Battle is joined on Buffalo school reform

Jim Heaney, in his latest column for City & State, provides his take on the reform agenda being advanced by the new majority on the Board of Education.

Heaney, who formerly covered Buffalo schools in the 1990s when he was a reporter for The Buffalo News, said he’s struck by the majority’s top priority: contract changes that would enable the district to assign the best teachers to the worst performing schools.

He wrote:

In Buffalo, as in many districts, that’s a challenge, because of seniority clauses in labor contracts. As a result, veteran teachers gravitate to the better schools, while greener teachers end up in struggling ones …

It’s not just the contract that has to change; it’s the district’s culture, which puts the needs of its employees first. I covered the district in the mid- to late-1990s and came to view it as not a board of education but rather a board of adult employment.

Heaney, editor of Investigative Post, also provides insight into the board’s changing cast of characters. While Carl Paladino might grab the  headlines because of his theatrics, Heaney said board newcomer Larry Quinn is a much more substantive player and already exercising a lot of influence behind the scenes.

Heaney lauded the appointment of Don Ogilvie as superintendent, writing:

I have dealt with him on and off for years and he is a good fit for the task at hand. A great fit, actually.

Heaney’s previous column for City & State, on Buffalo’s uneven recovery, can be found here.