BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Community leaders and stakeholders are outraged about proposed changes to the New York State graduation standards temporarily approved by the State Board of Regents.
They fear lowering the requirements is will create more inequities for Black and Brown children and are calling it a “mistake”.
The Regents passed a temporary measure Tuesday that allows students who don’t pass a regents exam to still earn a local diploma.
But local education stakeholders are crying foul, saying too many Buffalo students are not college or career ready and this will exacerbate the problem.
"I'm not for this. I am against this because this is not who I am. This is not what I strive for or what I put into my son,” explained Latrice Martin.
Martin is a Buffalo Public School parent and she appeared with a number of community group members Friday speaking out against the state education department's push to lower high school graduation requirements.
Her son, Israel Wilson, graduated from 8th grade at Public School #81 with a perfect attendance record and as he heads to high school this fall, she says she's outraged at the move to lower standards.
“When you lower the standards, you're lowering my standards for what I have for him,” remarked Martin.
The Regents approved a proposed amendment Tuesday temporarily allowing students who passed course work this school year, but missed or failed the regent's exam due to illness, injury or quarantine can request a special determination to graduate to receive a local not a regents diploma this month.
Bishop Michael Badger says lowering the graduation standards is a "conspiracy" with 75 percent of Buffalo school children graduating who are not college and career ready.
"In my opinion, this is not compassion — it's a conspiracy," Badger stated. “You can't cover up the failure of decades of not preparing Black and Brown children for their careers their higher education."
“You can't teach people how to live and work by lowering the standards,” declared Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Majority Leader, New York State Assembly.
Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes says too many city students leave high school needing remedial classes. She says she told Governor Kathy Hochul Friday lower standards will not work for Buffalo pledging a fight.
“And so to the state education department — this is a mistake — it should not stand and I will do everything within my power to ensure that you do not change the standards to lower people's capacity to be able to live and work in this society," People-Stokes pledged.
The state education department would like to make the standard change permanent for this October and we want to stress, that this would impact schools state-wide.
There is a 60-day public comment period. The New York Equity Coalition is urging the community to sign a petition.