StudentsFirstNY, a statewide education advocacy organization, and TNTP, a national nonprofit committed to ending the injustice of educational inequality, joined us yesterday to announce the release of a new report that we are proud to endorse.
The report, titled The Next Buffalo Teachers Contract: An Opportunity to Support Great Teaching & Student Learning, outlines a series of recommendations to improve upon teaching and learning through the Buffalo School District’s teacher contract negotiations.
After 15 years without a new teacher’s contract, the report says that Buffalo schools have an opportunity to revisit the agreement and make common sense changes that would result in lasting improvement to teaching and learning.
“A strong teachers’ contract is essential for turning around our failing schools and ensuring excellence in the classroom,” said our President & CEO, Dottie Gallagher-Cohen. “The governance, leadership and direction of the Buffalo Public Schools is of vital importance to the business community due to its impact on the Buffalo Niagara economy, workforce preparedness and climate for recruitment.”
TNTP carefully analyzed the current agreement between the Buffalo Board of Education and the Buffalo Teachers Federation for opportunities for improvement and came up with a series of recommendations based on five key areas that have been identified as driving progress in school systems across the country:
- Give principals and teachers flexibility during the hiring process
- Increase starting salaries and reward great work in the classroom with higher pay
- Offer teachers meaningful feedback on performance in the classroom
- Create a supportive environment for teaching and learning
- Reduce unnecessary processes and costs
Other area business leaders, and Partnership members, expressed their agreement on the importance of a highly functioning school system for our future economic development:
“Workforce Development needs to begin earlier in the education cycle if we are to generate a sustainable pipeline that will feed an evolving and growing economic base; it is critical that we have a highly effective school system that not only builds the necessary skills sets for our youth, it also presents these options for the future of our region giving them hope and direction for success. Demonstrating to a global economy that Western NY understands how to build a long run view that ensures a diverse employee base for existing and new companies enhances local investment potential and this strategic view must be embraced by a progressive school structure.” – Dennis Elsenbeck, Regional Executive, National Grid
“We need to fix our Buffalo Public School system so that our children will have opportunities to have fulfilling and successful lives. Our businesses will certainly grow here in Western New York if we can offer skilled and educated people. However, without a successful school system, the Buffalo renaissance will be unachievable.” – Thomas R. Emmerling, CPA, Managing Partner, Dopkins & Company, LLP
“The teacher’s contract is central to the success of the district and the 32,000 students it serves. We urge labor and management to immediately focus on this issue and quickly negotiate a best practices type of contract for the benefit of our teachers and students.” – Robert D. Gioia, President, The John R. Oishei Foundation
“The quality of Buffalo’s educational system directly impacts the productivity of our future workforces, which are—in turn—tied to the ongoing prosperity of our region. Updating the collective bargaining agreement to promote excellence in teaching is vital for us all.” – Lynne Marie Finn, President/CEO of Superior Workforce Solutions, a Superior Group company
“The positive spiral that is now the Renaissance of Buffalo Niagara must include a higher level of performance from our school systems to improve our young people’s abilities to be a part of this growth and not be ‘left behind’.” – Rocco Surace, Partner, The Bonadio Group
“The future growth and prosperity of our region into a next generation is reliant upon a strong and highly performing public school system. We need today’s leaders to negotiate a fair, balanced, fiscally responsible and current labor agreement that focuses on providing excellence in the class room. Our company’s growth in this community is dependent upon the successful conclusion of a new contract.” – Edward Walsh, President and Chief Operating Officer, Walsh Duffield Companies, Inc
We encourage you to read the entire report and its recommendations.