BPS addressing diversity differences between teachers, students

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — “Tell me your story.” That’s what Dr. Kriner Cash, the Buffalo Public Schools superintendent wants teachers and administrators to ask students.

“The student teacher relationship is a very important relationship,” said Dr. Cash.

The district’s leader says he learned something early after meeting his wife – a saying she and her mother, both educators, would say.

“They would say, ‘Put a high price tag on yourself and never go on sale.’ I feel like sometimes we put children of color on clearance.”

The superintendent – who runs the district where more 9 out of 10 enrolled students are culturally diverse – says he never wants a child to feel like that anywhere but especially while in school. After doing some research, the district found there tends to be a racial difference between teachers and students. The superintendent says 85% of teachers and administrators are Caucasian versus the 90% of students who come from diverse backgrounds.

The superintendent believes the cultural differences contribute to the high suspension rates. For long term suspensions, six days or more, this year, there have been 697 students suspended; that’s versus 860 last year. For short term suspensions, one to five days out of school, 3893 students have been suspended this year; up from the 3806 last year in the same time frame.

“It’s too much and it’s showing a lack of understanding.”

The superintendent believes that bridging the gap will bring many changes, including increasing attendance rates, which continue to sit low.

For elementary school students, 42.33% have satisfactory attendance; 35.71% of secondary students have satisfactory rates.

“It’ll all be a byproduct of us having better relationships with one another.”

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