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Hypothetically Speaking: U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights investigation into claims that the Buffalo Public School district discriminated against minorities in the admission into the districts criteria based schools.

downloadI would first like to state that I have no first hand knowledge of the particulars in the complaint, the process of the investigation or evidence discovered, meetings between the parties and process that lead to the resolution that I will discuss. I’m purely looking at the impasse from a logic and fact based perspective, with an understanding of the City of Buffalo’s history. So from that viewpoint I asked myself, what the investigation discovered in terms of discrimination against minorities and why I believe it will not affect the academic standings of the schools. I intend to research the case thoroughly and at present have a call into the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights; New York City office to obtain as much information as I can on the complaint, investigation/evidence collected and resolution. I will compare my conclusions, with the information I obtain on the complaint and subsequent investigation in a near future blog.

So The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights issued a resolution on July 11th 2014, after three parents in the City of Buffalo Public School District filed a complaint. Parents had accused the school district of discriminating against minorities at criteria based schools such Olmsted and City Honors. I’m sure The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights conducted a thorough investigation; they usually do when it not their own, and found there where discriminatory practices in terms of admissions in criteria based schools. Knowing a little bit about the process; having my son apply in 5th grade to City Honors and the year prior to his first high school to Hutch Tech/Leonardo Di Vinci. We only went all the way with the process prior to his first high school year; being accepted into Leonardo Di Vinci, but declining. The process to me seemed to be straight forward, with the application to City Honors a lot more cumbersome. My son was an 89-94 student his elementary years; so he wasn’t on the fence, but what about the ones that are? When it comes to making that decision when a lot of students are in that position? There are always students that are slam dunk winners, but what about the lower half that are so similar in academic ability, what would set them apart from another student? What sets two candidates for the same job apart that have similar abilities? Now this is where my logic, fact based and historical perspective are enacted.

So the facts are there is a disparity in terms of the normal ethnic ratio at three criteria Buffalo Public Schools. The most sought after one City Honors is 64% are white, 21% Black and 6% Hispanic. The other criteria schools with the next greatest ethic disparity are The Buffalo Academy for the Performing Arts with in 65% black, 19% White and 13% Hispanic and Emerson School of Hospitality, which is 60% Black, 20% White and 19% Hispanic. So I really don’t see anything that I believe would lead anyone to believe that there was overt or covert discrimination occurring in most criteria schools. The main issue is City Honors high school. City Honors had the highest ethnic disparity of any criteria school and also had a higher socioeconomic student population, like many other criteria schools, but to a greater degree. Also many students are clustered in small defined areas of the city. When you combine the two this crates money and an established network. The facts of a capitalistic society dictate that money and influence equal opportunities for those who have them, and none for those who do not.

So my logical assumption is that human nature will take over and individuals will use their money and influence to their advantage. The past 40 years there has also been a parental shift from children having to earn their way, to parents wanting to give their children the easiest way through life. That’s why more children today still live home, while driving a nice car, going on vacations and going out every weekend. Given the present parental reality I believe many parents would do anything for their children, so would it be far fetched for some to use their money and influence to secure a position in a higher ranking Buffalo Public School.

From my historical perspective the City of Buffalo’s money and influence; regardless of what the ethnic make up of the mayor is, is made up predominantly of the white population and it has been since the cities inception. With this money and influence is the power to direct where the money flows, who wins elections and who obtains the most sought after positions. The fight to maintain that money and influence is hardcore is a life or death situation for some who have it. If you don’t believe me read up on this cities past 150 years. Some will lie, cheat, steal; deceive the public to maintain the present day situation. So that being said, why wouldn’t some use their influence to affect the selection process to the most sought after positions at the best academic schools?

So in terms of the perspective of fact, logic and history; and like I said previously with no first hand knowledge of the complaint, investigation or findings, would have to conclude that the issues that The U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights uncovered isuues of influence in the selection process. If there is a selection process that is not specifically defined, then the opportunity to influence the selection process is always a possibility. I don’t believe people are being overtly racist in what they were doing; it’s just that a certain segment of the population has the influence and is using it to their advantage. The unfortunate fact is that in our city still has major divisions and they are played out in situations of the most sought after items. And regardless of the facts some individuals will attribute the situation race.

Now why I don’t believe the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights resolution will lessen the academic standing of the criteria schools. For one, if you establish a well defined and clearly stated admissions process you can be assured the best possible applicants. You will also have an outside party overseeing the creation of the admission process so this should also lessen inappropriate influence. You also won’t have students getting in because they have parents or others that will affect the selection process. Because of these changes what I would hope would happen is that the admission process will become well defined, students will have to work harder to gain admission and the schools academic standing will increase. The only problem is that some want to open more spots in the criteria schools, knowing that this the discrimination found by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights was present, but not rampant. They want to change the ethnic make up of these schools, some how believing that this will make them better students and productive members of society. This is a fallacy and is the only viewpoint that could derail the academic standing of these schools. As per a conversation I had with a teacher at Emerson School of Hospitality. We are accepting more and more students that aren’t up to the schools academic challenge. When a student can’t handle the academic work they act out and lessen the school environment that we have worked so hard to cultivate.

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Harris On Buffalo Public Schools

Educate the People, Educate the World

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