Niagara Gazette — French journalist and novelist, Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (1808-1890) is often credited with coining the phrase, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”, translated, “The more things change, the more they remain the same”, a fitting description for the most recent disappointing news from the New York Education Commissioner about the sad state of affairs generally with New York boasting a slight rise to a 74.9 percent graduation rate while Niagara Falls remains stuck closer to the bottom at 63.1 percent with neighbors Buffalo at 53.4 and Rochester a distant last place at 43 percent.
These are not the confidence building numbers that a region trying to redefine itself wants to brag about, but they certainly cannot be ignored either. Parents responding to the heavy media campaigns around the country promoting New York as a good place to do business may not be so inclined as to seriously consider relocating thousands of miles from better performing schools for business purposes in exchange for poorer graduation rates for their children.
No doubt poverty, cultural differences and parent participation all play significant roles as the data clearly demonstrate; the greater the concentration of low income families in a district, the lower the graduation rate; the more affluent the district, the higher the graduation rate.
While I’m not exactly sure where all of the solutions to the economic challenges lie, I do suspect that English Language Arts, also known as “reading skills” might be one of the many that parents and children can improve on their own, with a little help from friends, like Rotary International.
Niagara Falls Rotary Club President, John Cooper says they and thousands of other local clubs raise millions of dollars every year in order to donate dictionaries and other learning materials to children around the world. “But”, he says, nothing does more to inspire children to read more than having someone read to them, especially a parent”.