CE Education Day


Day Session Blogger: Cait Zulewski, BlueCross BlueShield of WNY

How are Buffalo schools are preparing students for success beyond the classroom: both individually, and as a group?

Many of the public and charter schools have career-focused tracks throughout the four years of high school to prepare students for certain job paths. During our tour of Charter Schools for Applied Technologies, we learned their mission is to prepare students for "family-sustaining careers" - including career paths that require a two and four year degree, as well as those skilled trades and vocations that require other training.

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

Say Yes Buffalo is a great resource for those students interested in pursuing a college education - beyond scholarships for students, they also provide many services to prepare students for life after high school, including internships, and mentorships.

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

Public and charter schools share the same desire - and challenge - to educate students as best as they can with the resources they have, and both are open to the public/require no enrollment fees from families. While charter schools have more freedom and flexibility to design their educational program and manage their financial resources than public schools, they also receive less per-pupil funding than public schools, and have high levels of accountability and performance through their 5-year charters. If they don't meet the standards set in their charter, they won't renew and the school will have to close.

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

It varies by school, but a major common thread is that teachers and school administrators play a heavy role in helping to support students with greater needs. Guidance counselors have a key part as well.

What about this day impacted you the most?

The challenges facing public and charter schools are numerous. Safety, resources, not enough funding or staffing for the needs of the students were all themes we heard about through the day. But the passion and enthusiasm of the students and educators we met was palpable, and we could see the pride they had in their schools.

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

As we heard during our panel discussion: Vote in your community's school board elections. Take the time to really understand the school board candidates and how they will shape and impact the education of our community's children.

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

I think the simplest way to say it is resources. It's something that every group heard about in all the individual tours we took, it was discussed by the panel we heard from later in the day. The needs of today's students are great. That includes educational, emotional, even looking at families as whole. There are programs in place that are starting to address this, especially the community schools being instituted in the public schools. But lack of resources impacts almost every school in the system.