Mentoring USA :
Filling The Gap In Supplemental Education Program
We know half of New York City high school classes graduate within four years and only 70% of our youth receive high school diplomas. New Yorkers are hopeful that with the leadership of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein, the results of the restructuring of the education system and the new policies being implemented will be a great improvement.
Chancellor Klein and the Department of Education are setting new academic goals and standards in compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The Department of Education named 487 public schools as Title One schools under the new law. A Title One school is a school that has failed to meet set test score requirements for at least two consecutive years. Of these 487 public schools, 331 are in New York City.
The No Child Left Behind Act requires that all states set academic goals for all schools within their municipalities. The aim of the newly restructured act is to help students who are disadvantaged and underachieving to improve their reading and math test scores. All states are required to test students annually in grades three to eight, by the 2005-2006 school year. As required by federal law, each state must set its own standards and implement its own tests. Ultimately, states must meet proficiency requirements within 12 years.
The New York City Department of Education created a Supplemental Education Services program for the Title One schools identified. This service informs the parents about transferring the child to another school, and they are given a directory of New York City providers for tutoring services within their districts. However, because of the great amount of schools—one-third—that have been identified as Title One, the transference to other schools is a real problem.
Mentoring USA can help students by giving our youth the advantage of a qualified, committed, supportive mentor. It is reasonable to utilize Mentoring USA for the following reasons: Mentoring USA has many programs in all five boroughs and is the largest school/community site-based program in New York City. Mentoring USA provides well-trained one-to-one mentors who give a one-year commitment and who are supervised by a site coordinator who is also trained. Mentoring USA provides ESL mentoring programs. We have over 150 foster care youth with specially trained mentors. Since 9/11, Mentoring USA’s initiative, B.R.A.V.E. (Bias-Related Anti-Violence Education) was renamed B.R.A.V.E. Juliana in honor of a magnificent, loving, young child, Juliana Valentine McCourt, who lost her life with her mother tragically on 9/11. This program provides mentors trained by the National Coalition of Building Institute (NCBI) who promote cultural understanding and conflict resolution by instruction and reading books about ethnic heroes. Our youth need hope for the future, and Mentoring USA’s program, Dare to Dream, provides career options for students.
Hopefully, with supplemental education services and through programs like Mentoring USA, by the 12-year mark, the graduation rate in New York City will improve considerably…and so will the lives of countless New York children.#
Matilda Raffa Cuomo is former first lady of New York state. Denise Castagna is a consultant for NYC Department of Education’s Office of Corporate Partnerships.