New York: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

New York City's public school system is the largest in the nation, serving more than one million children. Until recently, school district activities were dictated by the New York City Board of Education, which gained a reputation for poorly serving its student population. Soon after taking office, Mayor Bloomberg abolished the Board of Education and assumed mayoral control of New York Public Schools under a school governance agreement. One of Bloomberg's campaign promises was to create special classrooms that would keep students with multiple disciplinary infractions involved in education but in a controlled setting. As a result, the district opened 20 New Beginnings Centers by 2004 along with five off-site Suspension Centers that operate in partnership with community-based organizations to provide a complete range of student support services.

The school system leans toward the magnet model, with a variety of specialized learning institutions within the elementary, middle, and high school strata. Concentrations include leadership studies, writing and communication, culinary arts, technology, computer science, international relations, performing arts, law, social justice, aerospace, and sports professions to name just a few. In the fall of 2005, the Department of Education plans to open more than 50 new small secondary schools across the city, in an effort to broaden the academic choices available to students and their parents or guardians. The new schools will concentrate on an academically rigorous curriculum, personalized to each student and enhanced with community partnerships. In addition, there are 48 charter schools in operation within the district, which is divided into 10 regions that are loosely based on sections of the five New York City boroughs.

New York City public schools tend to have fewer teachers, administrators, and librarians than the state average; spending per pupil also lags behind the state average. Approximately 54.3 percent of the city's public school students graduate from high school, while the district sends about 71.5 percent of that diminished group on to an institution of higher education.

Many private K-12 schools operate in the New York City area, some of which are secular and some of which are religiously based. Since the city is a major television and film production center, a number of acting and technical schools related to the industry have been created.

The following is a summary of data regarding the New York City public schools as of the 2004–2005 school year.

Total enrollment: 1,047,156

Number of facilities

elementary schools: 616

junior high schools: 221

senior high schools: 295

special education schools: 57

Student/teacher ratio: 12.5:1

Teacher salaries (2004)

minimum: $39,900

maximum: $81,232

Funding per pupil: $11,627

Public Schools Information: Chancellor's Office, New York City Department of Education, New York, NY 10007; telephone (212)374-5115

Colleges and Universities

New York is the only U.S. city with a large public-university system. The City University of New York (CUNY) offers open admission at its 20 sites to all New York City residents with a high school degree. With branches in all five boroughs, CUNY embraces eight liberal arts colleges, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the New York City College of Technology, the City University School of Law, business programs, and graduate degree programs. The extensive State University of New York (SUNY) system operates several specialized branches in the city, such as the Fashion Institute of Technology, the Downstate Medical Center, the State College of Optometry, and the Maritime College.

More than two dozen private colleges in New York City provide access to associate, baccalaureate, masters, and doctoral degrees. New York University is one of the largest private institutions of higher education in the country, enrolling almost 40,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs with a focus on the arts. Columbia University belongs to the Ivy League and is the city's oldest college. Columbia is renowned for its journalism program and has gained a reputation for its medical research work. Yeshiva University, a private Jewish academic research institution, enrolls almost 7,000 students in graduate and undergraduate programs in its Albert Einstein School of Medicine and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. The Julliard School is considered one of the best music, dance, and theater schools in the country. In recent years, Juilliard has begun to focus on community outreach, the interface of technology and art, and interdisciplinary programming. Fordham University is a Jesuit institution with a specialty in medieval studies, while Rockefeller University is famous for its biomedical sciences. The Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, which opened in 1993, offers a master of arts degree. The New School in New York was formerly the New School for Social Research, and it has retained that academic bent.

Libraries and Research Centers

The New York Public Library system, like the city itself, is immense. Five central libraries, four specialized research libraries, and 80 branch facilities hold collections of more than 19 million books system-wide, in addition to 1.6 million audio resources, 205,074 video materials, and more than 85,000 periodicals. The Science, Industry and Business Library (SIB), which opened in 1996, is the nation's largest public information center dedicated to science and business. The SIB houses more than 2 million volumes and 60,000 periodicals and provides users with broad access to electronic science and business content via 150 networked computer work stations. Among the research centers' special collections are the Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, which includes the Vladimir Nabakov Archive; manuscripts and archives of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; and the Theater on Film Archive, which preserves videotapes of live theater performances accumulated for more than 25 years.

In addition to the city library system, more than a thousand other libraries are operated in the city by schools, private groups, and most museums. The Pierpont Morgan Library is known for its collection of rare books and manuscripts. The Morgan Library is on the grounds of a 45-room Victorian brownstone, connected to the library by a glass-enclosed conservatory. In 2005, the library temporarily closed for a major expansion effort that will improve the entrance, internal circulation, the galleries, and auditorium space. Masonic literature, history, and relics are collected in the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of Grand Lodge, while the New Historical Society houses a fine collection of materials relevant to New York's role in early United States history. At the United Nations, the Dag Hammarskjold Library specializes in international affairs and world peace with an aim of getting U.N. members the best information possible as quickly as possible. The U.S. National Archives for the Northeastern United States houses such items as court records from the Rosenberg and Hiss cases, limitation of liability suits involving the Titanic, and census records since 1790 on microfilm.

With its universities and industry research campuses, New York City has become a global contributor in practically all areas of research and development. On average, the city receives $1.2 billion in funding from the National Institute of Health, underwriting the efforts of its 128 resident Nobel Laureates and other members of the scientific community. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority assesses public utilities, conducts research on energy efficiency and alternative power, and supports projects in schools, municipalities, and local industries. New York University is a leading research center with programs in medicine and health fields, international studies, urban affairs, and Latin America. The State University of New York maintains a research foundation that supports efforts across the SUNY system of universities. Recent projects include a study of brain cell behavior and methods of preventing blindness. Columbia University's Center for Environmental Research and Conservation studies nature and wildlife issues nationally and globally. Among the independent organizations researching health areas are those focusing on drug addiction, blood disorders, hearing problems, genetic disorders, and psychiatric issues. The New York Botanical Garden studies the flora of the New World, catalogs five million samples in its herbarium, and publishes the Botanical Review. Offering research and consultation on government public policy is the Institute of Public Administration. The New York Public Interest Research group conducts consumer-interest, environmental, energy, governmental system, social justice, and health research. The United Nations Institute for Training and Research studies all aspects of United Nations policy, operation, and organization.

Public Library Information: The New York Public Library, 188 Madison Ave #1, New York, NY 10016; telephone (212)930-0800; fax (212)921-2546