President Fuhrman Outlines the State of the College | Teachers College Columbia University

Skip to content Skip to main navigation

President Fuhrman Outlines the State of the College

TC President Fuhrman gave her 2009 State of the College Address on October 28th. Her theme was the College's impact - locally, nationally and internationally. The full transcript of her remarks follows.
On Wednesday, October 28th, President Susan Fuhrman gave her annual State of the College address. Her address followed the presentation of the Elaine Brantley Memorial Award for Community and Civility, given to individuals who best reflect the spirit of Elaine Brantley, who worked as a cashier in the TC cafeteria for 24 years before her death in 2004. The awards were presented to Paul Acquaro, Director of the TC Web; Jacqueline Diaz-Solano, Director of Student Accounts; and James Rudolph, locksmith in the College’s Facilities group, by Vice President for Diversity and Community Affairs Janice Robinson. Ms. Brantley’s daughter and 2-year-old granddaughter also attended the award ceremony.


Thank you, and welcome to the State of the College. It’s always great to follow a two-year-old. It puts everybody in a really good mood! There’s only good news to tell this fall, and I’m going to focus on good news. It feels to me like an absolutely great fall! I saw many of you at Secretary Duncan’s talk, which was a terrific occasion to welcome people from around the city and the state, and friends of the college, as well as to welcome you. Now, we’re turning to another traditional event, the State of the College. I want to do two things today. First, I would like to briefly talk about the state of the College. Harvey keeps asking me, “What is the state of the College?” I say, “Good.” Then, I want to move on to talk a little bit about our impact and our influence. I chose to focus on our impact and influence because I think we talk about that all the time, but more historically. Things speed by so quickly that we don’t pause to reflect on all the wonderful things we’re doing that affect people and policy and practice through research, through our fantastic alumni who go out and represent us to the world, and also through our direct work in policy and practice. I’m going to be mentioning names, but not everybody, so please forgive me if I don’t mention everybody individually.


I’d like to begin by providing a general overview of the state of the College. In Fall 2009, we had the strongest enrollments that we’ve had in 30 years. We’re not alone in that. Graduate schools did well nationally because of the economy. But I’m very proud that this was the most diverse entering group that we have had ever, as long as we have kept records. Some 46% of our students who are international or US Citizens identify themselves as racial or ethnic minorities. And I do this little guessing game with groups I talk to: traditionally our American students come from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. This year the third state: New York, New Jersey, and … ? California! This is really amazing. That just shows that we are diverse in yet another respect – that geographical perspective - and that we really, truly are a national institution. We have a 20-year-old and a 60-year-old, and we have lots of career changers who have decided to choose education after making a life elsewhere, and we are happy to welcome them.


You’ve no doubt noticed a number of construction projects around that have been completed, including a major sidewalk and façade reconstruction as well as the renovation of the swimming pool, which is great to have completed. Financially, our enrollments, of course, make our tuition base much stronger, and the overall economy seems better, but it’s still fragile. We’re going to remain cautious and not react to the good news in the short term, but consider maintaining the conservative budget course we’re on and change course only when we’re confident that there’s a discernable and sustainable economic trend upwards. So, we’re cautiously hopeful.


One of the things that makes us hopeful is the wonderful year we’ve had with respect to development. Giving for us was up 16% over the prior year, up to $36.7 million, despite the economic downturn. A lot of that is because we are uncovering estates that we hadn’t claimed before, so it’s not something that can be repeated year after year, but it is impressive. Alumni outreach has increased dramatically, with more than 350 alumni attending last year’s inaugural Academic Festival in April, and I urge you all to attend. It’s an exciting event, and it’s wonderful to see so many people come back to the College.


And despite the economic downturn and its effects on the foundation sector, TC continued to do very well with respect to grants, which is evidence of our preeminence. We had external funding totally nearly 40 million in new grants last year. Highlights include nearly $5 million from the Gates Foundation to Professor Tom Bailey and the Community College Research Center for the project on “Transforming Community Colleges to Accelerate Postsecondary Success for Low-Income Young Adults.” Professor Anand Marri and his colleagues have received $2.45 million from the Peterson Foundation for their project on “Understanding Fiscal Responsibility: A Curriculum for Teaching about the Federal Budget, National Debt, and Budget Deficit,” which aims to increase the economic literacy of students in public schools. Meanwhile, Professors Chuck Basch and Randi Wolf received $2.1 million from the American Cancer Society for a study on colorectal cancer screening.


On the public side of funding, in early October, Professor Lin Goodwin was awarded a $9.75 million federal Teacher Quality Partnership grant to continue the legacy of its teacher training programs through a new, groundbreaking program aiming to improve teacher quality. By starting an urban teaching residency program, in which TC students will work as apprentices with experienced teachers in high-needs classrooms in New York City public schools for one year while earning master’s degrees, Teaching Residents at Teacher College (TR@TC) is part of a new push by the U.S. Department of Education to bring teacher education into the 21st century. Professor Goodwin’s program will recruit academically talented, diverse individuals from under-represented groups – for example, returning Peace Corps volunteers, veterans from the Armed Forces, and mid-career changers—and transform them into exemplary, highly qualified teachers who can capably meet the needs of children and youth in high-need, urban school districts such as New York City. The program will provide up to 60 residents annually (beginning with 20 in the first year and 40 the second year, ramping up to the full 60 in the following two years) with a substantial scholarship to TC, as well as a $22,500 annual stipend and health insurance. Residents will be required to teach for at least three years in a high-need school. By the end of the first four-year cycle, the program will train 180 new teachers, having the potential to impact nearly 70,000 students through their teaching.


Other federal grantees are Professors Chuck Kinzer and Joanne Kleifgen who received $1.5m from the Institute of Educational Sciences for a study of language teaching through technology, and Anne Rivet in Science Education who received almost a million dollars from the National Science Foundation for a study of learning earth science through table top models, which is very interesting.


We are continuing our work in Diversity and Community Affairs with community building initiatives, and linking to a strong effort by the Faculty Executive Committee Race, Culture, and Diversity Committee.


We have continued to work on our school partnerships agenda, and planning for our new, hoped for, dreamed about Pre-K-8th school continues. We’re delighted to have the support of Congressman Charles Rangel, who has called Secretary Duncan and President Obama’s attention to our desire to build a school that would represent the best of Teachers College and would also serve as a community school in the tradition of TC’s Speyer School. Have any of you heard of the Speyer School? I’m not talking about the Speyer School that was a school for gifted children; I’m talking about the Speyer School that was started over 100 years ago on 126th street to serve as a community school. It was open from 8 in the morning until 10 at night. It had housing for faculty and staff. It had full services for all the adults, the parents, as well as the children, and for community members, and it’s truly inspiring. It is a really inspiring vision, and when the Secretary was here, and he spoke to the Children’s Aid Society in this room before he spoke to us in Lerner, he talked about community schools and his vision for them. I mentioned the Speyer School then, actually quoted from Russell a whole description of that school, and that I felt that universities were the logical partners and leaders for community schools - because we have medical schools, and dental schools. We have all the services that can be brought to bear. Of course, Teachers College has so much of that under its one roof. And he said, “Well, maybe you can provide us with some leadership in that respect.” And I said, “We would love to!” So, I don’t know if he remembers, because he was also looking at his speech at the same time, but we’ll find ways to remind him of that.


Speaking of the schools as hubs of communities, that’s also a theme that we’ve been talking about as part of our academic planning, on all the research about how health outcomes could be improved through schooling, and about good models, for school engagement in community issues. So, when we talk about new research and ideas that distinguish TC and bring us together, that’s one of them. We’ve had great conversations also about linking cognitive studies to instruction, and about examining policies that cross the lifespan and look at transitions for students as they go from sector to sector in the education policy world. We’ve been talking about creativity and imagination, about how to teach creatively, and how to teach creativity, and also about global citizenship, and what that means. We live in a global world, but when it comes to our lives, we’re very often involved in sub-national issues, as well as being involved in supra-national issues, so all of those things have been inspiring discussions. We’ve talked about health in education, which fits really nicely with the communities and schools focus, as well. So, that’s been a very exciting aspect of this year that is interesting.


And, finally, I’ll turn to International Affairs, where we have implemented and expanded a number of partnership opportunities around the world. For example, the Teaching Institute for East China Normal University. We had over 20 incipient teachers here this summer. These are undergraduates from East China Normal in Shanghai who would like to become teachers. We have a science education program in Thailand, a TESOL program in Jordan, Diana Kunz’s work in the Dominican Republic, and so much more. We’ve had a lot of accomplishments. This year has been an exciting one. And it is a good occasion, as I said before, to remark on the impact of all that work.


Teachers College has focused on having an impact on its community – local and worldwide – since its inception. I want to quote to you from James Earl Russell, the first Dean, talking about Teachers College’s impact in 1900: “The influence we are even now exerting extends in all directions and includes within its scope all grades of public instruction, from the kindergarten to the university, and practically every phase of educational and philanthropic activity. Our efforts are not confined to any section of the country, nor are they restricted to any class or sect. As a national institution, therefore, we aim to serve a people that puts its trust in education as the surest guarantee of individual liberty and social righteousness.” With a few changes, because we don’t talk about sects so much today, that statement could be said right now, about our influence. We speak to all broadly, about issues of education and allied fields, and our scope is not limited. We have a local scope, of course, but we also have a national and international scope. So, it’s really terrific to see that those words apply, and in a much more amplified way today, 109 years later. Let me talk a little bit about the effects of our work, starting with research, moving on to the effects of our alums, our graduates, who go out there and change the world, and then moving on to our direct work in practice and in the world that we’re trying to help to make better.


With respect to our research, I’ll start with early childhood work and note that Professor Jeanne Brooks-Gunn has, over the course of her career, taken an enormous body of research on what doesn’t work in early childhood development and turned these findings into recommendations that allow for parents to make meaningful changes in their children’s ability to learn to read and write. And that work has been just recently recognized with one of the highest honors one can receive, which is that she was invited to join the Institute of Medicine, which is one of the National Academies.


You may know that part of the Higher Education Act Reauthorization that changes student loans also includes, should they have savings from the student loans, $8 billion for early childhood education. A fund being dedicated to improving standards and education for children under the age of 5, The Early Learning Challenge Fund is drawn primarily from Professor Lynn Kagan’s life’s work on improving early childhood education. Her findings that quality standards and improved curricula are critical at the pre-school level form the backbone for the legislation, which we hope will be realized.


Turning to K-12, my own colleagues in the Consortium for Policy Research in Education are having an effect on the movement toward common core standards in this country. We have been working to bring people together around the notion of learning progressions, which is the idea that there are trajectories through subject matter than can be specified and then validated, and that these trajectories should inform how standards are expressed. They should express a progression, and not a random assortment of skills, which is often what happened in the past when states put groups of people together to develop standards: you would get everyone’s opinions added together. I had a colleague who once said, “If you sit a fourth grader at a table and you put the pieces of paper on which the standards for the fourth grade are written in front of this child, and you can’t see the child over the pile of standards, that’s a problem.” So, these new common core standards, which are meant to be more streamlined and provide more concrete guidance – less abstract and less vague – are working their way through an extraordinary process for this country, a national voluntary process in which states are working together to develop these standards. They are not federal, the work is being funded by private foundations, and the states are working collectively. The Consortium for Policy Research in Education’s work on math progressions and science learning progressions is informing the development of standards in both those areas.


Also in K-12, you know there has been a lot of movement with regards to school choice, most recently with regards to increasing the number of charter schools, which has become an issue here in New York and elsewhere. In order to be eligible for new federal stimulus money, states are being encouraged to lift their caps on the number of charters and the like. Professor Luis Huerta has worked directly with the National Conference of State Legislators to help them develop their agenda around issues of school choice and charter legislation. Using his research on school choice and school finance, Professor Huerta’s work has had direct impact on the formation of the current education legislation being written by the House and the Senate.


At the high school level, a study titled "The Costs and Benefits of an Excellent Education for America's Children," conducted in 2007 by Professor Hank Levin, continues to bear directly on policymaking at the federal and state level. The study found that the U.S. taxpayer could reap $45 billion annually if the number of high school dropouts were cut in half using five cost-effective educational strategies already shown to boost high school graduation rates. The savings (which would average out to a net of $127,000 per each new graduate added) would be achieved via extra tax revenues, reduced costs of public health and crime, and decreased welfare payments. Even a one-fifth reduction in dropouts would result in an annual $18 billion public savings, the study found -- and that figure did not include the private benefits of improved economic well-being that would accrue to the new graduates themselves.


Moving on to community colleges, we have at the Community College Research Center under the leadership of Tom Bailey developed new metrics for understanding the enrollment patterns of community colleges students, particularly those initially placed in developmental or remedial coursework. He has presented these data to the relevant schools and states, and seven states (Maryland, Virginia, Texas, Florida, Connecticut, Washington, and California) now have major state-wide initiatives that aim to reform developmental education. This research, funded originally by the Lumina Foundation, has served as the basis for the new five million dollar Gates Foundation project. CCRC’s research has been influential in the shaping of the $12 billion community college legislation that is currently under Congressional consideration. I’m sure that that work on community colleges has not focused on the fact that they are bursting at the seams, or maybe not yet, but I suppose you all read today’s New York Times article about community college courses being offered 11:45pm to 2:15am. That’s quite amazing. Certainly community colleges have had issues with respect to developmental education – they spend so much of their energy preparing students to take advantage of postsecondary level courses - that the work of the CCRC has really been important. They have also dedicated a lot of their work, originally funded by the Lumina Foundation and now the basis of the $5 million Gates Foundation grant, to understanding the benefits of a college degree over simply attending college.


Our research impact has been in other fields besides education, per se. We of course have research in health and psychology as well. Some examples: Professors Basch and Wolf have found that technology, including telephone outreach, can vastly improve compliance with medical instructions in low-income urban minority populations. This finding is crucial to ensuring that these often underserved populations receive optimal healthcare. Professor George Bonnano’s work on personal resilience in the face of trauma has shaped the way that New York City has responded to those facing trauma in the wake of 9/11 and more recently, and has changed the way that the field of psychology views people’s responses to trauma.


We do wonderful research that has an impact, and we also have an impact through our students and alums, which is, of course, our primary mission – our main business: educating our students so that they can go out into the world. As you know, they’re our best ambassadors. They are what shapes TC’s reputation out in the world the most, because they are the face of Teachers College. And through them, we’ve had an extraordinary impact.


For example, our student teachers and our graduates work in New York City and have a major influence in the city schools. You’d be hard pressed to go into a school and not find a TC graduate in some role in that school. 89% of last years’ student teachers taught in public schools, and 77% taught in New York City public schools (teaching nearly 10,000 students in that year alone). They brought with them not only their TC educational background but also opportunities for additional funding. And one statistic which we only got permission to release last week because we wanted to share it with Secretary Duncan, which is that the Pathways Study, which studies movement through teacher education and then into their classrooms, found that 34% of those responsible for teacher education – those preparing new teachers in NYC - are graduates of either here or NYU. That’s extraordinary leverage that we have to realize and take advantage of. If you add our teachers of teacher education who go out and teach, and then you add all those who’ve gone to CUNY and all the other schools where the faculty represents Teachers College graduates, that’s an absolutely enormous influence.


We have a Peace Corps Fellows Program, which has trained 695 returning TC has trained 695 returning Peace Corps volunteers since 1985, when the College created the nation’s first Peace Corps Fellows Program, which fast-tracks volunteers into teaching jobs in high-needs, high-poverty New York City public schools. More than 300 of these teachers are still working classrooms today. Two things are particularly impressive about this program. It has an extremely high retention rate compared with other alternative certification programs. For example, 76% of its 2006 cohort are entering their fourth year of teaching this fall. In contrast, NYCDOE and the United Federation of Teachers estimate that between 40% and 45% of new teachers leave the city system within three years. Today, more than 40 universities offer Fellows programs – modeled on the original program at TC -- in a range of fields from international development to public health.


We are also distinguished by particular alums, not just by the groups – the hordes – who go out there and have enormous influence, but by individuals. Our alumnus David Johns, who you might recognize because he was on the cover of the catalog a few years ago, is Senior Education Advisor to the Senate Health Education Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee and will be very important in the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, or as we like to call it, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and other education legislation. Another TC alumna, White House Education Advisor Maryellen McGuire, has enormous influence. TC alumnus, former Klingenstein Fellow, and long-time teacher Kevin Jennings is now Assistant Deputy U.S. Secretary of Education for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools. And in New York, TC alumnus John King, who was Managing Director of Uncommon Schools, a non-profit charter school management organization, has recently been appointed the New York State Department of Education’s senior deputy commissioner for P-12 education, where he will lead the state’s school reform efforts. Of course the Chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents is also a TC alum, Merryl Tisch. After only a few months in the position, Tisch has already had a significant impact and is talking about a lot of changes in the future.


Our alumni are influential abroad, as well. Perhaps the most outstanding example is Nahas Angula, Prime Minister of Namibia, who returned to his home country to become their first Minister of Education with the goal of ending apartheid in the schools there. Using technology and other methods that he learned about at Teachers College, he has helped Namibia to develop what is now an undoubtedly successful model for education in Africa, including compulsory education for all children under sixteen years old, and colleges of education designed to produce future generations of teachers and educational leaders. Because of his work, I think it is safe to say the nearly ninety thousand school-aged students who would not have enrolled in school have had educational opportunities that would not have otherwise been available to them, and other developing nations have a successful K-16 educational model available to them.


The final category is our direct work, with schools, with communities, with organizations, here and throughout the world. Our college has always been unique for its direct work. I used these examples before – we started a school, Thorndike wrote books for teachers. In addition to their research, and their scholarly work, the early TC faculty all tried very hard to have their work apply in the real world. So it’s certainly a Teachers College tradition, and it’s one that we are continuing to follow.


The TC Reading and Writing Project, founded 25 years ago, works with perhaps a quarter of all elementary and middle schools in NYC, and is also active in a number of other cities around the US. Over the past two years, an estimated 15,000 students in the more than 300 participating schools have increased their proficiency scores in reading almost ten percent. Further, TCRWP schools showed a decrease in the number of students not meeting standards by almost 16%. Last year, over three-quarters of fourth grade students in long-term Project schools scored in the highest brackets on English Language Arts test scores, as compared to just over half of those in the rest of New York City.


We’re working hard on consolidating our work in local schools. And in developing TC partnership schools through the Office of School and Community Partnerships. Through its Office of School and Community Partnerships, TC has received more than $10 million in funding to partner closely with a group of Harlem public schools and community-based organizations to improve learning in the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math) and to do other work, such as after school programs. Further, the Heritage School, one of TC’s partners which we founded, recently received an A in its progress report, ranking it in the top 20% of NYC schools. Last year, the high school graduation rate was its highest ever, so we’re very, very proud of that. And we’re also glad that our partnership schools brought students to participate in activities here. Over 2000 students from partner schools had the opportunity to visit the College campus for a number of events, thus increasing their exposure to the arts and cultural programming that has been increasingly absent in the public schools.


Speaking of the arts, we work closely with Lincoln Center, and as the chief consultant to Lincoln Center’s Very Young People’s Concerts, Professor Lori Custodero has planned 9 sold-out concerts, providing over 4,000 young children and their parents the opportunity to hear and be educated about classical music. Teachers College remains very involved in the popular Jazz at Lincoln Center venue, further expanding musical offerings to New York.


Music is closely aligned to philosophy, and through the support provided by the Squire Family Fund grant, Professor David Hansen has partnered with New York City schools to talk to children about “big ideas.” I’m not sure these are the same as the big ideas we’re talking about at TC, but they’re maybe bigger ideas. Through this program, public school students have the opportunity to consider complex ideas of ancient and modern philosophers.


In the Social Studies program, Margaret Crocco has taught through the Teaching American History Grant in the Social Studies Program, over five hundred teachers in New York City and throughout the tri-state region new methods to teach history that have helped over ten thousand students have improved retention in learning US history.


Through funding from the Carnegie Corporation, a group of Teachers College faculty led by Professor Dolores Perin has designed two content literacy courses for middle and high school teacher candidates in science and social studies. By educating TC students about how to improve teaching in this area, the high rates of illiteracy in US schools are being combated. Because, as you know, many students in high school arrive not having learned to read appropriately and sufficiently in elementary schools – they arrive in high school without comprehension skills that they will need for their subjects.


Professor Lalitha Vasudevan has been conducting activism-based research by leading and studying a new program that brings performing arts into the lives of 300 incarcerated teens each year. Through the program, the recidivism rate amongst the participating teens has nearly halved, which is really impressive. And, also on the subject of prisons, Erick Gordon has had a tremendous impact on the lives of several dozen students incarcerated at Rikers Island by giving them a voice through journalism through Professor Ruth Vinz’s Student Press Initiative.


You know very well that we prepare lots of leaders at all levels – administrators for public and private schools, K-12 and also in higher education. A terrific piece of news came out recently about the Cahn Fellows program, which brings nominated principals together for 15 months who, while continuing as principals, come together every other month at TC for study group sessions in which they work on challenges they have identified in their own schools, using evidence about their schools and research in the field. A new Rand study looked at NYC principals’ impact on student performance, and found that the most significant association in terms of influencing students is behavior: the more experience the principal has, the better the students do. In the Cahn program, 15 months is equivalent to 5 years of experience in terms of student achievement in math. If we can improve principal performance that much, we’re doing something right.


I’ve been so far talking about the direct impact work at the local level, but we’ve had a lot of opportunity to influence what actually goes on in practice nationally, as well. We’ve talked about it before but it’s worth talking about again and again: in the Teaching “When the Levees Broke” curriculum, Margaret Crocco and her colleagues developed a program based on Spike Lee’s groundbreaking documentary on Hurricane Katrina. And 30,000 copies of that curriculum were downloaded – maybe more than one per school, but it’s still a lot of copies, and that number’s probably outdated – it’s now closer to 35,000 copies – because people keep wanting it. We hope that in helping students consider the complicated issues of race, class, and privilege through the lenses of civic engagement and democratic dialogue, we actually changed the way that schools and communities responded to tragedy.


We also have worked directly abroad. We have many activities that are directly engaged with teachers and other educators and community leaders and non-profit sin a number of different countries. CPRE has been instrumental in the design and realization of the Queen Rania Teaching Academy, through which 45 teachers in Jordan have already received certifications to teach English as a second language. Through the Teaching Academy, three school networks (eventually ratcheting up to 12) of 20 schools each are working towards improving math, science, and writing education. 250 teachers are engaged in this program already and it will scale up considerably. The work has also had a substantial impact on the Ministry of Education and their thinking about teacher quality. Many teachers in Jordan, and this is true in a lot of the developing world, certainly in the Middle East, graduated from their undergraduate college without any preparation for becoming teachers and went right into the classroom and the Ministry is thinking about what to do about that: whether they should develop a post-baccalaureate opportunity, for example. And the work that we’ve done has directly influenced those offerings, and we’ve provided in-service support to teachers.


Mun Tsang has been a leader in identifying barriers to education, particularly for those children in rural communities whose parents were unable to pay the government fees required to send their children to school. Because of his work, funded first by the Charles Schulz Foundation and now the Central Ministry of Finance, it could be argued that millions of schoolchildren (approximately 20% of the nearly two hundred million school-aged kids) – particularly girls – now have the opportunity to attend school because schooling has been extended to rural areas without feels, and that’s a major achievement.


For the past year, Professor Linda Hickson has been working with Dar Al Hekma University in Saudi Arabia, one of only two private women’s colleges in the country, to develop a special education master’s degree, which offers students the unique opportunity to develop skills in areas including learning disabilities, autism, school supervision, and assessment of exceptional children. This program, set to matriculate its first students this coming fall, builds on the undergraduate degree already available at Dar Al Hekma, where one of our alums, who worked with Linda, had gone.


In India, Professors Madhabi Chatterji and William Gaudelli have been working in collaboration to provide services to students, teachers, and schools throughout India in secondary schools. The project offers professional development to teachers in instructional design, as well as new curricula and learning outcomes assessments, for 80 students at 25 schools (where an estimated 15,000 students are enrolled). The project seeks to modernize the high school education available throughout India, to ensure that learning outcomes are being met by new and traditional curricula, and to increase college access for exemplary students by providing developmental support and funding.

The funders are very concerned about encouraging graduates to go into the public sector, which has not been a route that many of those who make it through college choose. They’ve been interested in entrepreneurship, or business, or technology, not in public sector leadership. And by engaging them in leadership opportunities in high school, and studying things like the sustainable environment and areas they can influence, we really think that we’re making a difference.


I mentioned Lynn Kagan’s domestic work before. Internationally, she has also had an enormous impact. Together with UNICEF, Professor Lynn Kagan has looked at data around children’s health – including issues like breastfeeding, child inoculations, and other indicators – in 124 developing nations (including Bangladesh, Laos, Cambodia, and several former Soviet republics). The team came up with a program that works directly with 45 countries around the planet to help in whatever ways analysis suggests that children need it the most. Working directly with ministers of education, NGO’s, and higher education leaders (where they exist), Professor Kagan’s team has developed a set of early learning standards for what each country wants its little children to know and be able to do, in very individualized ways. For example, in Mongolia – where residents are concerned about losing their national culture because of their location in between China and the former Soviet Union – there is an entire domain devoted to national heritage and Mongolian language. In Jordan, the nation’s strong commitment to spirituality has been incorporated in the standards. Professor Kagan’s work has not only influenced countless children in these 45 countries, but has done so in an individualized way not formerly seen in such large-scale policy work.


Of course, all of this international work has also provided opportunities for our students to expand their understanding of education beyond U.S. borders. In the last year, more than 50 students from departments throughout the College have directly engaged in our international work in some capacity.


To conclude this brief little summary of some of the influence we’re having: Secretary Duncan last week remarked on the success that Teachers College has had in changing the face of teacher education in this country. Clearly, Teachers College has had a profound impact not only on teacher education, but on a wide variety of issues – through research, policy, and outreach; in New York City, throughout the US, and beyond. I find this all enormously inspiring. I think if James Earl Russell were alive today, he would say much of what he said, 100 years ago, which is that our influence remains strong, and the State of the College is good. Thank you.





Published Friday, Nov. 6, 2009