference, decide to join the workforce immediately following high school graduation, programs and resources are available in a wide range of skills to prepare themselves in a trade. Our LB group was fortunate to meet with students and administration from Emerson School of Hospitality, ERIE1 BOCES, Erie Community College, and others in small group settings to familiarize ourselves with accessibility of these offerings and the gaps in today's workforce that require expertise in these areas.

What are the similarities, differences, and challenges of public and charter schools?

Public and charter schools are similar in the aspect that the teachers are passionate about the students succeeding, and the students our LB group met with were equally as vested in their futures and setting themselves up for success after graduation. Parental engagement is a challenge for both public and charter schools. While charter schools can remove a student for not meeting certain academic or behavioral standards, that student is then sent to a public school where the doors are required to be open for them. Charter schools receive funding through grants, while public schools do not. Charter schools are more closely monitored in their performance and can lose funding if standards are not met.

What support services exist for students who have social, emotional, developmental, or other needs that go beyond the classroom?

From many schools our LB group visited, the teachers and administrators are a massive support system for students with extenuating needs. Individualized attention can be a challenge because of the student to teacher ratio, but a focus seems to be heavily placed on getting communities together and engaging the parents in school activities whenever possible. We met with Say Yes To Education who discussed financial support services for students who choose to pursue a college path.

What about this day impacted you the most?

The students. Seeing their passion about their futures and drive to succeed is motivating and inspires hope for the future of our city. Many are full time students (including being involved in electives and extra- curricular), and also work or have extenuating family circumstances. These children are amazing.

How can we, as leaders in the community, work to improve education in WNY?

The LB group can improve education by getting more involved, we learned that the requirements to sit on a school board are minimal. If not participating in that way, we can vote in school board elections to ensure a fresh perspective and passion are being brought to the districts within the city.

Based on your day today, what is the biggest challenge in education in Buffalo today?

Funding and allocation of resources. Budget challenges aside, how that money is dispersed seems to be an even more pressing matter. During our discussion with Dr. Catherine Flanagan-Priore, we reviewed how being administratively top heavy can tilt spending. With the lottery system currently in place, transportation for children who attend schools outside of walking distance from their homes can be a significant spend and also does not have the positive consequences that were originally intended when that decision was made.

Additional thoughts or take-away's?

Our LB group has a mix of backgrounds in schooling ranging from public, charter, and private for high school education. The complexities in navigating the Buffalo school system were extremely eye- opening for those of us who did not have that direct experience as part of our childhoods.