Buffalo shows turnaround of urban schools is possible, but it takes a lot more than just money

Amadou Diallo::

Although Say Yes’s allure of free college tuition was immediately obvious in a city where 54 percent of children live in poverty, many initially viewed the program with skepticism. Dedecker, who was instrumental in bringing the program to Buffalo, recalled low expectations at the outset from almost everyone.

“One of the most common statements I heard when I was meeting with all the stakeholders,” Dedecker said, “was ‘This will never work here.’ Because people just didn’t get along. There was so much acrimony and such a history of distrust and malfunction.”

Among those who held little hope for success was Samuel Radford, president of the Buffalo Schools District Parent Coordinating Council. “I came to Say Yes as a skeptic,” he said, noting previous broken promises to fix the city’s schools. “In Buffalo we’d had 25 percent graduation rates for African-American males for the last 50 years. Can you imagine the devastation to a community … year after year after year?”

Buffalo’s 2017-2018 Budget is $930,000,000 for 34,000
Students or 27k (!) per student.