Investing in Students
As students head back to classrooms this fall, New Yorkers might take the opportunity to study a subject worthy of their own reflection: how can we ensure that every student in the city can achieve his or her highest potential? Some basic principles should guide this most important investment in our city’s future.
First, education should be viewed as a continuum from preschool through college graduation. We need ongoing collaborations between K-12 schools and universities if we are to help students build an intellectual foundation that will inspire them even as adults. For example, CUNY’s College Now program, a partnership with the New York City Department of Education, helps students meet high school graduation requirements and be prepared for success in college. Since 2001, more than 110,000 students have participated in College Now—and our research indicates that the program’s alumni are more likely to persist in their pursuit of a college degree than other comparable New York City public school graduates.
Second, excellent teachers are critical to students’ learning and success. Excellence begins with the very best teacher training and education. In partnership with the Department of Education and New York University, CUNY recently created The Teacher Academy, an innovative four-year program to train exceptional math and science teachers for high-need public middle and high schools in New York City. The academy combines rigorous study in math, biology, chemistry, or earth science and a strong liberal arts curriculum with early, hands-on experiences in public schools. The first class of 108 Teacher Academy students, hailing from public, independent, and parochial schools throughout the five boroughs, as well as from out of state and abroad, began the program in August.
Third, a robust science and math curriculum must be the norm from the earliest grades. Early gaps in proficiency only widen in college. In 2005, CUNY began its “Decade of Science,” a renewed commitment to creating a healthy pipeline to science, math, technology, and engineering fields by advancing science at the highest levels and encouraging young people to study these disciplines. By adding hundreds of full-time faculty in emerging fields, building science facilities at many University campuses, and creating a Science Now program for middle and high school students, CUNY is helping learners at every stage engage in scientific examination and is paving the way for future discoveries in these fields.
New York must make a strong investment in its young people. Today’s workplace will be unforgiving of those who have not developed broad-based skills and the ability to innovate. An excellent educational foundation, one that stresses creative inquiry and active membership in a community of civic-minded learners, is essential to every child.#
Matthew Goldstein, Ph.D. is Chancellor, The City University of New York, www.cuny.edu.