Report Finds Major Improvements at CUNY
June of 1999, the Mayor’s Task Force on the City University of
New York, led by Benno Schmidt, released a study that criticized
CUNY for high levels of remediation and low college graduation
rates. Now, in June of 2001, a new report finds vast improvements
in these areas thanks to the prescription laid out by Schmidt—increased
collaboration between the public schools and higher education.
The Schmidt report described the system as “an institution adrift.”
It found both the public schools and CUNY responsible for low
student performance and called on them to work together to address
these and other shortcomings.
The new report, “Building a Highway to Higher Ed,” issued by the
Center for an Urban Future, a Manhattan-based think tank, finds
that over the past 16 months, the city has become a national leader,
implementing more collaborative programming than any other city
of comparable size.
The report describes the new collaborative model as P-16 programming,
an approach that links all levels of education from pre-kindergarten
through college graduation or “the 16th grade.” In the past year
and a half, New York has become one of the most active P-16 cities
in the nation: making collaboration between the two school systems
a major priority, revamping teacher education, aligning Regents
tests with CUNY placement exams and creating eight Middle College
High Schools based at CUNY campuses.
The report attributes much of the current success to vastly improved
relations between the CUNY and public school chancellors. “The
typical communication between CUNY and the public schools has
been one of finger-pointing, and [it has] never approached the
level of collaboration we have found this past year,” said Neil
Scott Kleiman, director of the Center for an Urban Future. “These
are two systems that have long been dominated by ego, hubris and
politics. What we found is a major shift—an admission of shared
responsibility for the city’s educational failings and a willingness
to work together to fix it.”
While New York is ahead of the P-16 curve, there is much more
to be done to make sure the city continues to implement this promising
type of programming. The Center recommends the establishment of
a P-16 funding compact, the inclusion of private colleges and
universities and the monitoring of progress at the state level.
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