CCNY Panel Headed By Dean Alfred Posamentier Weighs In on the Future of Public Education
As President-elect Obama’s Education Cabinet prepares to tackle the problems that plague the American school system, a panel of education experts expressed their views on what lies ahead to further improve public education. Hosted by the Education Alumni Association and the School of Education in the City College of New York, the panel included Ernest Logan, President, Council of Supervisors and Administrators; Michael Mulgrew, V.P., Career and Technical Education, UFT; Dr. Richard Organisciak, Superintendent, New Rochelle School District; Dr. Alfred Posamentier, Dean, CCNY School of Education; Althea Serrant, Educational Consultant; and Dr. Lester Young, Member, NYS Board of Regents at Large. Dr. Betty Rosa, member of the NYS Board of Regents, was the moderator.
Among the topics that were addressed, the panelists each identified an issue that deserves greater attention under the Cabinet’s education initiative.
Ernest Logan opened the discussion by identifying early childhood education as a critical area in need of additional support. “We need to get our children focused on education,” said Logan. “It is the basis for all that we do. If we don’t start there we’ve missed the boat.” In his campaign for the presidency, Obama pledged to provide support for young children and their parents through his “Zero to Five” plan, which emphasizes early education and care, starting with infants. He also promises to help states offer voluntary, universal pre-schools and help working families find affordable, high-quality child care.
Focusing on the need for educators that are prepared to teach effectively, Dr. Alfred S. Posamentier called for the increased professionalization of the teaching profession. “I’d like to see people go through a proper training program,” said Posamentier. “Unfortunately in education we go through one shortage crisis after another. We compromise standards and that compromises the profession.”
Dr. Richard Organisciak supported the idea of a national curriculum. “Wouldn’t it be nice to know that what you study in Mississippi applies to what is being studied in New York?” asked Organisciak. “I know that’s far-fetched but it’s my way of saying we are ready…for a national curriculum, which comes with national standards.”
Citing findings that students in career and technical schools often outperform other students in test scores, Michael Mulgrew advocated an increase in the use of applied learning. “In this day and age we find more students are successful when we put them in real world sequencing…sitting down in a classroom…not in an applied learning setting is not a good idea,” said Mulgrew.
Althea Serrant emphasized the importance of accurately identifying students with special education needs to reduce overcrowded classrooms. The overall number of children enrolled in special education programs increased by 53% from 3.72 million in 1977 to 5.68 million in 2000, according the U.S. Census Bureau. Critics attribute the increase to the misidentification of students as learning disabled, which some say is too broadly defined. “We need to redefine special ed. and be aware of students’ learning styles,” said Serrant. “That would help reduce the number of students we’re moving into special ed.”
Dr. Lester W. Young identified high school dropout rates as a growing crisis. “In every state there is a huge disparity in who graduates from high school. If anyone believes a young person can survive without a high school education, you’re kidding yourself,” said Young. Black students are twice as likely to drop out of high school and Hispanic students are four times as likely to drop out as white students, according to a recent survey from the U.S. Department of Education.
Fellow educators in the audience appreciated the points made by the panelists. “I wasn’t expecting any magic answers, but hearing this discussion was certainly helpful, said Dr. Lynn Tarlow, an assistant professor in mathematics at the City College of New York. “It’s given us more food for thought.” #