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City University of New York: Lessons For Louisiana?

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A new study published by the Pelican Institute addresses the issue of unprepared students and institutional mismatch in Louisiana’s higher education system.

As reported in the study, Louisiana has lower rates of high school completion, lower average test scores, and fewer students taking college-preparatory classes than most other states.

The City University of New York faced similar challenges. In 1999, the CUNY Board of Trustee undertook a series of reforms targeting its flawed education system. CUNY introduced tighter admission standards, appointed a strong leader for the system, and successfully raised academic standards.

The Pelican Institute believes Louisiana should take the CUNY transformation as an example as it seeks to reform its higher education system. Some major themes policymakers should keep in mind are:

  • The need for strong and effective policymakers
  • The importance of engaged governing boards and focused administrators
  • An improved curriculum throughout K-12 education

As Sandra Diaz points out:

“The reforms at CUNY serve as a reminder that with the right combination of smart policymaking and action on the part of the governing board, it is possible to turn a challenging situation into one with a promising future.”

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