A College Goes to School: The History of an Urban Collaboration

By Rothstein, Anne L. | Education, Winter 2001 | Go to article overview

A College Goes to School: The History of an Urban Collaboration


Rothstein, Anne L., Education


Introduction

Lehman College began the serious business of institutionalizing school/college collaboration in 1983. By establishing the Center for School/College Collaboratives, Lehman made a long-term commitment to collaborate with Bronx school districts, schools, communities and parent organizations to achieve educational access and equity for "our" Bronx PreK-16 students. In fact, over the years Lehman has become known as "The Collaborative College" because of its many programs and initiatives, largely focused on The Bronx (1) Indeed, we realized early on that by helping schools to succeed we help ourselves.

Dr. Thomas K. Minter, Dean of Professional Studies/Education from 1983-1995, served as the catalyst for the formation of the Center. In his view Lehman, the only public senior college in The Bronx, had an obligation to work on behalf of the education of all students in the borough. Dr. Anne Rothstein, who served as Associate Dean from 1983-1993 and as Associate Provost from 1993-1996, took on the Directorship, a position she still holds. The result was that an institutional voice at the executive level represented Lehman to the school community and was able to form lasting relationships with teachers, administrators, superintendents and parents. Many of the individuals who have collaborated with the Center through the years have risen to high level positions and continue to collaborate with and support Lehman programs.

The initial funded programs of the Center were: The New York State Science and Technology Program (STEP); The Macy Medical Sciences Honors Program at DeWitt Clinton High School; and The Pre-Teaching Academy at Walton High School. These three programs are still continuing and have had extraordinary success in student outcomes. The 4-year graduation and post-secondary entry statistics for program participants at Walton High School and DeWitt Clinton High School are greater than 95% in four years. This in contrast to the more common 35% 4-year graduation rate in urban centers, though at least 30% remain in school to complete their requirements in a 5th or 6th year.

In many colleges and universities, programs with schools are decentralized, creating needless overlap and duplication of effort, resulting in inconsistent philosophies, competing goals and objectives, and difficulty in institutionalizing programs. By contrast, the Center promotes the view that programs are pieces of a puzzle (titled PreK-16 schooling) in which each project relates to and supports the overall goals of school improvement and student achievement through collaborative effort. The Center has worked to unify the goals and objectives of diverse programs, provide uniform administrative overview and support, assure consistency in methods, strategies and relationships, promote long term commitment and lasting relationships, and enable each program to learn from, build upon and support the efforts of other programs. The Center is also able to sustain services across a variety of ongoing and planned projects. Services include: project design; proposal writing; resource sharing, professional development; equipment and books purchases; financial oversight; administrative and secretarial assistance; data collection; project evaluation; report writing; construction and maintenance of web sites and preparation of presentation materials.

Urban Schools

From the start the Center was determined to focus on large schools. Though the College was urged to create a middle college high school on its campus, it repeatedly declined reasoning that although small schools have merit, most urban public education systems cannot offer placement in small schools to all students. The majority of students will attend large schools for the foreseeable future. Further, parents who are savvy and can work the system are more likely to enroll their children in these smaller schools. This exacerbates the slide of the necessarily large schools as the results of students who attend them continue the downward trend. …

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