In his first State of the State address, New York Governor David Patterson focused on New York public schools and singled out the failure of public schools to graduate minority students, an issue raised at the recent school board meeting.
Another way we can protect our children and build a brighter future is to ensure that every child in New York receives a good education.
This current crisis should teach us that the only way to restore our long-term economic competitiveness is to build the world’s best system of education.
We can do it, but we have a long way to go. Today, three in ten New Yorkers do not graduate from high school and don’t even have a chance to go to college. The numbers are even worse for children of color and children from low-income families.
We must do better. We must ensure that every child is prepared for college — and that every child can afford to go.
Innovative educational models have raised high school graduation rates and prepared our most disadvantaged children for college. This year, through public-private partnerships, we should work together to establish new early college high schools throughout New York. And we must expand the SAY YES program, which offers free college tuition to students who meet educational standards.
Yet we must do more than just prepare our children for college; we must help them afford it. When private lenders refuse to lend to our students because of tight credit markets, we must step in. That is why I propose we establish the New York State Higher Education Loan Program, which will provide more than $350 million in affordable loans to students in need.
I have always fought for more resources for our schools. The road to economic competitiveness and renewal runs right through our schools. However, during this downturn, we simply cannot spend more — so we must spend more effectively.