May 2014
May 07, 2014

Buffalo parents, teachers believe in their schools, and they want everyone to know

Author: By Matt Smith
Source: NYSUT United
Buffalo TF President Phil Rumore; Larry Scott, co-chair of the new Buffalo Parent-Teacher Organization; NYSUT President Karen E. Magee; Pamela Brown, superintendent of Buffalo schools; Roberta Cates, BPTO co-chair; BEST President JoAnn Sweat; and Barbara Seals Nevergold, Buffalo school board president, at the media event. Photo by Dennis Stierer.
Caption: From left: Buffalo TF President Phil Rumore; Larry Scott, co-chair of the new Buffalo Parent-Teacher Organization; NYSUT President Karen E. Magee; Pamela Brown, superintendent of Buffalo schools; Roberta Cates, BPTO co-chair; BEST President JoAnn Sweat; and Barbara Seals Nevergold, Buffalo school board president, at the media event. Photo by Dennis Stierer.

Parents and educators are showcasing the good news about what's happening in the Buffalo Public Schools, thanks to an innovative union-supported campaign.

The newly formed Buffalo Parent-Teacher Organization has unveiled a $500,000 multi-media campaign — "Buffalo Schools: Believe!" — highlighting the strengths of the city's public schools and dedicated to advancing collaboration among parents, educators and the community.

The BPTO campaign is being funded through grants from NYSUT, the Buffalo Teachers Federation and the National Education Association, one of NYSUT's national affiliates. The campaign includes print, billboard and Web ads; a Facebook page; and a radio ad featuring Buffalo public school students.

"Every day, hundreds of students, teachers and parents are doing amazing things in our schools. We are committed … to give them the credit they deserve and to provide a positive climate and an ‘I can do that' attitude that will bring us all together with a shared positive vision for the future of our students," said BTF President Phil Rumore.

"The accomplishments of Buffalo's students and teachers are inspiring and deserve to be told," said NYSUT President Karen E. Magee during a Buffalo media event in April to announce the campaign.

At the campaign's heart is a new website — www.buffaloschoolsbelieve.org — developed to encourage parents, teachers and students to share their schools' news and achievements. The site, which is maintained by volunteers, brings together in one place information and news about Buffalo's students, educators and schools; news about the parent-teacher group; and links to the "Say Yes Buffalo" program that provides enrichment and the potential of free college tuition for Buffalo students.

BPTO organizers, including many NYSUT members, acknowledge that Buffalo's schools — like many schools in urban, high-poverty areas — have their share of problems. But, they say, that doesn't mean the significant successes should be overlooked. They include:

  • College enrollment among graduating seniors has increased by 9 percentage points.
  • The district's plans to invest $4 million in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.
  • Buffalo is home to three high schools considered by U.S. News & World Report as among the best in the nation.
  • The opportunity for college tuition assistance from "Say Yes Buffalo."

NYSUT member JoAnn Sweat, president of the Buffalo Educational Support Team, voiced support from the district's School-Related Professionals.

"Congratulations to all of the stakeholders who are proving that, no matter your title, we are all caring parents who want a quality education for our children, and we must be involved in order to obtain it," Sweat said.

Also present to support the campaign were the district's board of education president, superintendent and a host of other dignitaries.