Mayor Ras J. Baraka, Newark Public Schools Superintendent Roger León, Newark City of Learning Collaborative (NCLC) Executive Director Reginald Lewis, Essex County Schools of Technology Superintendent Dr. James Pedersen, KIPP New Jersey Chief External Officer Ben Cope, and St. Benedict’s Prep Dean of Seniors and College Placement Didier Jean-Baptiste announced at a press conference on Wednesday, Sept. 19, the launch of public conversations throughout the city of Newark to increase the number of Newark residents with college and other post-secondary certificates by 25 percent by 2025.
NCLC is an initiative created to help build Newark’s college-going culture by ensuring that all Newarkers have the tools and resources needed to matriculate at and graduate from college. Accordingly, the citywide public conversations will address topics and issues derived from Post-Secondary Outcomes of Newark High School Graduates, a report produced by NCLC in collaboration with the Rutgers University-Newark School of Public Affairs and Administration that examines what college-going looks like for nearly 13,500 of Newark’s recent graduates. Covering approximately 85 percent of all Newark high school students who graduated between 2011 and 2016, the report examines college enrollment, persistence, and completion rates.
“The good news is that we know more Newark students are enrolling in college, but we also know that far too few are persisting to degree completion,” says NCLC Executive Director Reginald Lewis. “We hope that this report will serve as a resource to better understand the experiences of recent high school graduates.”
“As both a 22-year Newark Public Schools educator and mayor, one of my life’s greatest priorities has been to provide our youth with opportunities to advance their education after graduating from high school. The City is advancing this priority by collaborating with major partners to increase the number of Newark residents with college degrees and post-secondary certificates by 25 percent by 2025. To do so, we will talk to and listen to our residents and get their input, ideas, and concerns, in making this goal a reality. It will be attained, and our residents will be both the power behind it and the ultimate beneficiaries,” Mayor Baraka said.
At the press conference, representatives from all sectors of the K-12 spectrum (e.g., traditional public, charter, vocational technical, and private schools) also reaffirmed their unprecedented partnership and manifested their continued commitment to strengthen the high-school-to-college transition for all Newark students by signing a Statement of Commitment.
“The NCLC, City of Newark and Newark Board of Education are taking a monumental step in charting a new course for our beloved city,” said Superintendent León. “Through these community conversations, we are giving voice to the people who will help determine how soon we will become a national leader in the number of residents who are college graduates. León continued, “I am a proponent of engaging the community on all issues pertaining to them – that is why this exercise is integral to the success of our students and city. We will significantly shift the trajectory upward and provide a roadmap that will profoundly impact Newark and change it forever.”
“The cross-sector collaboration was one of the highlights of the project and enabled us to examine college-going for a wide range of Newark high school graduates. One of our goals was really to put schools in conversation – not competition – with one another to learn and share best practices throughout the community,” remarked the report’s co-author Dr. Kristi Donaldson.
The first two rounds of public discussions will take place in October as follows:
East Ward Roundtable
Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
East Side High School (238 Van Buren Street, Newark, NJ 07105)
West Ward Roundtable
Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Jehovah-Jireh Praise & Worship Church Center (505 S. 15th Street, Newark, NJ 07103)