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Samuel Radford helps parents lead charge for change in Buffalo Public Schools JULIE PHILIPP | DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE Updated 2:43 p.m. EDT June 7, 2018

How an advocate made a difference in Buffalo schools Sam Radford led a parent's group to produce a proactive 14-point plan and eventually organized a school boycott to bring attention to the issues. OLIVIA LOPEZ

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Activist and organizer Samuel L. Radford III is president of the District Parent Coordinating Council (DPCC) of BuJalo, a group that strives to build partnerships between parents and the BuJalo School District. The organization advocates for public school reform in that city, and Radford has become a well-known voice for change.

What got you going? To change something, the people who are aJected by it have to lead the change. We felt that, as parents, if we sent our children to failing schools and we knew they were failing schools — they’ve been failing for years — we were complicit. We were just as responsible for the problem as everybody we were blaming. We said it was educational neglect to send our children to schools that we knew were failing.

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Samuel L. Radford III is president of the District Parenting Coordinating Council in Buffalo. OLIVIA LOPEZ/@OLOPEZ4/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

What was your strategy? Early on, so much of what we were doing was reactive. We were constantly reacting to things going on in the district, reacting to things happening to our children. But, anytime you are dealing with the status quo, you know, it doesn’t move just because you want it to move. We were not making any progress. Finally, in 2011, we decided to put together a proactive plan, to say exactly

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what we wanted done for our children. We called it the Plan for Maximizing Parent Engagement. We took it to the Board of Education and asked them to respond. They gave us all the reasons it wouldn’t work, and why they weren’t going to do it.

How did you react to this setback? On May 3, 2011, we had a meeting with our legislators, Board of Education

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members, and the superintendent and we said, “Listen, what is going on with our children? Why can’t our children get a quality education?” We were not satis_ed with their answers. So on May 16, we held a boycott to draw attention to the fact that the vast majority of our kids were in failing schools and there was no real plan to do anything about it. About 62 percent of parents did not send their children to school that day. All of a sudden, things started to change.

Did you have any support? We had been _ghting for a while, so we had people who were allies. But we did not have anything concrete for them to participate in. Once we came up with a plan for people to do something speci_c, then people could join in. On the day of the boycott, we asked our parents not to send their children to

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school. But, we said we want you to send your children to something educational. We don’t want them to sit home. The churches and community centers opened up, and we used those sites to provide kids academic enrichment during that day.

What have you accomplished? Our Maximizing Parent Engagement Plan had 14 points that we wanted to achieve. Eleven of those points have been achieved, and we are well on the way for the last three. I’ve been active since 1990, and I say to parents, there has never been a better time to be a parent in BuJalo public schools. Things are going in the right direction, we have a clear strategy.

What are your biggest challenges when it comes to organizing parents? https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/local/communitie…-buffalo-public-schools-parents-education-reform/645583002/

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What are your biggest challenges when it comes to organizing parents? In the beginning, it was no problem mobilizing parents. They could come together for an event. But, if nothing happened and we didn’t change anything, it just decated people and our credibility was at risk. We learned the hard way that you have to do a whole bunch of research and strategic planning before you make parents part of the detailed process. You have to have a clear pathway to victory. If you don’t give parents a clear picture about what you are _ghting for, you will lose them. Second, most of our parents had children that went to a school outside their own neighborhood. I don’t have a conspiracy theory, and I’m not saying this was intentional, but the perfect strategy for keeping parents from organizing is to separate them all. Keep them from living in the same neighborhood where they are around each other. If they go to the same school, same block club, same community center, same church and they’ll start to organize. It is hard to organize people who don’t have much in common. Finally, we had parents _ghting other parents. One parent might want public

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schools, another parent might want choices, others want private or charter schools, some want homeschooling. We were all _ghting about what was best, and it was a huge distraction. What we learned is that every parent is right when it comes to their own child. Most parents think that what is “good for my child is good for your child.” But, you don’t get to decide that. All children deserve a top-quality education, and parents deserve to be supported. It took maturity to get to this point.

What are you most proud of? We did not give up. There have been losses over the years, but people stayed together and something changed. There is a spirit of hopefulness moving through our community, and I know for sure it wasn’t here before. People are hopeful. People expect their children to go to college. People know if there is a problem, they can do something about it.

More from Time to Educate https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/local/communitie…-buffalo-public-schools-parents-education-reform/645583002/

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More from Time to Educate

Search for solutions: Can Indianapolis be a model for Rochester? Democrat and Chronicle education reporter Justin Murphy looks at innovation schools in Indianapolis and why their approach to school reform has gained national attention. MAX SCHULTE

Something. Something. Something.Must. Must. Must.Change. Change. Change.The The Thesearch search searchfor for forsolutions solutions solutionsto to toaaafailed failed failedschool school school system system systemstarts starts startsnow now now Why Why Whyare are areRochester Rochester Rochesterschools schools schoolsAmerica's America's America'sworst? worst? worst?Study Study StudyKodak Kodak KodakPark Park ParkSchool School School 41 41 41 Raise Your Hand: What What Whateducation education educationquestions questions questionsdo do doyou you youwant want wantus us usto to to investigate? investigate? investigate? Decades Decades Decadesof of oflegal legal legalsegregation segregation segregationshape shape shapeRochester Rochester Rochestercity city cityschools schools schoolstoday today today Why Why Whysome some somethink think think(wrongly) (wrongly) (wrongly)only only only9% 9% 9%of of ofRochester's Rochester's Rochester'sblack black blackmales males malesgraduate graduate graduate

https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/local/communitie‌-buffalo-public-schools-parents-education-reform/645583002/

Something. Must. Change. The search for solutions to a failed school system starts now

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Originally Published 1:29 p.m. EDT June 6, 2018 Updated 2:43 p.m. EDT June 7, 2018

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Rochester's parents must lead the crusade to 2x a failed school district EDITORIAL BOARD | DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE 7:44 a.m. EDT June 9, 2018

How an advocate made a difference in Buffalo schools Sam Radford led a parent's group to produce a proactive 14-point plan and eventually organized a school boycott to bring attention to the issues. OLIVIA LOPEZ

https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/local/communities‌cate-rochester-parents-fix-school-district-editorial/685953002/

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Her children attended schools in the Rochester City School District. Now, her grandchildren are enrolled in city schools. Advertisement

“I used to go to all the parent groups when my kids were there, but I got too frustrated,” the woman told a member of our Editorial Board. “Nothing has changed in two decades.”

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Samuel L. Radford III is president of the District Parenting Coordinating Council in Buffalo. OLIVIA LOPEZ/@OLOPEZ4/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Another parent told us her son is about to Onish 8th grade. She does not want him to go to high school in the city. She repeatedly called a local suburban district, asking whomever answered the phone if she could send her boy there instead. Recently, the district’s high school principal returned her call. “The principal called. Can you believe that? He said, ‘You must really want your child to go here’,” she said, beaming. “And he’s going!” Advertisement - continue reading below

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Lake Street Dive Thurs June 28, 8pm It is deplorable that, for far too many families, the choice comes down to giving up hope or leaving. America’s public education system is supposed to educate all its children. Not just all its white children. Not just all its middle class and wealthy children. Not just all its English-speaking children. Not just all its children whose parents are educated. It is supposed to

educate all its children.

A third choice As BuXalo parent advocate Samuel Radford, whom we spoke with for our Time to Educate project, says, “To change something, the people who are a<ected by it have to lead the change.” MORE: MORE: MORE:Q&A Q&A Q&Awith with withSamuel Samuel SamuelL. L. L.Radford, Radford, Radford,III III III No one is more aXected by our failing public schools than the families who are part of the Rochester City School District. About half of its students don’t ever earn a diploma, and those who do are not necessarily prepared to pursue an advanced degree or a decent-paying job. This has been going on for multiple generations. The devastating impact it is having on our entire community is becoming increasingly clear. We must help empower you to take charge of the change.

The voices of change One of Time to Educate’s top priorities is to connect with families in the

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Rochester City School District in unprecedented ways. The Democrat and MORE: Q&A with Samuel L. Radford, III Chronicle’s engagement team and our Editorial Board will be working hard to elevate your voices, and we will rely on you to help guide our search for potential solutions.

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In turn, we will help answer your questions, provide you with the information and research you need to press forward, and advocate loudly and clearly for the solutions you want. To begin, we invite parents to participate in our initial Raise Raise RaiseYour Your YourHand Hand Hand feature. We want to know what questions you have about our education system, so we can begin investigating some of them. This is just a start. We will be asking many other questions. We will be in your neighborhoods, listening. We will be hosting and joining events. We are partnering with many community organizations. We have had initial conversations with the Latino radio station, Poder 97.1, and we plan to hire at least one Spanish-speaking Time to Educate team member. We invite you to summon up a little hope and get involved. Ask your question about our education system below.

Raise Your Hand

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What questions do you have about education in the Rochester area that you think we should investigate?

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Your contact info We'll be in touch if we look into your question. Name Email address Zip Code

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Samuel L Radford: Leader in Parent Advocacy  

An advocate for empowering parents to lead in the fight for improved public education.

Samuel L Radford: Leader in Parent Advocacy  

An advocate for empowering parents to lead in the fight for improved public education.

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