Washington Heights councilman beat down by city police (36122)

Last week, the Community Service Society released a report entitled “Unintended Impacts: Fewer Black and Latino Freshmen at CUNY Senior Colleges After the Recession.” The findings of this report are extremely concerning, although they are not surprising given the extremely low rates of college readiness that exist across this city.

As chair of the New York City Council Higher Education Committee, I have from day one expressed the urgent need for a comprehensive college readiness plan for New York City. The plan should serve as a guide to ensure that all children are being prepared to not only attend college, but to succeed once they get there. The plan should encompass every aspect of a child’s education, beginning in pre-K and following through to high school graduation.

The city’s lack of investment in college readiness is the greatest factor leading to the problems that the Community Service Society has brought to light. Many students of color are now so inadequately prepared for college that their enrollment in CUNY’s senior colleges has dramatically decreased.

In New York City, only around a quarter of public high school graduates are prepared for college-level work, as determined by a score of 75 on their English Regents exam and a score of 80 on their Math Regents. Among Black and Latino graduates, that figure drops even lower, to 13 percent. This means that only one out of every eight Black or Latino students who graduates from a New York City high school can be expected to succeed at a college or university.

For a school system with a student population that is nearly 70 percent Black or Latino, these figures should be shocking, and the implications of this data are far- reaching. It not only shows that New York City schools are failing in their primary task of educating their students, but points to a grim future for the city and its residents.

Economic success is increasingly tied to an individual’s level of education, especially within the shifting economy of a post-industrial New York. Where once a high school graduate could expect to find well-paying work within the manufacturing sector, this has become a dwindling option. In the past two decades, the city’s economy has become polarized, providing high-paying jobs for highly educated workers within the finance and business sectors and low-paying jobs in the service sector.

As a former New York City public school teacher, a student activist at CUNY and now the chair of the City Council’s Higher Education Committee, I call on every individual from all sectors of the city to come together to work towards creating a comprehensive college readiness plan. We owe it to our children to provide the necessary tools to succeed in college and be educated.

In the next few weeks, I will have conversations with community stakeholders such as the Hispanic Federation, the NAACP, CUNY, DOE and partners in the business sector in an effort to begin working on a plan that will bring solutions to the crisis of college readiness in New York City.