Children's Community School Keynote

Last Updated Apr 2012


Reflections on the Value of Engaging Young Minds and Staying the Course to Completion of a College Education 

Good evening.  It is an honor to be here this evening.  Thank you for your kind introduction. Dr. Barbara Ruggiero, Director of the Children’s Community School, Members of the Board of Directors, distinguished honorees, ladies and gentlemen.  It is a pleasure to be here to bring words of congratulations to this evening of celebration for Children’s Community School.  This evening we follow in the proud of history of recognizing the valuable presence and contribution of distinguished members of our Children’s Community School:  congratulations to you and your respective families on this meaningful achievement and for hosting this event.

I am delighted to note that Naugatuck Valley Community College and the Children Community School have been collaborating this year in the form of having six Americorps grant-funded mentors at the school from Monday through Friday. I am, also going to seize this moment, to talk about a subject very dear to my heart and very important to the future of Connecticut:  Coming together to educate our young and to create meaningful pathways for their education.

The distinguished 19th  century Puerto Rican educator, philosopher and fiction writer Eugenio María de Hostos said:

“No basta enseñar conocimientos, hay que enseñar a adquirirlos; no basta dar ciencia hecha; es necesario enseñar a formarla; no basta sujetarse y sujetar a la enseñanza en un método; es necesario enseñar a manejarlo.  En una palabra; no basta enseñar a conocer; hay necesidad de enseñar a razonar.”   Teach our people to reason; teach our young people to be life-long learners.  Create a space for education to have meaning for them, to enter their imagination as a very real possibility for their lives.

Contemporary studies about educating our youth point to the role a family is to play.   Many recent studies, including a monograph published by the American Association of University Women, prove that it is not additional work, compensated or not, on behalf of families that keep our students from graduating.  In fact, it appears not to have such an impact.  It is then, about what is presented to children as what is achievable; as what they can aspire to.  Again, Eugenio María de Hostos, Puerto Rican by birth, but a citizen of the Americas and a reformer of educational systems in Chile, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, argued as early as 1873 that all of us human beings ought to be educated to be full citizens and complete human beings, for our own sake, as well as for the sake of the society we contribute to.  Hostos believed in educating women in the study of  Math and Science (I smile as I think about how this debate has continued to our day).  As the forty-three years history of meaningful engagement the Children’s Community School exemplifies, we all need to get involved.  We all need to insist that our children get the proper preparation so that they may take by no later than the ninth grade a course in Algebra 1 and a course in hard sciences.

Why am I saying this? Algebra, hard sciences and foreign languages by the eighth or ninth grade are clear indicators of future college success. Right now statistics show that a student who graduates from College earns about 87% more than her counterpart with a high school diploma; much more than that for her counterpart who has no diploma at all.  A worker who has a college degree will also earn significantly more than his counterpart with a high school diploma (60%).  It all makes sense.  Let me underscore in the U.S. we are attending college in record numbers, as per the Pew Research Center reports.   Great news for us! However, and this is a HOWEVER in capital letters, what we need is to graduate!!!!

What are some of the strategies that have worked?

  1. We need to make every effort to create a habit of studying- perseverance and discipline are essential;
  2.  We must insist on this:  Our children must take Algebra and biology or chemistry early on in their high school studies. Students who take Algebra and Science in the 9th grade have a much higher rate of going to and graduating from College;
  3. We must explore every possibility available in terms of advanced placement courses or college-level courses in high school to lessen the cost of college education. I venture to say in the context of this gathering, that The Children’s Community School should be encouraged to explore the Bard College model or the Early College High School model followed by the NYC Board of Education in collaboration with The City University of New York.  Alderman’s “The Tool Box” links early course rigor to baccalaureate completion. In sum, we need to explore the creation of pathways, beginning with the six grade, to an associate degrees attainment in conjunction with a high school diploma, tied to a career or to transfer to a baccalaureate institution .
  4. We must explore availability of scholarships
  5. We should try in every possible way to study full-time-full time students have a much higher rate of completion.  Part time students have a very low rate of completion of college degrees.

Above all, we must collect all the support available to us.  Let us come together as a Waterbury family to support our students by creating a home environment that says at every step of the way, yes, you can,, and yes, you have our support, and yes, you must and will graduate from Naugatuck Valley Community College.

Dear students and your families,  I am waiting for you at Naugatuck Valley Community College.  Thank you, and let’s continue to move forward together.

Children’s Community School
April 17, 2012
Reflections on the Value of Engaging Young Minds and Staying the Course to Completion of  a College Education

Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Ph.D.
President
Naugatuck Valley Community College