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Paterson: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

In 1998, a New Jersey Supreme Court decision required that the Paterson Public School District offer students an education at the level guaranteed by the constitution, spurring whole school reform efforts throughout the district. The emphasis in all Paterson schools was on individualized learning in a civil environment; in response, a number of specialized academies and charter schools have been created. At the Martin Luther King, Jr., Educational Complex, the Coalition of Essential Schools model drives educational and student conduct services. An underpinning of democracy encourages student participation, civility, and commitment to educational resources. The Dr. Frank Napier, Jr., School of Technology is unique in its high tech offerings to elementary school-age students, preparing them both for their academic and career futures. The Roberto Clemente School, located in a predominantly African American and Latino area of Paterson, celebrates the multicultural aspects of the city and the microcosm of the classroom. The EARTH Academy (Environmental Academy for Research, House Technology and Health) is based at Eastside High School and combines experiential learning during fieldtrips with classroom instruction. Rosa Parks High School houses the Rosa L. Parks School of Fine and Performing Arts, offering a college preparatory curriculum designed to lead students directly into degree programs in music, drama and creative writing.

Paterson Public School District is also the umbrella for several early childhood education programs, adult continuing education, and alternative schools for students whose learning styles or discipline issues make them candidates for discovery, expeditionary, and experiential education.

The following is a summary of data regarding the Paterson public school system as of the 2004–2005 school year.

Total enrollment: 27,000

Number of facilities

elementary and middle schools: 29

high schools: 5

other: 3 middle school academies; 23 high school academies

Student/teacher ratio (2004): 11:1

Teacher salaries

minimum: $40,000

maximum: $85,000

Funding per pupil: $12,351

An assortment of religiously-based private schools also operate in the area.

Public Schools Information: Paterson Public School District, 33 Church Street., Paterson, NJ 07505; telephone (973)321-0909

Colleges and Universities

One of nine New Jersey public institutions of higher education, William Paterson University sits on 370 wooded acres in the northern part of the state. The student body of 11,409 men and women can concentrate in any of 31 undergraduate programs or 19 graduate programs within its five colleges, including Education, Business, Arts and Communication, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Science and Health. Specialized learning centers for high-tech finance and professional sales have been added to the campus, reflecting Paterson's continuing move to service industries.

Passaic County Community College (PCCC) is a two-year public college with its main campus in Paterson and branches in the New Jersey communities of Wanaque and Wayne. PCCC offers its enrollment of 6,300 the opportunity to pursue more than 40 associate degrees and certifications in such fields as allied health, business, liberal arts, criminal justice, nurse education, radiography, and technology. The school also offers extensive programs in basic skill English, reading, math, and English as a second language. Some courses are also instructed in Spanish.

The Garret Mountain campus of Berkeley College of Business confers the degree of associate in applied science in such fields as business, accounting, management, travel and tourism, paralegal studies, and various fashion fields. The school enrolls more than 700 full- and part-time students.

Libraries and Research Centers

The Paterson Free Public Library was established in 1885, making it the oldest public library in New Jersey. The system consists of a main library facility and three branches, housing more than 308,000 volumes and more than 350 periodical subscriptions. Special collections include African American history materials, collectible banknotes, genealogy materials, local history, and career resources. Local art collectors have over the years bestowed a wealth of paintings to the library, with an emphasis on late 19th and early 20th century works. In 2002 the library was the recipient of a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grant, allowing for installation of 34 new computers throughout the Free Public Library system. Internet and word processing functions are available to library visitors. The library system additionally has opened a Community Learning Center that advertises GED preparation, reading and basic math tutoring, English as a Second Language instruction, and family literacy classes to the public.

The Passaic County Historical Society Library maintains special collections on Passaic County and northern New Jersey history. St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center supports its graduate medical education program with a full medical sciences library consisting of 3,000 books, 300 current periodicals and journals, and 600 audio-visual resources. Students can also tap into the National Library of Medical Databases onsite. The hospital has become more involved with clinical and basic research over the years, including clinical trials of various drug interventions. Recent research studies included exploration of a specific protein that contributes to severe bleeding disorders in patients with leukemia.

The David and Lorraine Cheng Library at William Paterson University provides access to a wealth of printed materials, including maps, atlases, newspapers, dictionaries, government publications, and almanacs. Library users can surf online databases for research and reference materials. The university also houses research facilities equipped to study biochemistry, molecular biology, neurobiology, and DNA.

Other local libraries include those of Passaic County Community College and the Passaic County Law Library.

Public Library Information: Paterson Public Library, 250 Broadway, Paterson, NJ 07501; telephone (973)321-1223