There may still be Halloween candy around the house, and Thanksgiving is still a couple of weeks away, but many parents are already beginning to think about where their child will attend school next year. For many parents, this is a big decision, and rightly so. After all, where you go to school matters. It can affect many outcomes - What middle or high school will my child attend? Will they be prepared for college? Will they have a strong sense of values and purpose to guide their adult life choices? A strong partnership between families and schools can set the stage for a child to live a fulfilling and successful life. While it may have its detractors, the truth is that school choice exists because it is about self-determination, community identity, and the right fit for each child.
The “American Dream” tells us that success is within reach for all of us, it is simply a matter of working hard enough and playing by the rules. This idea of “pulling yourself up by the bootstraps” is nonsense - it is physically impossible to do. The phrase itself originated in the 19th century and persists in the American psyche because we pass these messages along to our children in traditional school settings.
The truth is that life outcomes in the United States are largely defined by your starting line, and not everyone’s is the same. To build successful, self-determined lives, many of us need support. Schools have a role to play here - as America wrestles with our legacies, some which are difficult and painful, many are starting to ask, “what role do schools play in creating a more racially and socioeconomically just country?” ” At Buffalo Commons, we believe the answer to that question is one where schools play a large role in moving the needle for equity. By ensuring that every child has the skills, tools, and support they need and deserve to live a self-determined life, students at Commons are given an opportunity to develop an enduring sense of belonging and purpose.
Schools are part of the connective tissue of our community. So, not only what school you go to matters, but who you go to school with matters. Unfortunately, Buffalo’s schools overwhelmingly follow the patterns of our city’s residential segregation along lines of socio-economics, race, and home language. There is a long, ingrained history of acceptance of this status quo arrangement. What is new, however, is the broader awareness and understanding that systemic change needs to happen if we want different outcomes for students and families of our beloved city. Solutions that include, and even start with, education.
The truth is that Buffalo needs more strong schools with a diverse student body. Back in the ’70s and ’80s, Buffalo offered parents the opportunity to create diverse school communities. Two interesting things happened: first, student performance improved across the board and, second, 85% of families chose integrated schools. Today, Buffalo continues to be a diverse district, but 7 out of 10 students attend segregated schools. Yet, we know that attending socioeconomically and racially diverse schools provides a multitude of benefits for students of all backgrounds. Buffalo Commons commits to active diversity that goes well beyond demographics. It’s the freedom for every student to truly be themselves. The Commons community identity is one where every child realizes their unique talents, understands those talents are needed in the world—and opens the door to understand how each of us can become a force for common good.
Finding the Right Fit
Children have different strengths, and learn in many different ways, but often large school districts take a one-size fits all approach to teaching and learning. The truth is that school choice allows parents to match their children with school programs that align to their individual needs and values. BCCS students come from a wide variety of backgrounds, but as graduates, they’ll have some important things in common…
Exceptional Academic Skills
Teachers use timeless and relevant techniques to support students' learning, leverage core content, make meaning critically, and use their skills to creatively solve comp