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Northeastern program to address Boston graduation concern

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Northeastern University President Joseph E. Aoun and Boston School Superintendent Carol Johnson have announced the launch of an innovative partnership to give Boston public high school graduates a solid preparation for college or the workplace.

The pilot program, to begin in fall 2009, will give Boston public high school graduates a rigorously academic first-year college experience, combined with assistance in strengthening academic, social, and employment skills.

“The stakes are high now,” said the mayor during a press conference at Northeastern on Monday. “Our kids need to stay in college and graduate.”

“Northeastern has a long history of opportunity, a dedication to partnering with the community and a commitment to the integration of work and learning,” said Menino. “The university is in a unique position to lead this effort.”

Aoun called the program “yet another manifestation of Northeastern’s commitment to the city of Boston and its public schools.”

“We are excited about the program design because it includes such services as coaching, tutoring, mentoring, social and employment skills and student support,” said Johnson. “It uses time-on-task, context and structured experience to ensure students meet the expectations and standards of a freshman year.”

At the press conference, Aoun said the new program will accept students who “are not prepared for college. It’s a risk, but it’s a calculated risk.” The program, he said, “will bring them to a level of readiness” to complete their college careers.

Boston graduates who complete the Northeastern program will earn college credit recognized by partnering institutions. In addition, the curriculum will also meet entry-level job requirements for partner industries, giving students the option of entering the workforce and completing their degrees on a part-time basis.

Northeastern is in talks with several two- and four-year institutions and business partners, and plans to work with two to three colleges during the pilot period.

Aoun said that during the current economic downturn, Boston’s institutions of higher education must strengthen their community engagement. “This is not a time for retrenchment. It is a time to redouble our efforts,” he said.

“Creating paths to learning is both a moral obligation and a matter of economic sense. Higher education is the pipeline of intellectual capital that will help Boston and the nation recover and prosper,” he said. “Northeastern’s resources have long been at the service of the community, and especially the Boston public schools.”

Photo by Craig Bailey:

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino speaks at a press conference at Northeastern on Monday, flanked by Dr. Gary Gottleib of the Boston Private Industry Council, left, and Northeastern President Joseph Aoun.

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