Howard University has joined forces with the National Education Equity Lab (Ed Equity Lab) to inspire and inform New York City youth who will participate in a Howard University credit-bearing course on criminal justice. The course will be offered to 100 eleventh and twelfth graders in five NYC Title 1 underserved high schools, which begins this week.
Howard University President Wayne A. I. Frederick praised the effort as necessary during this moment in history.
“Howard University is proud to collaborate with other colleges and universities committed to advance educational and racial justice for the countless talented students in historically underserved high schools throughout our nation,” said President Frederick. “There’s never been a more important moment for colleges and universities to boldly step up to advance opportunity equity than now.”
The first Howard course is “Introduction to Criminal Justice,” taught by the popular Professor Bahiyyah Muhammad, Ph.D., whose courses are known on campus as the “The Dr. Muhammad Experience.” The announcement of the course offering was met with high demand, prompting a waitlist in New York City, and in other school districts.
“As a Title 1 High School graduate, I am ecstatic about this opportunity to New York City students in 11 different High Schools for more than 100 students across all the boroughs of NYC,” said Muhammad. “Being born in Far Rockaway, Queens, this takes on even greater significance. I’m so grateful that Howard University, College of Arts and Sciences has made this opportunity available to me and for so many students who are beyond deserving of this opportunity. Experiential learning is at the heart of all my courses and I am eager to engage with students who I am sure will apply to Howard University at the end to this journey.”
Traditionally, Howard students in this undergraduate course visit local prisons to see first-hand the workings of the criminal justice system. This year, Muhammad will bring this experience online by creating virtual visits and discussions. High School students, many of whom have never heard of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), will be introduced to the unique elements of HBCUs through Muhammad, and past and present Howard students of the course.
College of Arts and Sciences Dean Rubin Patterson, Ph.D. said he’s excited to bring Howard’s innovative courses in criminal justice and environmental justice to these deserving students. Next semester, another 100 Title 1 students in the Ed Equity Lab program will enroll in an environmental justice course taught by another member of the Howard faculty.
“I am delighted that Howard University has this opportunity to partner with the National Education Equity Lab to provide a rigorous and riveting educational experience for Title 1 high school students across the country, said Dean Patterson. “After learning more from Ms. Cornfeld in our first meeting about Ed Equity Lab’s objectives for the overly talented students in underserved communities, I immediately thought that Howard University courses on Criminal Justice and Environmental Justice would serve students well. These courses will be memorable for students due to the compelling content, dynamic professors, and the fact that these courses will be the first of their college experience.”
Howard is one of several Universities participating in the pilot program. Participating institutions include: Cornell University, Howard University, Yale University, the University of Connecticut, Arizona State University, and Harvard University, which provided the successful inaugural pilot course last fall. Each institution has committed to offer at least one online college credit-bearing course to high-striving students of color and low income students in their teacher-led high school classrooms (virtual or in-school) for the 2020-2021 school year. To replicate the college experience, and for grading integrity, teaching assistants from the colleges will handle grading and hold virtual office hours and discussions.
Former U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, a National Education Equity Lab advisory board member, and current Managing Partner at Emerson Collective, said, “This is game changing for the kids who need this most.”
“When President Frederick and the Howard team heard about this opportunity, they dove right in, says Leslie Cornfeld, chief executive officer and founder of the National Education Equity Lab. “Education leaders across the country have been particularly thrilled about Howard’s participation, and about the opportunity to inform high-striving students of color and others around the nation about the unique opportunities Historically Black Colleges and Universities offer. Teachers from underserved high schools around the country have told us that their students don’t know enough about the opportunities offered at HBCUs; when we speak to students, that knowledge gap is confirmed. This opportunity will help change that.”