AFP Takes a Victory Lap

AFP’s Victory Lap in Clarence

It takes a lot to get me to join something. Between work, my kids’ school and afterschool activities, time is not a luxury. But I became a joiner last week. 

I have joined hundreds of other dedicated and concerned taxpayer-parents of current, future, and former Clarence school students, who have united not just to maintain, but to improve, the quality of Clarence schools. You can find us at, and we’re putting our names behind our effort. We aren’t funded, advised, or otherwise working with any union, special interest group, or lobbying organization anywhere – especially not Albany or DC.

On May 21st, an overwhelming majority of voters rejected the Clarence Board of Education’s proposed 2013-2014 budget, which contained a school tax hike of 9.8%. Because of that defeat, several more dedicated, professional educators will be summarily and unceremoniously fired. The district is losing its last social worker. Several sports programs will be eliminated. We aren’t happy about this outcome, but we accept it. We’re going to make sure that the upcoming revote budget does as little harm to the students as possible. We certainly don’t see anything about which to gloat or cheer. 

Our group extends its thanks and best wishes to the teachers, librarians, and staff who will soon find themselves out of work. We know that budget cuts aren’t just abstract theory, but that they affect real people and their futures. Make no mistake – these cuts will adversely affect the quality of the education Clarence’s children receive. What is there to applaud? 

We had hoped that people would see past the slick propaganda, and would vote to maintain the quality of the schools for current and future generations. The schools have undergone many cuts in the last decade, and simply aren’t what they used to be. Thanks to prior years’ cuts, there’s no marching band, no enrichment program, music and art programs have been reduced, and with the most recent round of cuts we’re looking at larger class sizes and elimination of freshman sports and half of of the modified sports programs.  Reduced opportunity benefits no one. Where’s the good news? 

And when is it enough? While we should be discussing how Clarence can regain the #1 spot in Business First’s rankings, we’re scapegoating teachers and harming students’ opportunities. The district’s spending is well under control, and administrative costs represent 6% of the budget.  The truth is that  the district is already run efficiently – “like a business” – and we won’t ever cut our way to excellence.

But if the rejection of the budget and the loss of dedicated teachers and staffers had one silver lining, it’s that we’re awake now; energized to ensure that the excellent Clarence schools our kids deserve aren’t just maintained, but improved.

We think the schools are sustainable already; they’ve been sustainable this whole time. The cutting, however, is unsustainable.

As taxpayers, we demand value for our money, and the Clarence schools are the best value in WNY. We get Cadillac quality for the cost of a Chevy, and we won’t have our schools hijacked by a phantom group claiming bipartisan “concern” for our students’ educations, while spending tens of thousands of dollars to do them harm. Don’t presume or pretend to be on the side of the schools or the students if you’re not.

Above, you see another slick insert included with everyone’s issue of the Clarence Bee this week. It is a victory lap – gloating over the firing of teachers, over the reduction in programs for our schoolkids; cheering higher class sizes and fewer resources. Applauding a curriculum that provides fewer opportunities for current students. Who died and made our local AFP stooge the queen of the schools? What election did she win to give her the right to dance on top of the rubble she helped create? Look at that flyer – as if the phony bipartisanship wasn’t enough of a lie – she has the chutzpah; the gall; the unmitigated shamelessness to presume that she is on the same side as the taxpayer parents whose kids now have to make do with less than her kids had to. To say this is appalling and classless is an insult to appalling classlessness. 

By improving the quality of the schools, you protect your investment – your tax investment, and your investment in your own home. Great schools make a great community. 

We’re your neighbors. We’re your friends. We pay taxes, too. We’re awake now, and we’re just getting started. 



  • Holy crap. As much as I abhor what that woman and the AFP are doing, I have to say that flyer is very well done from a writing standpoint. The language used is very effective — it’s not backed by facts at all, but many people won’t notice because it’s so inclusive and soothing. “Look what we did, we’re all special, let’s work together” is the tone, with the undertone of “if you’re not with us, you’re against us.” “Modest reductions,” “preserving music and sports” — oh, yes, this is the snake in the garden. And people will fall for it. Makes me shudder.

    As for your piece, I couldn’t agree with this line more: “To say this is appalling and classless is an insult to appalling classlessness.” I know I keep saying this, but I can’t understand why this group has targeted Clarence. It’s sickening to think that this is a test case and that they will start spreading this garbage around the country.

    • Clarence is low-hanging fruit for the tea party. It’s an overwhelmingly Republican town, and even the people who aren’t overtly Republican consider themselves to be “conservative”.

      Unfortunately, we don’t have a boatload of money or a warren of PR professionals at our disposal, so we’re up late and up early trying to un-destroy the school system.

      • I hate it. My niece is at CHS, one of my nephews is headed there next year, one is at the MS, and three more are in the elementary schools. They’re all musicians and athletes, as well as being very smart, and it kills me to think of all they’re going to miss out on. Good luck with everything you’re doing.

      • Alan,

        You know that this whole thing is about to be flushed down the memory hole, the collective attention span being what it is. It’s going to take repeated reminders to the “We, the People” about what happened here and who is responsible. Moreover, this is a far-flung strategy aimed at retooling the national consciousness regarding the terms of the debate. Facts do not matter any more, mantras do; slogans over substance.

        Someone has to track school districts in the following areas:

        1. Budget making
        2. School Board Candidates and their platforms
        3. %age of voters who are senior citizens
        4. The sudden appearance of campaign style, mass produced literature
        5. Exchanges appearing in the commentary sections of newspapers
        6. Vigilance that the letter of the law is followed leading up to budget votes

        This should be done full time by watchdog groups and with the realization that this is a conflict in its infant stages.

        During the Wisconsin Crisis, I made it a point to speak to my younger colleagues about what a Walker victory would mean to teachers all over the country, especially with the likes of Obama and Duncan shilling for Gates and his pals. One of my colleagues, still wet behind the ears said, “The sky isn’t falling.”

        That made me think: Why does it take a disaster for people to prepare for a disaster?

        The sky fell in Clarence and it’s not done falling.

  • Those diverse stock footage child actors at the top sure seem happy about austerity. #Blessed

  • Very similar approach to the corporate privatizers who try to sell unwitting parents on “parent trigger laws.” The catch is once parents vote to close the school and allow some McCharter chain to come in they are kindly invited to STFU and get out of the way. Charters have Boards and CEOs. When was the least time any CEO asked a member of the community for advice? Oh and your kid may or may not be accepted and upon acceptance may or may not be retained. The charters are not so much on those icky non English, learning disabled and emotionally troubled kids. Nor do they tend to advocate on behalf of kids whose standardized test scores aren’t very good. They roll in claiming to care all about parents and kids and in the end their agenda includes neither. Wonder who this Koch Brothers front group is REALLY representing? If you tell me Clarence taxpayers I have a nice swamp you can buy and build a law library in it.

  • Q — Is your association what some would call a “special interest group”?
    A — It’s never a “special interest group” if I agree with it.

  • Maybe if Clarence had increased taxes 1% a year instead of no increase for 5 years things would be different. Nobody is going to fight a small increase.

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