The situation is worse than you think.
When my office researched the question of how New Yorkers were doing in terms of college degrees, we were shocked by what we found: Four out of five New York City public high-school students don’t graduate from college with any kind of degree. Moreover, New York is only in the middle of the pack of American cities in terms of the educational attainment of its population, lagging behind Seattle, Boston, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Minneapolis.
So we devised a plan to put New York at the top of the pack. Our goal is to raise the proportion of New Yorkers with college degrees to 60 percent by the year 2025, from about 42 percent citywide now.
Our “Beyond High School NYC” initiative has published research, proposed educational reforms, and identified strategic investments in public education designed to boost the number of New Yorkers with post-secondary degrees.
Our key report, “The Power of Guidance,” proposed to more than double the number of school counselors. That would reduce the counselor-to-student ratio to 1:100, from an average of 1:259 today.
We also propose using early-intervention systems to help students stay on-track for college, by expanding collaborative programs with colleges and college students and investing more in summer programs that help college-bound high-school graduates matriculate.
New York City must create a college-going culture in our public schools and give students the support they need. By investing in the hands-on efforts we’ve outlined, we can ensure that more students enroll in the right college and have the tools they need to graduate.
We can find the money. By diverting funds from what is now spent on wasteful high-tech contracts, we can invest more in college counseling and support, so city schools could get more bang for their buck in terms of increasing college enrollment and graduation.
Failing to properly invest in public education deprives the next generation of a chance for prosperous and fulfilling lives – and it weakens New York City’s ability to compete in the global economy.
It’s time we reverse our city’s education gap and make sure every public high-school graduate has a shot at succeeding in college.
John C. Liu is New York City Comptroller.