Across New York State, White students were given nearly twice as much access as their Latino and Black peers to a range of key courses in middle and high school in the 2016-17 school year. They were nearly three times as likely to be enrolled in advanced courses like Advanced Placement Math and Science. In Niagara Falls City School District in 2016-17, for example, Black and Latino students represented 43% of total enrollment in schools that offer an AP/IB math and science course, but only 16% of enrollment in those AP/IB math and science courses. How should the Niagara Falls school board address the issue of equitable access to advanced courses?
“Any student meeting the requirements to enroll in advanced courses should be enrolled in those courses, regardless of the cost involved.”
New York State has expanded the ways students can earn a high school diploma. These new rules can provide multiple pathways for students to demonstrate college and career readiness. But they can also be used to “track” students of color, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities into less rigorous coursework and lower graduation standards. How should the Niagara Falls school board address the issue of making sure the high school diploma has real value for all students?
“Niagara Falls students need expanded curriculum choices. I propose NFCSD start a Pre-BOCES skilled trades curriculum in 9th grade. Currently we send students to BOCES in 11th grade, which is far too late. We need to bring back JROTC, to allow our students to follow a military path. I believe all students need a course that teaches independent living (budgeting, leases, laundry, etc.) But the current make-up of the forced state/federal standards and standardized testing doesn’t allow for this. Perhaps if educatrs were allowed to teach and not TEST, our students would have a more fulfilling school experience.”
New York State’s school districts provide relatively little difference in budgeted per-pupil funding between their schools, regardless of the student populations each school serves, as opposed to providing schools serving the highest share of high-need low-income students greater levels of resources. How should the Niagara Falls school board allocate the resources that it controls?
“Currently, there is no legislation in Albany addressing the discrepancy in funding. Before any spending decisions are made, this financial discrimination must be addressed by the legislature. A ‘sound basic education’ looks far different in Williamsville, Orchard Park, and Clarence than it does in Niagara Falls. When NYSED bases the formulas on an Income Wealth Index, the poorer districts get less funding, When the IWI falls below 65%, that percentage is still used to determine the funding. For richer districts, they get the expanded choices. Niagara Falls gets to pay the light bill.”
One-third of all New York State schools had no Latino or Black teachers in the 2015-16 school year. As a result, more than 115,000 Latino and Black students were enrolled in schools without a single full-time same-race/ethnicity teacher, and nearly half of the state’s White students attended schools without a single full-time Latino or Black teachers. In Niagara Falls City School District, 41% students were Latino or Black in 2015-16, compared to 7% of teachers. How should the Niagara Falls school board address the issue of improving access to strong, well-supported, and diverse educators?
“Seriously? With a massive teacher shortage here, I am concerned with finding applicants with degrees and licenses to fill the positions now! This question is out of touch with the reality of massive staffing shortages.”
New York State schools suspended a student at least once every minute during the 2016-17 school year. During that period, New York’s education system suspended Black students at more than four times the rate of White students outside of New York City. At the high school level, for example, Niagara Falls City School District suspended 58% of Black male students in 2016-17. How should the Niagara Falls school board address school discipline, including the racial disparities in how schools suspend students?
“We have a youth court which has cut down (this year) on the number of students suspended. It is peer intervention in place of suspension. It works.”