City touts jump in high school graduation rates
by Patrick Kearns
Jan 19, 2016 | 4473 views | 0 0 comments | 78 78 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña meet with college-bound high school seniors.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña meet with college-bound high school seniors.
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City education leaders stopped in Queens last week to tout the city's rising graduation rate and applaud the work of public schools.

According to new data, the graduation rate topped 70 percent for students that entered ninth grade in 2011 for the first time, and the dropout rate fell to an even 9 percent. The graduation rate is a 2 percent increase on the previous year.

“Our schools are improving in the right direction,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “More kids are graduating on time, more of them are college-ready and fewer are dropping out.”

De Blasio touted the success of the equity and excellence plan, which aims for an 80 percent graduation rate and two-thirds of the city's students to be college-ready.

“As we're raising the bar through our Equity and Excellence plan, we're making sure every student in every school has access to the tools that will help them succeed,” the mayor added.

One of the areas that still needs improvement is the graduation and dropout rates among the minority communities of New York City. While the graduation rates for both black and Hispanic students grew, black students only graduated at a rate of 65.4 percent, while 64 percent of Hispanic students graduated.

De Blasio said all of the long-term initiatives in place, specifically full-day pre-K, renewal schools and new algebra programs, are going to reach minority students and improve their situations. The mayor said the state also needs to step up and release billions in funding a judge ruled was owed to the city as part of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity.

“Albany now for most of a decade has not made good on the obligation to the city, which was determined by the highest court in this state,” de Blasio said. “The Court of Appeals said there needed to be a different formula, and the City of New York deserved more.”

At the High School for Arts and Businesses in Corona, where the announcement was made, the graduation rate has actually topped 90 percent and the school is now receiving 2,500 applicants annually.

Before the press conference, de Blasio, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, UFT President Michael Mulgrew, Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan and State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky sat down with college-bound students to discuss their school.

“This is a school that has done some amazing things in the last four years,” said Fariña. “Principal [Ana] Zambrano and her staff have done an amazing job.”

The students discussed the specific things they like about the school, and one of the students pointed out that teachers are willing to come in on the weekends and help tutor students who are struggling.

Student Body president Celine Sierra talked about her own experiences at the school.

“I chose the High School for Arts and Business because I wanted a school that had a top academic reputation, with teachers who truly cared about the students,” she explained.

Sierra said at the school she discovered her passion for sciences, and took advantage of free AP classes and SAT prep to prepare her for college.

The story of her mother immigrating to the United States from Columbia resonated with students and the administration. Principal Zambrano shared a similar story to Sierra's of growing up in a non-English speaking household of immigrants that valued education.

“[My mom] always stressed to me how important education was,” Sierra said. “My mother worked very hard day and night as a single parent so I could go to college and have the opportunities she didn't have.”

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