Educational opportunities for Long Islanders abounded this year, with one of the biggest stories coming in April with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s unveiling of the Excelsior Scholarship, a proposal that made college tuition-free for New York’s middle class families at all SUNY and CUNY two- and four-year colleges. Calling a college education an “absolute necessity for any chance at economic mobility,” Cuomo worked with U.S. Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to come up with the program, which opens doors of opportunity to thousands of full-time students. The new program began in the fall of 2017 and will be phased in over three years, beginning for New Yorkers making up to $100,000 annually in the fall of 2017, increasing to $110,000 in 2018, and reaching $125,000 in 2019.
Increasing opportunities was also the goal when Holy Cross High School, traditionally an all-boys Roman Catholic school, made the decision to open its doors to young women starting fall 2018. Eighteen of the 22 congregation of Holy Cross-sponsored secondary and post-secondary academic institutions in the United States are now co-educational.
With science’s role expanding in the world, making sure students have a well-rounded, engaging education is crucial. This year, the New York State Board of Regents approved new P-12 Science Learning Standards to ensure that educators had flexibility in designing lessons that would stimulate interest, as well as make sure students would be well-prepared for the future. The new standards align with science education and cognitive research on how students learn science. It allows for three-dimensional learning, which includes increased opportunities for students to engage with natural science phenomena.
On the higher-education level, local institutions received recognition for their groundbreaking achievements. Hofstra University’s music department and its bachelor of science degree in music business program was once again recognized by Billboard magazine as one of the country’s Best Music Business Schools, and the State University of New York followed in the footsteps of Farmingdale State College in teaming up with National Grid to offer a workforce partnership. The program—a Natural Gas Technician Certificate—is the first of its kind in the energy industry, and is training up the next generation of clean energy employees.