There’s a fight going on in the Holland Central School district. It’s the same fight being waged in many schools in Erie County: Too many teachers.
The teachers’ union (with the support of some parents) is resisting attempts by the Holland school board – with the support of other parents – to increase student-teacher ratios, especially in those grades with declining enrollment. How much decline is there? Well, the K-12 population of the school is currently 1,258 (last year’s graduating class: 99). Next year’s kindergarten enrollment is currently estimated to be…less than 50. Yet there are 6 kindergarten teachers. Do the math and it is clear that in at least one grade there are probably too many teachers.
In Holland, this is a big issue. It’s not even a blip on the Buffalo Public Schools radar. In a bloated administrative system with an entrenched, uncooperative teachers union, a sense of victimization, isolation and systemic underachievement at all levels, the prospects for even incremental improvement to Buffalo’s public education seem remote. Certainly, the examples set by union/administration feuding do not lend themselves to motivating students; and really, in the long run motivation is what it’s all about: Motivated students will learn under any circumstances.
Holland is one of the most rural towns in Erie County and will spend $13,000 per student and graduate nearly all of them. Buffalo on the other hand, spends upwards of $24,000 per student and will graduate less than half. Holland’s board and the teachers will eventually reach some compromise. Phil Rumore and James Williams will not.
What a tragedy for this area. Most small businesses cannot offer jobs to those with such limited skills and worse, with little or no motivation. The same local businesses starve for prospects because there are not enough skilled workers to go around. And big businesses looking to possibly expand into the region? Well, an educational system ranked at the bottom of the state drives one more nail into that coffin.
Our community’s future is being pissed away by a collectively incompetent group of professionals (and I use that word sarcastically) who appear intent on cutting the throats of the community around them. It has taken us 50 years to get here, and we are guaranteeing at least 20 more years of another uneducated lost generation.
I get tired of watching so much money being thrown down a sewer; and greatly saddened that my analogy seems so appropriate.