The following can be attributed to Dia Bryant, executive director of The Education Trust–New York:
“Governor Hochul’s State of the State agenda includes several promising proposals to advance educational equity in New York State from birth through college and into the workforce. During these uncertain times, and as the state continues to look for ways to help New Yorkers recover from the ongoing pandemic, we are encouraged that this administration is prioritizing issues such as access to high-quality, affordable child care and setting an equitable attainment goal that will help ensure citizens who have been historically underserved by our higher education system have the opportunity to earn a postsecondary credential. We look forward to seeing how these proposals advance during this year’s state legislative session, along with other critical equity issues.”
Among the promising proposals:
Improving access to dual enrollment programs and other advanced courses
Background: Even before the pandemic, students from low-income backgrounds and American Indian, Black, and Latinx students were less likely to be enrolled in key advanced courses than their not-low-income and White peers. To achieve equitable outcomes—better graduation rates, college matriculation and completion rates, career placement, family-sustaining wages, and greater civic engagement—New Yorkers must insist on equitable access to rigorous instruction, support from strong educators, and enrollment in the full range of courses that lead to college and career preparedness for all students. In previous years, Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes and Sen. John Liu have introduced legislation that would ensure more students have access to advanced courses.
“Our path to academic recovery requires acceleration. For far too long, students of color and students from low-income backgrounds have been denied the opportunity to participate in advanced and rigorous coursework that will put them on the path to their desired future after high school. Governor Hochul’s proposal to invest in expanding access to dual enrollment programs is a promising start to ensuring all students have the opportunity to take courses that will allow them to accrue college credits, and we look forward to learning more about how the state will ensure these opportunities are both equitable and rigorous for all students.”
Setting an equitable statewide attainment goal
Background: Now more than ever, economic opportunity and financial security are intertwined with educational attainment. Committing to an attainment goal of two thirds of New Yorkers of all races and ethnicities by 2030 would mean that more than 6.5 million residents would hold a postsecondary degree or credential by 2030. REACH NY’s report Aiming Higher explains how adopting an ambitious and equity-driven postsecondary attainment goal and enacting the policy changes needed to meet it would advance the pathway to a stronger economy and more equitable future for all New York residents.
“Setting an equity-driven attainment goal is a crucial step to putting all New Yorkers on the path to earning a family-sustaining income and accelerating our state’s economic recovery. We commend Governor Hochul for including this important proposal in her blueprint for the coming year and look forward to working alongside our partners to ensure that the state adopts an attainment goal that creates opportunities for all New Yorkers.”
Expanding New York’s Tuition Assistance Program to include part-time students
Background: Access to financial aid, including New York’s Tuition Assistance Program, can be a critical piece to helping students from low-income backgrounds, especially first-generation students, achieve the dream of an advanced degree. Yet New York’s TAP program currently limits eligibility to students who attend school full time, excluding thousands of New Yorkers from receiving this much needed financial support, including the many who have been impacted by the criminal justice system.
“Expanding access to New York State’s Tuition Assistance Program will be a gamechanger for the thousands of college students who attend school part time, including first-generation college students, those who need to work to help cover the costs of their education, students who have been impacted by the criminal justice system, and other individuals who have been historically underserved by our higher education system. New York’s economic recovery depends on developing a workforce that has ample opportunities to hone the skills needed to excel in their chosen profession and earn a family-sustaining wage, and that starts with taking to steps to make college more affordable for all New Yorkers who choose to pursue higher education.”
Improving access to high-quality, affordable child care
Background: High-quality child care gives children from all backgrounds the opportunity for social, emotional, and intellectual development during the most critical years of brain development. It also provides parents with significant support and allows them to participate in the workforce. But the cost of child care in New York is too high for most families. And more than three in five New Yorkers live in communities with few or no child care options. Among parents of infants and toddlers, nearly nine in 10 parents indicated in a February 2021 poll that they worry their child’s social, emotional, and cognitive development will suffer as a result of the ongoing pandemic. An August poll found that nine out of 10 New York City residents indicated that access to child care is a burden for families.
“We are grateful that Governor Hochul’s State of the State agenda recognizes the importance of expanding access to affordable, high-quality child care as a key strategy for New York’s economic recovery and growth. The Governor’s proposal to increase access to child care for 100,000 New York families and invest $75 million into wages for child care workers are crucial first steps that will make early childhood programs available to more families.”