Contact: Matthew Sweeney, (212) 669-3747 September 27, 2012
THREATENING CITY’S ECONOMY
Four of Five Public School Students Fail to Earn College Degrees
NEW YORK, N.Y. – City Comptroller John C. Liu today launched “Beyond High School NYC,” a major initiative to increase the proportion of New Yorkers with higher education to 60 percent by the year 2025 through strategic investments in public education.
“Beyond High School NYC” will publish research, propose educational reforms, and identify strategic investments in public education designed to boost the number of New Yorkers with post-secondary degrees.
“Investment in education promises to enhance City revenues and lower spending, thus attacking the budget problem from both sides of the ledger. Indeed, investment in education today is the best economic development policy for tomorrow,” said Comptroller Liu. “It’s time we reverse New York’s education gap and put our public schools back on the right track.”
The initiative’s inaugural research study, entitled “Beyond High School: Higher Education as a Growth & Fiscal Strategy for New York City,” was released today.
The study found that New York City, which regards itself as the intellectual capital of the country, is actually only in the middle of the pack of major cities based on the percentage of the working-age population with an Associate's Degree or higher. Seattle, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Minneapolis, and Boston and all have higher levels of educational attainment based on an analysis of American Community Survey (ACS) microdata.
Economists agree that low college completion rates harm a city’s competitiveness. The study estimates four out of every five New York City public high-school students, or 79%, do not earn two- or four-year college degrees within twelve years of beginning the 9th grade.
The lack of a college degree has significant consequences for an individual’s lifetime earnings. Digging deeper into the City’s demographics the study found that what New Yorkers earn, by race, closely tracks their educational attainment. Whites in New York City earned, on average, $61,735 in 2010, compared to $28,961 for Blacks, and $24,745 for Hispanics. The percentage of Whites with at least a bachelor’s degree (57.5%) is well more than twice that of Blacks (21.7%) and substantially three times more than the percentage of Hispanics (15.9%).
“Failing to properly invest in public education deprives the next generation of a chance for prosperous and fulfilling lives,” said Comptroller Liu. “The economic challenges facing our City can best be addressed by educating many more New Yorkers beyond high school. As we work together toward achieving this ambitious goal we will improve our economy and reduce the high costs associated with poverty, health care, and crime.”
“Increases in the city’s high school graduation rate won’t mean much if the administration can’t find a way to provide the real curriculum, teacher supports, and health and social services our kids need to make our graduates college-ready,” said United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew.
“This is an important effort to create a viable strategy to turn around the shocking lack of educational achievement among New York City’s resident children,” said Ernest A. Logan, president of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators. “Mr. Liu understands that New York City — with its abundance of wealthy citizens and its vast intellectual power — should be sending more not less of its children to college than any other city in the country is managing to do.”
“This important and timely report reinforces education’s essential role in New York City's future,” said Jay Hershenson, Senior Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Secretary of the Board of Trustees at The City University of New York. “Preparing a well-educated citizenry is the best investment in the future a city can make. A highly skilled workforce is a prerequisite to success in our global innovation economy, driving job growth and economic development. CUNY is deeply committed to continue working in partnership with the City to increase educational attainment across the five boroughs to help New Yorkers advance themselves and contribute to the City’s vitality.”
“Educational attainment and economic prosperity are inextricably linked,” said Jamie Merisotis, President and CEO of Lumina Foundation. “Economists and labor experts agree that, in any city or region, the key factor in economic growth and job creation is the education level of its residents. Without access to a well-educated workforce, today’s businesses have little chance of surviving, let alone thriving, in the global economy. Lumina applauds New York City’s efforts to focus on higher education attainment.”
“We concur with Comptroller Liu's analysis of this serious problem in New York City,” said Mona Davids, President of the NYC Parents Union. “We are alarmed that four out five NYC public high school graduates are dropping out college. Nothing is more important to a parent than the educational achievement of their child and their child's ability to have a great future. We need more support in our public schools to ensure our high school graduates complete their college education.”
“As parents we all have our hopes and dreams for our children when they enter school and college readiness is an essential and reasonable outcome to expect. This report uncovers the alarming fact that current school reforms in New York City are only preparing 20% of our students for college,” said Zakiyah Ansari, Advocacy Director, Alliance for Quality Education. “Comptroller Liu is helping focus New Yorkers on critical issues that have yet to be adequately addressed — like closing the education gap. We look forward to his proposals to increase educational opportunities for New York's students.”
“Every day at Make the Road we see youth struggling to find work in this City,” said Javier H. Valdes Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York. “We need to focus resources to make sure that the City’s high school graduates are college-ready and have a fair shot at a future. If they succeed our entire economy succeeds.”