DMI Blog

Maureen Lane

Pataki’s Budget: Let’s Get a Plan for the Dream

Crain's New York Business, shows a surprising response to a new poll. The big number in the poll is the 47% of respondents want to spend New York State surplus on more funding for NYC schools.

There is good reason New Yorkers and New York business are concerned about education. Here in the city we have around 50% high school graduation rate. Our schools have students without textbooks and other quality resources. How can students attain the academic competence they need to succeed without the wherewithal to be prepared? And much too often the schools without resources are in minority neighborhoods.

The Gotham Gazette reported, "New York City's schools are among the most segregated in the country according to a new report by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University." Segregation hurts us all to paraphrase Dr. King.

I work with students every day who see how race and class intersect to dispense a big slap across the face of hope for their futures. Students receiving public assistance confront institutional prejudice about their skin color, their native language, their family compositions and income level all the time.

Students go to appointments to speak with welfare caseworkers that tell them they cannot go to school or should not be wasting their time in college. They go to meetings with legislators who treat them as exceptions and propose small programs to help only students like them, "the deserving poor." Yet the students persist in organizing, in meeting with policymakers as well as other advocates.

The students keep on because they see the big picture. They see that learning is a lifetime pursuit and education must be accessible along the continuum. Poor and low-income students in high school need a chance at college for themselves and their families. Their kids have a better shot at college if they can go to university. That's why WRI students work to bring high schoolers to CUNY and fight to stay here themselves. They are changing their lives. Their degrees are changing entire families' life chances.

The Crain's poll is encouraging. We need business to join students and others in realizing the dream of equal access to quality education for all. We have the dream now let's all work together on the plan.

Maureen Lane: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 5:40 AM, Jan 18, 2006 in Welfare
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