Press Releases | Trusteeship

Alumni and Faculty to CUNY Board: We Need Remediation Reform

Citizens Form Committee for the CUNY Future and Support Proposal to Focus Remediation in the Community Colleges
May 21, 1998

WASHINGTON, DC—Distinguished faculty, alumni, parents and citizens today sent a letter to the CUNY Board of Trustees announcing the formation of the Committee for the CUNY Future and seeking immediate remediation reform: “As supporters of CUNY, we are concerned that the excessive number of remedial courses downgrades the senior colleges and diverts resources from college-level course work,” said the Committee. “The senior colleges should not be doing the work of high schools. It is time to let CUNY be a university again.”

Nineteen citizens—including distinguished scholars Allison L. C. de Cerreno, Jules L. Coleman, Paula S. Fichtner, Eugene D. Genovese, Gertrude Himmelfarb, Donald Kagan, Irving Kristol, Jay Newman, Stanley Rothman and Sheldon Stern—signed the letter.

The letter urges trustees to support the motion, introduced by Board Vice-Chairman Herman Badillo, limiting remediation in the senior colleges and locating it in community colleges, summer programs and other publicly-supported programs.

The letter notes that 14% of students entering CUNY senior colleges are unable to pass any of the reading, writing and math skills tests; and 63% fail at least one. Meanwhile, CUNY is the largest source of New York City’s public school teachers. Yet 38% of its graduates fail the teacher-certification test.

“Unless we raise academic standards at the senior colleges, we will face a downward spiral of poorly educated teachers preparing poorly educated students,” the Committee told the Board.

The Committee calls on the Board to “take decisive action”: “We know that all the forces of the status quo are pressuring the Board to delay, to waffle, to do as little as possible. Only the Badillo resolution fully and adequately addresses the problem of raising academic standards. Nothing less will clearly redefine and upgrade the mission of the senior colleges. Nothing less will put them on the track to being great institutions once again. Nothing less will move students who need remediation into publicly-supported programs most effective for their level of preparation.”

The following signed the letter:

Martin Berman (auditor at Hunter, Queens and John Jay Colleges), senior citizen

Philip Cardinale, writer, Long Island

Jane P. Coleman (Hunter ‘57; graduate courses, Hunter, CCNY), Vice President, Merrill Lynch; former junior high school math teacher

Jules L. Coleman (Brooklyn College ‘68 and Distinguished Alumni Award, ‘87), John A. Garver Professor of Jurisprudence and Philosophy, Yale University

Allison L. C. de Cerreno (Hunter ‘89; M.A. ‘92, M.Phil. ‘93 and Ph.D. ‘96, CUNY Graduate Center), Associate Director, Studies, Council on Foreign Relations; former adjunct faculty, CUNY system

Paula S. Fichtner, professor of history, Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center

Mary Campbell Gallagher, Esq., former professor, Queens College

Eugene D. Genovese (Brooklyn College ‘53), Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence, University Center in Georgia

Stanley Goldstein (Brooklyn College ‘59), trustee, Brooklyn College Foundation

Gertrude Himmelfarb (Brooklyn College ‘42), Professor Emeritus of History, Graduate Center, City University of New York

Donald Kagan (Brooklyn College ‘54), Hillhouse Professor of History and Classics, Yale University

Elizabeth C. Kaming, Esq., Kaming & Kaming, New York City

Irving Kristol (CCNY ‘40), co-editor, The Public Interest

Kathleen S. McCreary, Esq., tax attorney, MetLife

Lynne A. Munson, research associate, American Enterprise Institute, Brooklyn

Jay Newman (Brooklyn College ‘68), professor of philosophy at the University of Guelph; Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada

Arthur Stephen Penn, private investor, New York City

Stanley Rothman (CCNY ‘49), professor of government, emeritus, Smith College; Director of the Center for the Study of Social and Political Change, Smith College

Dr. Sheldon M. Stern (CUNY ‘61), historian and director of the American History Project for High School Students, John F. Kennedy Library, Boston, Massachusetts.


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