The Buffalo School District has falling graduation rates, and now, a Buffalo pastor wants his colleagues to help fix the problem.
"Why now? Why this call to action?" asked Kelly Dudzik.
"Buffalo has big hearts. The unfortunate part is we often see it during tragedies. This is a tragedy," says Pastor Darius Pridgen.
Pridgen says the failure of the majority of Buffalo's public school students to graduate high school is in a crisis stage.
"I talked to a young lady today. She's been a senior now three years over one test. One test. How do you do that? You tell me I could pass everything else, but if I don't pass this one thing, I never graduate. Where do you think her life leads if she never gets this done?" asks Pridgen.
"How do you come up with a solution, and a solution that will work and provide results and get these kids to graduate?" asked Dudzik.
"You know, I think that this is multifaceted. I don't believe there is one solution to it all," says Pridgen.
Pridgen tells us the only way to fix the problem once and for all is for the entire community to come together, starting with religious leaders.
"The superintendent says she has a plan. We need to hear that plan as pastors so that there are things that our congregants need to be doing in order to make sure that our children are being properly educated we have to do that. Some will say, well, it's just another meeting. I disagree. You never get change if you don't have a conversation first," says Pridgen.
Pridgen says the students and their parents also have to be part of the solution.
"If you can't get a grown man or woman to see that a child needs to be in school, and you keep that child home, that's child neglect, and somebody has to be adult enough to say it. But, if that's not our priority in our community, they don't say it. They allow it to happen. And that becomes our norm. And then, what else becomes the norm? Poverty becomes the norm. And, what else? Homelessness. And what else? Drug use. What else? I could keep going on. Illegal activity. We all end up paying for it in the end," he says.
He also criticized a system that focuses on test scores and data, and added that if the community focuses on building up the medical corridor, and neglects education, Buffalo Public School students will not be the ones filling those high paying jobs when they enter the workforce.
"The unfortunate part is the doctors and the nurses and the researchers will not come from this community. So, if we don't see that as a problem, then we have actually missed the boat," says Pridgen.
Pridgen has reached out to other pastors, and will meet with them next month along with the superintendent and the school board.
He says even if a few children benefit from whatever solution they come up with, it's better than doing nothing at all.