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Improving Learning in Our Cities

To improve learning we must also improve the conditions in families, communities, neighborhoods and cities that make learning possible
As we look for ways to unite our many strengths at Teachers College, increasingly we have focused on learning as an imperative for the 21st century. We believe the time has arrived when we must improve learning to ensure the competitiveness of this nation with others, and to help all people realize the benefits of a global economy. We are confident we will succeed because of our growing understanding of cognitive processes and of the brain itself, and because of the development of an array of new learning-centered strategies
and technologies.
To improve learning we must also improve the conditions in families, communities, neighborhoods and cities that make learning possible. As you’ll discover in this issue of TC Today, the College is drawing on its broad expertise across disciplines to do precisely that.
To cite just a few examples:
In the area of adolescent health, Professor Chuck Basch has pulled together a powerful new meta-study that illustrates, as never before, how a constellation of health conditions are hindering the nation’s young people (and urban minority youth in particular) from achieving in school. Chuck’s even greater contribution is his vision for a nationally coordinated response, mediated through our public schools.
In a unique practicum in our organizational psychology program, Professor Debra Noumair and her students are helping New York City nonprofits solve issues of strategic focus, leadership transition, workload management and more. Working with Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the American Jewish World Service, the Pratt Center for Community Development and other clients is great experience for our students. But the practicum also has emerged as a valued citywide resource that is hugely beneficial to clients as well.
In Newark, Mayor Cory Booker, who is a Trustee of Teachers College, is grappling with the full range of urban challenges that we, as an institution, engage on an ongoing basis. Under his leadership, Newark has led the nation in reducing violent crime. Now, the city is creating a unique partnership between charter schools and its own traditional public school district. If successful, the result could stand as model for the rest of the nation.
Meanwhile, TC’s own Office of School and Community Partnerships is forging a remarkable collaboration with a group of neighboring Harlem public schools that focuses on curricula and professional development in science, technology, engineering and math. We also are moving forward in creating our own pre-K–8 public school, which we hope to open in Harlem in fall of 2011.
If there is a drawback to an issue titled “TC and the City,” it is that we lack space to include all that could be part of it. The arts, for example, are largely absent here. So stay tuned for our next issue, which will focus on creativity and the imagination—qualities without which learning in any century would be very poor indeed.

Published Wednesday, May. 19, 2010


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