College Too Hard for Nearly 80% of NYC High School Graduates

Friday, 08 Mar 2013 01:08 PM

By Megan Anderle

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As Mayor Michael Bloomberg crusades against everything unhealthy or not green enough  in New York City – from large sugary sodas, to loud headphones, to foam food and drink containers – the young adults who happen to graduate from the city's public high schools, which the mayor controls, still lack basic literary skills.

According to City University New York officials, nearly 80 percent of the city's high school graduates don't have the basic literacy skills to take regular classes at the community college in the city.

And the number of teens who are behind the curve is the highest in years, CBS New York reported on Thursday.

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CUNY Officials told CBS that 79.3 percent of those who graduate from city high schools – 10,700 of them – arrived at its community college system without having mastered the skills to do college-level work.

The NYC Department of Education said it has raised high school graduation rates by 40 percent over the past seven years. However, the illiteracy rate is still ballooning – the jarring 79.3 illiteracy statistic is up from 71.4 percent reported in 2007.

Because students have to re-learn basic math, science, and English before attending regular classes, City University has launched a special program called CUNY Start, which provides remedial non-credit immersion classes to struggling students.

Sherry Mason teaches a writing class in the program.

“We give them a lot more one-on-one attention, small group work. It helps them achieve more in a short amount of time and so they’re able to get on with their credit classes,” Mason told CBS.

Courses in the CUNY Start program, which don't count towards a student's degree, cost as much as $1,000 a pop, the New York Post reported.

“The basics that I’m receiving now should have been taught in high school,” Brooklyn Academy for Science and the Environment HS graduate Feona Wilson told the Post. “It’s more money coming out of your pocket.”

Last month, Bloomberg's final State of the City address didn't mention the failing public school system or all of the polls that show most parents of public school students believe the mayor has failed to improve the schools, the New York Daily News reported.

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Instead, Bloomberg touted the nearly 150 charter schools created under his watch, and another 26 set to launch in September, despite the thousands of city parents who attended council meetings to protest charter schools replacing public schools, some of who were forced into co-location arrangements with charters.

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