Education is a vital part of every community’s success. Children and adults attend academic and vocational institutions to gain knowledge and skills that they will use in the future. Educational outcomes affect our quality of life, strength of our labor force, and depth of civic participation in our community. Onondaga County has welcomed new, innovative strategies to address the needs of our community.
Say Yes to Education is a new initiative to increase high school graduation rates and college attendance to those who live within the Syracuse City School District (SCSD). The initiative offers free after school programming and a children’s summer program, among other services, to enrich the learning experience of SCSD children. Other services, such as legal assistance and parent workshops, are being offered to families with children in the SCSD. Say Yes to Education currently offers afterschool programs in 18 SCSD schools, serving 4,113 students. Say Yes is also running summer camps at 12 schools, serving 1,711 students. Finally, Say Yes to Education has been the impetus for $11 million in private and public scholarship support to the SCSD graduating classes of 2009 and 2010.
The Literacy Coalition of Onondaga County is another community partnership dedicated to helping raise education levels in Onondaga County. The goal of the organization is to achieve 100% Literacy through 100% Community Engagement. Over 200 community organizations have become coalition members since the Literacy Coalition was founded in the fall of 2008.
The Central New York region houses the third largest concentration of colleges and universities in the nation. According to the Onondaga County website, over 38,000 students are enrolled in Onondaga County colleges and universities. The centers of higher education include Syracuse University, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF), LeMoyne College, SUNY Upstate Medical University, and Onondaga Community College. St. Joseph’s and Crouse hospitals each have schools of nursing, Bryant and Stratton offers certification and licensing in professional skills programs and SUNY Oswego has a Metro Center in the City of Syracuse. There are another 35 institutions of higher education within 100 miles of Onondaga County.
This section of the report focuses on test scores of elementary and secondary education in the region. In Onondaga County, elementary school scores on English Language Arts and Math exams have risen slightly. Onondaga County school districts have seen the most improvement, while the SCSD is still below county and statewide averages. While Onondaga County high school Regents exam scores are consistently above state averages, overall passing rates are decreasing. The city of Syracuse lags behind county passing rates by at least 15 percent.