New York State Education Commissioner Visits Lehman

NY State Education Commissioner John B. King, center, with President Fernández and Dr. Harriet Fayne, the Dean of the School of Education.

New York State Education Commissioner John B. King visited Lehman College’s School of Education on April 18 to learn more about the TQP Mathematics Achievement with Teachers in High-needs Urban Populations initiative, also known as MATH-UP. The program prepares aspiring childhood educators who are interested in working in South Bronx elementary schools with a specialized expertise in mathematics.

Education commissioner King and Assistant Commissioner Stephanie Wood- Garnett observed an education course at Lehman College and talked with the staff about the program, which is the only one of its kind in New York State. They also observed a TQP MATH-UP lesson taught by Professor Anne Marie Marshall in Lehman College Early Childhood and Childhood Education department to a group of Lehman Students, and visited two public school in the South Bronx where MATH-UP students intern for one year while taking classes.

Although the program focuses on training teachers who will able to improve the math level of elementary students in the South Bronx, it also works on developing their literacy skills.

“I do think people assume that they know how to teach reading and writing but it’s more complicated than that,” Commissioner King said. “The challenge that we have in literacy is that we have a false confidence. One of the worries that we have is that principals aren’t prepared to tell teachers whether or not they are prepared to teach math. I worry that many middle and high school principals struggle with that.”

MATH-UP prepares 125 elementary teachers from the Bronx, who are interested in working in the South Bronx as well as teaching students with special needs and learning how to instruct English language learners.  Abigail McNamee, the chair of the Early Childhood and Child Education department, told the commissioner that MATH-UP has inspired other education programs at Lehman.

“We’re using the MATH-UP program as a model really,” Dr. McNamee said. “MATH-UP also focuses of special education, it focuses on bilingual education, in addition to math, and we’re trying to restructure our non-funded programs. We’re trying to start their master’s degree work in their senior year to open up some space so that they can take bilingual courses and special aid courses so that they can be employable in more ways than one.”