New York City high schools are not preparing graduates for college

By Rory Lancman

What’s the value of a high school diploma when the recipient isn’t ready for college or a particular career?

That’s the question we need to ask ourselves when half of New York City high school graduates are not “college ready” — meaning they graduate from 12th grade unprepared for “13th grade.”

Each year, thousands of students graduate from a New York City public high school.

Receiving a high school diploma is supposed to be a momentous achievement in a young person’s life: the culmination of many years of hard work and study, along with support from parents and educators.

A high school diploma should not just represent the hard work a student has done in preceding years either. It should be a powerful, universal symbol that this student, by virtue of his or her studies and performance, is prepared and ready to attend college or enter the workforce.

But for too many city high school graduates today, the high school diploma they receive at the end of four years of study does not mean they are prepared for college, at all. In fact, for far too long, the NYC high school graduation rate has far exceeded the city’s own standard for college readiness.

NYC’s college readiness problem is exacerbated when our elected leaders do not make combating it a top priority.

Case in point: Mayor de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Farina held an event earlier the month to tout news that the city high school graduation rate was now 72.6 percent. But what’s really important is this: the city DOE reports half of all 2016 high school graduates were not college ready.

These findings are supported by a report released by city Comptroller Scott Stringer last September.

In the report, the comptroller details that nearly 80 percent of CUNY fall 2015 freshman with city high school diplomas required remedial education in at least one subject. That is entirely unacceptable.

With those statistics in mind, it is imperative that the mayor and the chancellor focus on ensuring that every child in this city receives a quality education so that a high school diploma will say, in spirit and in practice, that this child is ready for college.

Because what is the value of a high school diploma if more than half of New York City students are not college ready?

The city is playing a cruel trick on kids by handing them a high school diploma, minus the skills needed to actually be prepared to pursue higher education.

The hard truth is the city’s failure to properly prepare its students for college creates substantial problems in the future.

For starters, public education is the backbone of a strong economy.

It takes great teachers and educators to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs, innovators and workers with the skills they need to find a job or start a business.

We are undermining our economy by failing to prepare high school students with the essential skills.

Fundamentally, the American Dream itself depends on a strong education system.

Without the right skills, training or guidance, it becomes more difficult for people to make ends meet later in life, and support their families.

We can, and we must do better for our kids and the future of our city.

Rory Lancman


24th Council District

Fresh Meadows

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