Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

New Standards Will Send Many CUNY Students to Community Colleges

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

New Standards Will Send Many CUNY Students to Community Colleges

Article excerpt

The man behind the ending of remediation in the City University of New York's (CUNY) four-year colleges is not New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani -- although the Republican mayor certainly set the political tone earlier this year by calling for the end of remediation.

The man behind CUNY's controversial move is a Democrat who ran for mayor almost thirty years ago and who today serves as an educational advisor to the mayor. He opposed open admissions then, and it appears he has finally found a way to enforce that policy.

Herman Badillo, vice chairman of CUNY's board of trustees and founder of Hostos Community College, the first bilingual college in the state of New York, authored CUNY's resolution ending remediation.

"Those who are saying it's an anti-Black arid anti-Latino move don't know what they're talking about," he says.

The resolution, adopted by a 96 vote late last month against the opposition of the system's presidents, says that students at the eleven four-year colleges in the CUNY system will be allowed only one summer's worth of remedial classes prior to entering as fully matriculated students. If after the summer class they are still unable to pass three exams -- in math, reading, and writing -- they will have to continue remedial work at one of the six community colleges in the system before returning to a four-year college.

According to figures prepared by City University, this could reduce enrollment at the four-year institutions by as little as one-third or as much as two-thirds, depending on the institution (see accompanying chart). And the drops, according to CUNY, could be most dramatic for African American and Latino students.

Badillo brushed aside those estimates.

"That's the worst-case scenario," he said.

That assessment is shared by Hunter College president Dr. David A. Caputo, who said, "it would be surprising if we lost a third of our students, provided we are creative about finding solutions."

Besides, Badillo says, those people who say that the plan has been put in place to make more room for White students just don't understand that CUNY "is primarily a Black and Latino institution."

Badillo's resolution is part of his overall push for higher standards -- not only in the city's higher education system, but also in its K-12 system.

"I have my sights on the whole system beginning in kindergarten."

By that, he means that in the next three years -- as the new admissions standards are phased in -- CUNY's senior colleges are supposed to start working with high schools in the city to ensure that students are better prepared for college work. For example, one plan is to administer the entrance exams to all juniors in high school to demonstrate what will be expected of them.

Dr. Erich Jarvis, a graduate of Hunter College of the City University of New York, says that would have helped him. Now a research scientist at Rockefeller University and about to take a tenure track assistant professorship at Duke University, he needed remediation when he entered Hunter in the mid-1980s.

"I criticize my high school for not preparing me," he said.

However, Jarvis says, had he not been able to complete the remediation in the summer, he probably would not have gone to a community college for further remediation. …

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