Niagara Gazette

Columns

October 11, 2013

HAMILTON: Our fine failing schools cost more than we may think

Niagara Gazette — We have many things to be proud about in our Niagara Falls school system, but the quality of education just “ain’t” one of them. 

With the Porter Road high school being state-of-the-art and, when it was first built, the finest high school building in the state, the rebuild of Niagara Street School, the work that is being done on the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) laboratories at some of the elementary-level schools and the city being on tap to soon have some of the finest athletic fields in the state, none of these things have or will make our schools a world-class system.

Sadly, despite these accoutrements, our kids are not leaving any of these facilities being any smarter than any of the other districts’ that have none of these opulent trappings. And if you are drinking that bottled swill that it costs little to nothing to local taxpayer, then you are drunk on the poor education that you likely received from the same system. The reason will be explained in a minute.

But on a brighter note, the city’s school system has some of the most experienced classroom teachers in the state; and with that you’d think that the product that the production of these fine facilities would not be in the bottom 10 percent of all Western New York systems. You would think that they would be in the top 10 percent — nearer to the top 5 percent pay ranking of these quality classroom teachers.

So then, what could be the disconnect with these finest facilities, best teachers, but poorest results?

Don’ get me wrong, we compare favorably among other bad districts. But we can do better than even many of the better districts.

My belief, and the belief of some of the teachers, is that the problems are the elements on the periphery — the students/parents and the administration/board. It is a sandwich made with good meat, but with bad bread; and both of these elements breed each other.

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