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JULY 2004

School of Education,
City College of NY: From Rags to Riches

by Adam W. Sugerman

The educational equivalent of “From Rags to Riches” is the best way to describe the last five years of the School of Education of the City College of New York (CCNY). Founded in 1921, as the first public school of education in New York City, the College hit a nadir in 1997: its graduates posted the second lowest passing rate in the state on the New York State teacher certification test, the Liberal Arts and Science Test (LAST)—an embarrassing 39 percent passing. The State Education Department began an investigation while faculty morale plummeted.

But a reversal of fortune was not far behind. During the 2003--2004 academic year, CCNY has experienced a banner year. The steps in achieving this momentous goal were first, establishing a Dean’s Advisory Council, consisting of leaders in education, politics, industry and society at large (including two Nobel laureates). CCNY’s School of Education faculty began the arduous task of reviewing and revising all of its programs. The resultant re-registration of all the School’s programs in accord with state requirements was a huge success.

The School was able to attract several outstanding young faculty members that infused new ideas into the programs and also helped meet current needs more appropriately. The faculty was sensitized to identify any students who might need some extra support prior to graduation and refer them to a newly established center, where they received assistance with whatever skills they needed. During this time, as a result of a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education aimed at “technolizing” the entire instructional program, a major renewal emerged in the way in which the School did its “business.” The entire faculty began to use the latest technology to enhance instruction in a multitude of ways appropriate for the various disciplines. All this and more resulted in the School’s graduates’ passing percentage on the LAST this year to rise to 94 percent.

The New York State Education Department requires every school of education in the state to be nationally accredited by 2006. For the past three years the faculty of the CCNY School of Education has been preparing documents to demonstrate the effectiveness of the various programs. Each program had to submit detailed reports to each of the appropriate professional associations. The success of these submissions was merely the first step of a longer accreditation process that will lead to the final component, an official report (in October 2004) of a site visit by a team from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

After about three years of developing a concept and finding an international publisher, the CCNY School of Education launched its preview issue of a new education Journal entitled The New Educator. This is the first peer-reviewed education journal in CUNY. It will focus on topics related to preparation, recruitment, induction, development and other aspects of education professionals, including teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, supervisors, guidance counselors and school psychologists. Professor Beverly Falk has been appointed editor in chief and will be supported by a number of associate editors from the School of Education faculty. The journal’s advisory board consists of some of the most prominent professionals in the field of education. Articles for publication may be submitted to Professor Falk.

This impressive year was capped off with record-setting fund raising. In the 157-year history of the City College, the largest gifts from the private sector have been received this year by the School of Education. As the academic year began, the School of Education was given a gift of $100,000 from Dr. Charlotte K. Frank to establish a mathematics education center. A $2 million gift from Stanley H. Kaplan to provide inservice training and mentoring for intermediate school supervisors of mathematics was awarded in October 2003. Shortly thereafter the Carroll and Milton Petrie Foundation awarded the School of Education $3.7 million to provide inservice training and mentoring for high school supervisors of mathematics. Then in the spring 2004, the Joseph and Claire Flom Foundation awarded the School of Education $1.1 million to develop a master teacher program to provide support leading to improved retention of young math teachers in New York City’s high schools. This brought the fund raising effort to about $7 million!

From fund-raising to the new education journal, from the newly formed august council to teacher exchanges with Austria, one man’s efforts deserve a standing ovation: Dr. Alfred S. Posamentier, Dean of the College of Education, educator par excellence.

All in all, as Frank Sinatra used to sing “It was a very good year.” Auguri to the School and to Dean Posamentier, whose work serves as a beacon to other Schools of Education around the nation.#



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