December 4, 2011
By Bendix Anderson
Everyone should have the chance to go to college — but many students don’t get the support they need to reach their full potential.
“We have come to tolerate a separate but unequal system of education,” said Dr. Robert Teranishi, Associate Professor of Higher Education at New York University. Teranishi was the keynote speaker at “Closing the Opportunity Gap, Preparing Chinese Students for College and Career,” a conference held at the Metropolitan College of New York (MCNY) December 2.
High academic achievement is the stereotype Asian students — but the reality more complicated. Many subgroups, such as Hmong refugees or Chinese immigrants who speak obscure dialects can face high barriers and little encouragement on their journey to academic success. The conference, sponsored by TD Bank was designed to help tear those barriers done by sharing information and research with the roughly 100 education specialists who attended.
The conference included a delegation of educators from Shanghai and a panel of Chinese students who successfully navigated the New York City public school system despite language issues, bullying and other challenges.
MCNY was founded in 1964 as a college for working people — specifically as a job-training program for women on welfare. Today MCNY is a fully accredited nonprofit university based in Lower Manhattan with 1,200 students with strong programs in the social services, teacher training and health care fields. This January, MCNY plans to open a new, second campus in the Bronx. Just 60 students will enroll in the first semester of classes, though enrollment should expand to 200 at the facility.
Simple geography makes Asian-Americans a natural constituency for MCNY, which is located a few blocks away from New York City’s Chinatown. “We are reaching out to on of the communities that still has a large working class presence in Manhattan,” said MCNY President Vinton Thompson.