In a last minute fury to garner support to qualify for the federal government Race to the Top funds Superintendent James A. William and Board President, Ralph Hernandez together wooed four other members of the Buffalo Board of Education to sign on to the New York State Education Department Memorandum of Understanding deadline date of January 8, 2009. A City Hall press conference was called today to formally sign the documents to be sent to the NYS Education Department. The four other Board members who signed on were: Lou Petrucci, Catherine Nugent Panepinto, Mary Ruth Kapsiak and Florence Johnson. At an earlier meeting this week on Wednesday night a heated discussion ensued as Williams attempted to persuade Board members present about the importance of signing the required documents for the NYS Education Department before the dead line. Vivian Evans , Pamela Perry-Cahill and John Licata names were not mentioned in the Buffalo News article announcing those that signed on today, Friday, January 8, 2010. Phil Rumore President of the of the Buffalo Teachers Federation still declined to sign. However, indicated a willingness to work with the district if it does obtain the funds.
Nevertheless, it is a unfortunate that districts similar to Buffalo all over the country are being pressured to sign on to measures that are antithetical to basic tenets and mission of their organization. It’s too early to predict what impact all of this new federal initiatives is going to have on the future of American education. But it is a cause for alarm as the those interested in privatizing education through the development of more charter schools seem to have the upper hand now and using it to their advantage while educational leaders and stake holders in communities around the country are left to scramble to sign documents at the last minute or drop-of-a-hat to qualify for funds that may not be available in the future, leaving them again to fund costly mandates similar to the No Child Left Behind Act.
However, one has to ask where were all of the education unions when Arne Duncan was appointed the U.S. Secretary of Education since serious questions have been raised about his qualifications for one of the most important positions in the cabinet of President Barack Obama, holding only a B.A degree in sociology ?
It seems as though education in New York State has become a field where just anyone with the proper political credentials can rise to occupy significant positions of educational leadership and look no further than in New York City at the appointment of Chancellor Joel Klein a former prosecutor as an example of this trend. Unless educators begin to reclaim the profession, there may not be public education in the future as we know it today.