Educational group pushes Excelsior Promise to help minority high school seniors

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) – A group of educational leaders from around New York, who make up the The Education Trust–New York, announced the Excelsior Promise. A roadmap to help high school students achieve success post graduation amid a pandemic.

“High school seniors have had their last year of high school interrupted by the coronavirus, but we cannot allow the pandemic to derail the aspirations and achievements of this next generation of New Yorkers,” said Ian Rosenblum, executive director of The Education Trust–New York. “The pandemic is making the existing inequities in our education system even worse, and graduating seniors – many of whom are from low-income backgrounds or students of color – need the full support of our education system behind them now more than ever.”

According to the organization, the pandemic affected roughly 190,000 high school seniors across New York State. About 50 % of those students came from low-income backgrounds and at least 100,000 are students of color.

“This pandemic has placed these disparities to the forefront and this is a great place to start to fulfill the promise for our students,” said Angelica Perez Delgado,  president and CEO of Ibero American Action League in Rochester. “Here in the Rochester City School District we know that our English Language Learners are lagging behind compared to other students. It’s really unfortunate that now our students are facing this pandemic and this state of unknown.” 

Bilingual programs within the Rochester City School District are on the chopping block. Perez- Delgado said doing that only increases the existing educational disparities and plans to take action. 

“We are currently reviewing with legal, and in a partnership The Bilingual Education Council, if there is a violation to the 1972 settlement.  We are in communication with the district to review that. So that’s one of the ways Ibero and the Bilingual Education Council support advocacy with these changes that were currently made. We know that there were changes made to the bilingual department. We know that  18.5 FTEs of bilingual teachers were removed so that’s something we are very concerned about.” 

A promise they hope will not only bring the critical issue of educational equity to the forefront but also close  its gap during a pandemic. 

The Excelsior Promise outlines how New York can leverage federal relief funding and the state’s regulatory power to build on these efforts and fulfill its commitment to the Class of 2020.

The recommendations are focused on:

  • Commitments from the state, including issuing guidance setting clear expectations for how high schools will support graduating seniors for the remainder of the school year, as well as a commitment to publicly release annual “to and through” data showing how graduates are doing in college and the workforce so that state, school, and college leaders can identify where additional support is needed over time.
  • Commitments from school districts, including working with all seniors to create a plan for their next steps after high school graduation, supporting all seniors in completing financial aid applications like the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and providing more personalized support to students and families to help them transition successfully.
  • Commitments from higher education, including investing federal relief and stimulus funds to enroll more students from low-income backgrounds and first-generation college students in summer bridge programs (virtually if necessary), enroll students who need greater academic support in co-requisite, credit-bearing courses instead of traditional remediation, and provide more food support and other wraparound services.

The Education Trust–New York works to eliminate the gaps in equity, opportunity and achievement that hold back too many students from reaching their full potential, especially those who are low-income or students of color, in order to enable all students in New York State to achieve at high levels — from early childhood through college.

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