Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Calendar Listings Artvoice TV Real Estate Classifieds Contact
Previous story: See You There!
Next story: The Watch

A Case for Hiring Amber Dixon

Deja vu. How many times will we allow the collectively absurd City of Buffalo Board of Education to make the same mistake before we run them all out of town. We must rid our city of this culture of insanity that has destroyed our family fabric and is the root evil primarily responsible for every social ill we suffer and the flight of the working class to the suburbs. Gang warfare is killing our kids on the streets. What do you think spawned it? Connect the dots.

First it was Superintendent Harris, then it was Williams. A decade-long slide into the abyss. Then, after we spent huge resources fighting off our “rich” elitists who could care less about the kids and fought to keep the status quo, we finally rid the community of the Williams rot and they miraculously appointed Amber Dixon, a talented local lady who is invested in the city, understands the peculiar nuances of the city’s racial and political landscape, and knows what is wrong and where all the bodies are buried.

Nevertheless Dixon has been unable to fire the useless people on the half-wit and conniving executive staff because she is shackled by the intimidating, longtime boardmember Florence Johnson and her cadre of double-talkers.

Remember that Johnson has said that black children should have a black superintendent who will better relate to them. Do we honestly think that boardmembers with her mindset can objectively select the “best” person for the job?

Amber Dixon has many strong supporters in the system and knows that it will take a team effort to reform Buffalo schools and give hope to the 33,482 kids who now have no alternative but to suffer in the most dysfunctional school system in New York State.

Only 26 percent of the students passed the standardized state English test and 31 percent passed the standardized state math test in 2011. New York city schools had double our averages. We are told that 54 percent of Buffalo public school students graduated from high school in 2011. However if a student leaves the school system and claims they will attend night school or try for a GED, they are not included in the overall count, which means the graduation percentage is probably closer to 35 percent.

How sick is that? How bad does it have to get before the lame State Board of Regents intercedes and appoints a special master. Does the wretched Phil Rumore and his teacher’s union have to sign off with Sheldon Silver first? What is wrong with State Education Commissioner John King? Don’t tell us about the law, John. Get a backbone and go to the people to push Sheldon Silver’s incestuous relationship with the teachers union out of the way. Incompetents are abusing kids in Buffalo and you only watch the chaos. The school system’s problems have reached critical mass and the hapless Board of Education is following the same nonsensical process they did in the past to get to a short list for superintendent.

They hired a search company to “see who wanted the job.” Who in their right mind would want this job? Amber Dixon does. She’s been there and done that. She actually cares about the kids and is not looking for a place to land to pick up a paycheck or looking for a stepping stone to another city. We don’t want a person who is leaving his or her current job because he or she failed.

Neither of the two candidates from someplace else has any actual experience as a superintendent. Pam Brown, the candidate from Philadelphia, was the top deputy for Philadelphia’s impotent Superintendent Charlene Ackerman, who took a $1 million buyout after running the district into the ground and then filed for unemployment. Even Ackerman, as bad as she was, was so frustrated with Brown’s inability to function that she demoted Brown at least twice. Furthermore, Brown had applied for the superintendent’s job in Youngstown, Ohio, Joliet, Illinois, and last month in West Bloomfield, Michigan. Brown was turned down by each. The district in Michigan is no bigger than Sloan, a fraction of Buffalo’s school system.

Brown has all the Ivy League credentials on paper but in the real world she’s an out-of-touch elitist who can’t get out of her own way. Who vetted her? The job is about management, implementation, and leadership, not trial-and-error theory. We can hire professionals for their expertise. Brown offers no track record or history or specifics of what she will do. It will take her two years to figure out the playing field. Our children have waited long enough. Why would we even consider taking the risk?

The board has a $965,000,000 budget. Deduct the $80,000,000 allocated to charters and they have $885,000,000, which they disgracefully spend denying a reasonable education to 33,482 children. That is $26,482/child/ year. How sick is that? The tuition at Nichols is $20,000/ year. We can afford to hire the best consultants. We have previously hired unfit people for no good reason other than they were black and from someplace else. Why?

The community must rise up and demand that Amber Dixon be appointed the next superintendent and that our Albany legislative delegation be enlightened, at least for one moment, to demand legislation that will allow the State Board of Regents to terminate our Board of Education and appoint a Special Master.

> Carl Paladino, Buffalo

Artvoice reserves the right to edit letters for content and length. Shorter letters have a better chance at being published in their entirety. Please include your name, hometown, and contact number. E-mail letters to: or write to: Artvoice Letters, 810 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14202

blog comments powered by Disqus