BN360 Spotlight Series: Education as an anchor or an elevator

Although Buffalo is on the rise, there is a heavy anchor that is holding back the potential of this resurgence: our public school system.

There is new evidence every day in construction and rehabilitations, new restaurants and business expansions. However, each year, our school system fails thousands of students, many of whom drop out or fail to graduate.

Even among those graduating, too many are not equipped with the skills needed to succeed in college or in a career.

Our school system does not need to be this way; a successful school system could be an elevator for our urban revival, pushing the city’s rebirth even further.

Not only would a thriving school system attract families back into the urban core (instead of pushing families further into the suburbs,) but an educated and talented population of young people would create the workforce and citizenry needed to continue to improve all sections of our city.

say yes logoHow can we, as a community, turn our education system from an anchor, holding back Buffalo’s growth, into an elevator for the rebirth?

Diverse stakeholders are doing many things, big and small.

The Buffalo Niagara Partnership, in a recent partnership with Say Yes to Education, is helping bring the business community together to expose students to countless new career paths by making meaningful internships and work-study experiences available to Buffalo students.

Community organizations and service providers are slowly coordinating to offer ‘wraparound’ services to an increasing number of students to combat the many out of school factors that students bring into the classroom.

Groups of parents, educators and citizens are coming together to start up charter schools (offering a growing number of quality and diverse educational options,) with different programs, curriculums, and areas of focus.

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BN360’s May Spotlight Professional: Jason Zwara

Finally, news coverage of the education system has been consistently growing and gives an unprecedented look inside Buffalo’s school system.

There are many ways to get involved but the first step, as with so many important issues, is to become informed.

Especially important for education in Buffalo, be sure to vote! School board elections historically have had extremely low turnout, which is extremely troubling for something so important to our community.

So get out there, get informed and get ready to vote when Board elections come around next May.

About the author: Jason Zwara is Buffalo Niagara 360’s May Spotlight Professional. Jason is the Executive Director for Buffalo ReformEd, a local education advocacy non-profit organization. Jason is an alumni of Canisius College, where he is the President of the Buffalo-Niagara alumni chapter.