Press Release: Graduate Center Aims to Improve Inner City Math Education Projects Also Part of Larger, $10 Million Consortium

As part of a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation to a three-school consortium, The Graduate Center of The City University of New York will conduct two unique projects aimed at improving mathematics education in inner city schools. One will organize parents and other community members in low income neighborhoods to help reform mathematics education in their schools and the other will identify aspects applicable to mathematics of the 'cultural capital' that low-income minority students bring to school.

The Graduate Center will also participate in the shared activities of “Metro Math: The Center for Mathematics in Americas Cities,” which brings together The Graduate Center, Rutgers --- the State University of New Jersey, and the University of Pennsylvania with other institutions, and school districts in New York City, Philadelphia, and Newark in a five-year multi disciplinary partnership. Encompassing a diverse faculty with specialties in mathematics, mathematics education, cognitive science, urban studies, and urban education, the partnership as a whole will undertake initiatives aimed at improving student understanding of mathematics, developing leadership for implementing improvements, and developing a research-based framework for successful mathematics education in America’s cities.

Commenting on the first of The Graduate Center’s specific projects, Professor of Urban Education Jean Anyon said “Most New York City schools in low-income communities, for example, do not offer the mathematics courses necessary for competing for entrance to the special high schools like Stuyvesant. Most high schools in New York City that low-income black and Latino students attend don't offer any advanced math courses. The lack of these gate-keeper courses closes doors, and we will organize parents to help combat this situation.”

Anyon, who will also head the work of Metro Math at The Graduate Center, said about the cultural capital project: “Students and families in low-income black and Latino neighborhoods have experiences, knowledge, and skills that teachers and schools do not identify or valorize in teaching and curriculum development, but that would be extremely useful. The grant will fund researchers who will identify aspects of cultural capital of students and other community members, and will prepare math teachers and mathematics leaders to incorporate these into school curriculum and pedagogy.”

Overall, Metro Math will offer two-year seminars and mentored internships for 50 graduate students and 100 working teachers, each of whom will earn a special certificate. The seminars will be aimed at developing teachers’ knowledge of mathematics, how it is learned and how it may best be taught, as well as to enhance their leadership skills and understanding of urban communities and to prepare them for further career possibilities.

The center will also involve urban communities in supporting mathematics education by soliciting parents to help in mathematics instruction and to advocate for strong schools in their communities. Churches and civic associations will be tapped to promote successful mathematics learning, a tactic that has worked in literacy campaigns in the past.

The Graduate Center is the doctorate-granting institution of The City University of New York. The only consortium of its kind in the nation, The Graduate Center draws its faculty of more than 1,600 members mainly from the CUNY senior colleges and cultural and scientific institutions throughout New York City.

According to the most recent National Research Council report, more than a third of The Graduate Center's rated Ph.D. programs rank among the nation's top 20 at public and private institutions, nearly a quarter are among the top ten when compared to publicly supported institutions alone, and more than half are among the top five programs at publicly supported institutions in the northeast.

Submitted on: OCT 1, 2003

Category: Mathematics, Press Room