Jersey City Superintendent on the Challenges in Urban Education
As part of "The Future of Urban Education" series, Dr. Marcia Lyles, Superintendent of Jersey City Public Schools, talks about the greatest challenges facing urban education. She also describes the MOSAIC curriculum and how this plan is improving temperament and culture within the classrooms in Jersey City.
"Hi, I'm Steve Adubato, coming to you from Newark, New Jersey, the North Ward Center, which is a community-based organization here in the heart of Newark. We just finished a very spirited and important discussion on the future of urban education, and one of the most distinguished panelists we had is with us now. She is Doctor Marcia Lyles, Superintendent of the Jersey City Public Schools. Doctor, thank you for joining us. No, thank you for having me. Biggest lesson you took away from... message you took away from that, really, hour and a half discussion on urban America and urban education? It was clear we have shared issues, shared aspirations, and a shared commitment. So you know, in Jersey City, it's interesting. Only a few miles away from Newark. You come from New York originally? Right. So you know urban education in a big sense? Yes. What are some of the most significant challenges facing urban schools in this nation? Well you know, as I said, during the panel discussion, for me, one of the biggest challenges is to ensure equity. Jersey City Public Schools, for instance, is a very diverse district, but not all our schools are diverse. And subsequently, some of our children are not achieving at the same levels, do not have the same opportunities, and so the challenge is to use the talent and the commitment, but to drive that into real outcomes for our children. So that's probably the biggest challenge we have. You know, when I was asking... excuse me, in the forum, to what degree other folks seem to care outside of cities, in suburban and rural areas? So let's just say "wealthier communities." Mm hmm. Which is not every suburban or clearly every rural area, but wealthier folks outside the city. To what degree do you believe most care about the children in our urban schools? Well I think most people have a moral sense, and that they really want the best for everybody. But sometimes it gets to the point of that, "Well why do I, though, have to pay for that?" I think that there isn't someone who says, "I don't want those children to succeed, I don't want those children to have opportunities." But we are all engaged sometimes in "What about mine?" And so, you know, we... Do you understand that? Yeah. Well, you know, I understand it to a degree. But I think that part of it in the conversation has always been about, "Well we need to invest in all children, because ultimately we are all connected. If my children don't do well, it's..."