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President Giordano Featured in the Buffalo News: Another Voice: “All of WNY has a stake in success of Buffalo schools”

By March 14, 2022Press Release

The Buffalo Public Schools district is in transition after a terribly difficult month capping an enormously challenging two years. As someone who works closely with the district, I look forward to the leadership of interim superintendent Tonja Williams.

Yet, we should take this moment as a reminder that no one person, no single group of people, can easily improve outcomes in a district as large and multifaceted as Buffalo’s. And improving student outcomes in Buffalo should be a major priority for everyone in Western New York, no matter where you live. The future of our region depends on it.

We are witnessing real momentum in sectors like health care, technology, advanced manufacturing and filmmaking, all of which depend on a well-educated and well-trained workforce. There is some value in attracting outside talent to these positions, but the primary source for talent must be local.

While many suburban districts send students to out-of-town colleges that eventually lead to out-of-town employment, Buffalo’s graduates overwhelmingly stay here. With the influx of new Buffalonians, the city’s population is growing for the first time in decades. This growing population will need first-rate educational and employment opportunities to thrive. In turn, our region will only truly take off if the people who live here are the ones who benefit from dynamic new industrial development.

This means that, if you live in Clarence, you need Buffalo Public Schools to succeed. It’s the same if you live in East Aurora. Moreover, you should want to be part of the systems change in our region to help ensure that happens.

Working together, we can dismantle policies and practices that put our city school students at competitive disadvantages and we can pursue visionary initiatives that intentionally build bridges from city schools to postsecondary credentialing to industry employment.

At Villa Maria College, where I serve as president, we recently launched certificate credentialing programs in fields such as computer software development and film production that complement our traditional undergraduate programs. Our intent is to provide an array of educational pathways for our students, many who come from city schools, into these emerging industries that lead to meaningful employment.

I am deeply heartened by what I see happening elsewhere in our community, as well, including M&T’s Tech Academy, TechBuffalo, Northland Workforce Training Center, Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s work in career pathways, Buffalo Prep and Say Yes Buffalo, all of which aim to build up local talent, especially from our underserved urban communities, to take advantage of new career opportunities in Buffalo.

There is still much to be done, including linking existing programming more directly to individual schools, but the right path is unfolding. While Williams must lead the process, all of us have important roles to play, together.

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