As the chancellor of New York City's public schools explains, graduating from high school is not necessarily the same as being ready for college.
From one perspective, Tanairy Carbo, 19, represents how far New York City public schools have come over the last ten years.
In high school, Tanairy lived in public housing in the South Bronx; in middle school, her family briefly lived in a shelter. She attended a small public high school, one of several that replaced the former South Bronx High School, where the graduation rate hovered around 45 percent for years. Tanairy, the youngest of eight siblings, became the first in her family to graduate from high school, and 72 percent of her class graduated with her.
And yet Tanairy's story is also an example of how far we -- and schools across the United States -- have to go. When she graduated from high school, Tanairy was not academically ready for Binghamton University, the college where she was headed, and had to enroll in remedial classes.
Nationally, just 25 percent of 2011 graduates who took the ACT college-entrance exam met four college readiness benchmarks; and more than a million college freshmen take remedial classes each year. For decades, preparing students to graduate from high school was sufficient: In 1973, only 28 percent of workers aged 25 to 54 had any post-secondary education, according to the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce. But as the economy has demanded better educated workers -- 59 percent of workers had more than a high school degree in 2007, and an estimated 63 percent of New York State jobs will require post-secondary education by 2018 -- public education in the US has not kept pace. Tanairy learned the hard way that graduating from high school is not necessarily the same as being ready for college.