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Sampson Responds to Seals Nevergold, Johnson

Buffalo School Board Member James M. Sampson responds to Barbara Seals Nevergold and Florence Johnson’s letter concerning the new school board majority. Carl Paladino responded here.

James M. Sampson

James M. Sampson


Once again we are witnessing adults wanting to fight over issues that are only tangentially related to our collective responsibility to educate the students of this city. The letter from Barbara Nevergold and Florence Johnson once again strives to place blame, point fingers and avoid responsibility. They postulate that if only the Buffalo News did not pursue its journalistic responsibilities or the NYS Education Department did not exercise its regulatory authority, the district would somehow be better equipped to educate children and provide high quality options and equality. By engaging in a debate about who said what to whom, we again miss the mark.   It is time to end the fighting, feigned indignation, drama and chaos.  

Nevergold and Johnson take exception to me meeting with SED Commissioner John King. It seems as though their greatest concern is that I did not ask their blessing and permission or consult with the Board of Education. They of course lament that over the past year they were not able to arrange a meeting with him. Even though I was on the board over the past year I cannot speak to this apparent inability to arrange a meeting.

I was not representing the board when I traveled to Albany and at no time did I purport to. It certainly was not a secret meeting. Although I have no obligation to talk about our meeting, I would be happy to if the current majority provided the opportunity. The district did not pay my expenses incurred for the trip. There was no agenda and I did not walk away with any “deals.” I did however walk away with a better understanding of SED and Dr. King, his motivations and passion to create educational equity for all students throughout New York State. Anytime that we are able to develop productive relationships with organizations and people who can positively impact the educational experiences for Buffalo children, it should be celebrated, not faulted.

Over the next year, as the drama and chaos fades, I hope the district becomes known for its predictability, dependability and commitment to educational equality and opportunity for all children.



  • caresforkids

    In researching education coverage in ArtVoice going back several years, I read a lengthy article on former superintendent Williams that highlighted the same concerns that exist in the BCSD today – a focus on politics, adult issues, conflict and blame. One might conjecture that regardless of who holds the superintendent title, that there are endemic issues preventing the system from moving forward in a more student-focused manner. Positive change that will benefit our children can only arise if the elected officials establish a collaborative culture, work with the unions and the staff, support the superintendent’s success and move the children’s interest to the forefront. I do not know you Mr. Sampson, but your words impress me as someone that understands this and has the temperament and skills to help move things in a more positive direction. I hope you and the Board succeed. Our students deserve to see leaders as positive role models, problem solvers and builders of their future success.

  • rastamaniac

    It’s the height of disingenuousness for Sampson to pretend his meeting with King was on the level. Sampson until recently served as President of Buffalo Reform Ed’s Board.The group is rabidly pro charter and equally rabid in it’s anti teacher union stances. Sampson was also a trustee of West Buffalo Charter School and may be still. To pretend that he and King don’t share the anti public school, pro charter school agenda is nothing less than a bold print lie. King’s so called educational experience (3 yrs, 2 less than the minimum required for the position but what’s a legal requirement when you have friends right?) was spent almost exclusively in charter schools. His endless support of them and his attacks on public schools, teachers and their unions have been the steady drumbeat he was hired to pound away at.Yes he was hired and given orders and in spite of the reality that he’s served as a faithful stooge to Cuomo it didn’t stop Andrew from tossing him and Tisch under the bus last week blaming them for the fiasco that Common Core has beeen. Cuomo’s educational favoritism to charters and his repulsively cozy relationship with the hedge funders who operate them is well documented. When he tried to sneak off to the Adirondacks for a weekend getaway sponsored by Democrats for Ed Reform he had to scupper the plans cause the unions, parents and media got wind of it. He did send a video and recently another one apologizing to his campaign contributor ed reformers that he didn’t make their little get together. James Sampson is going to work against the teachers, the public schools and teacher unions to bring as many privatized, non union, CEO led charters as he can possibly muster. That’s the goal. Don’t kid yourself that he and Paladino are looking to do anything beyond expand the influence of charters in Buffalo at the expense of public education. They already have out of town players here looking to cash in before the Board has even turned over.