Opinion: Lifting All Students to Success

Throughout our city, too many young people are faced with the hard truth that they are being passed over for jobs because they do not have the core skills and knowledge they need for today’s workforce. The recent release of test scores aligned to New York’s Common Core Learning Standards makes it clear that we have not done enough to prepare our children for the demands of college and the workforce.

Consider that according to the New York State Department of Labor, the unemployment rate in New York City was 8.7 percent in June 2013 – higher than the national rate – and in 2012, nearly three out of every 20 African Americans (14 percent) and almost as many Hispanics (12 percent) in New York City were unemployed.  This compares to less than one in 10 whites (7 percent), and is higher for young men under the age of 40.

(Photo by NYC DOT, Creative Commons License)

(Photo by NYC DOT, Creative Commons License)

If we want our businesses to not by-pass the South Bronx to recruit a workforce from Bangladesh, we must hold our students to high expectations and create meaningful internship and job shadowing opportunities.

At the New York Urban League, we have spent more than 90 years working to create opportunities and promote equality for people of color and underserved communities. While the drop in test scores is upsetting, we are presented with another moment to create opportunities.

For too long, there has been an unacceptable mismatch between what students are learning in school and what skills they need to succeed in the innovation economy. The results provide a realistic baseline for where students are and provide a clear signal that we must do more to support them. We owe it to our students and families to improve teaching, schooling, and learning for all students.

I am encouraged by news that New York City is planning on devoting additional resources for professional development for teachers and principals, but we must make sure these dollars are invested wisely. In order to help all of our students meet the higher bar, we must push our city and state leaders to support work happening both in and out of the classroom. Parents and communities have a critical role to play and must be brought into the process and not isolated.

For parents and community members working to get up to speed on this critical work, there are many resources available online with information about the Common Core and the knowledge and skills that students need to graduate high school prepared for college and career. One of which is the Council of the Great City School’s three-minute video about the Common Core.

These test scores are a pivotal moment for all of us invested in our children’s future – educators, parents, business leaders, communities – to focus on how to support students and teachers and move forward with purpose.  By working together we can seize this moment and ensure that all students – regardless of their background – are prepared to succeed in today’s economy.

Arva R. Rice is the president and CEO of the New York Urban League, a 94-year-old civil rights organization devoted to surmounting the educational and economic obstacles faced by African-Americans and other under-served populations in the city.

One Comment

  1. Richmond Bradshaw jr says:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *