Book Launch: Mr. Smith Goes to Prison 

Thursday, September 10, 2015 at 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm 

Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, Arnhold Hall55 West 13th Street, Room I202, New York, NY 10011

New School urban policy professor Jeff Smith will read from his new book, Mr. Smith Goes to Prison: What My Year Behind Bars Taught Me About America's Prison Crisis. Following a brief reading from the book, author Touré will moderate a discussion about criminal justice reform with Professor Jeff Smith, Soffiyah Elijah (Executive Director of Correctional Association of New York), Dr. Carla Shedd (Columbia University sociologist), and Melissa Mark Viverito (New York City Council Speaker).

This event is co-sponsored by the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy, the Center for New York City Affairs, and Humanities Action Lab.

Live-Stream the event here!

Nearly half of New York City students fail the Algebra 1 Regents exam on the first try. Thousands retake the exam multiple times, caught up in what teachers call the “Algebra whirlpool.” Although both colleges and employers demand advanced math, only 40 percent of students in the Class of 2014 passed more than one math Regents exam—and only one in five advanced high enough to take and pass the state’s Algebra 2 and Trigonometry exam.

If passing Algebra 1 has been difficult in the past, it’s just become significantly harder. The old Integrated Algebra Regents exam was officially retired in June 2015 in favor of a new Common Core aligned test, reflecting new and tougher academic standards. The new exam has been laced with material that used to be on the Algebra 2 Regents exam. All students must master this material and students in the Class of 2022—those now entering the sixth grade—will be required to pass this exam with scores high enough to do college-level math work.  Educators confronting the new Regents exams and graduation standards worry they may be significant new obstacles for students hoping to graduate on time.

Read the full brief.


In a sea change in social welfare policy, there’s a sudden surge of policies and programs aimed at addressing behavioral and emotional problems among the city’s youngest children.

The budget for Fiscal Year 2016, which was adopted in June, earmarks at least $15 million for new efforts that are intended to support the social and emotional health of children ages 0-3. This report describes, for the first time, the scope and depth of this fast-growing trend. Read the report.

Many occupations are closed to students who don't take chemistry, physics and advanced mathematics in high school. Dental hygienists need chemistry. MRI technicians need physics. Architects need pre-calculus. Yet more than 150 New York City's public high schools—or 39 percent—do not offer a standard college prep curriculum in math and science, that is, algebra 2, physics and chemistry. More than 200 schools do not offer a single Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate class in math or science.

Many of these are the new small schools that proliferated during the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg—schools that have been rightly credited with boosting the city's graduation rate. But, while the small schools have been successful in helping struggling students graduate, many do not offer the higher-level coursework that prepares students for college and careers. This policy brief offers recommendations based on the experiences of a number of successful schools. Download the full policy brief.

Meet our new director, Kristin Morse

Kristin Morse has joined the Center as director. Kristin brings a wealth of experience in policy research and development, having spent most of the last decade leading New York City’s Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO), the first publicly-supported urban municipal incubator of cutting edge anti-poverty initiatives.  Kristin brings a twenty-year commitment to education and poverty reduction to the center, and will reinforce core center strengths in these areas while helping it branch out into new areas, such as criminal justice reform and workforce development. Read more.

It’s not surprising that many elementary school teachers struggle with the Common Core State Standards for math. Many early childhood teachers are actually frightened of math. They may doubt their own ability and have chosen a profession where they think it won’t matter. Download the full report

In late 2012, New York City launched a massive reform to its juvenile justice system: Rather than sending kids who commit lower-level offenses to Upstate lockups plagued by histories of abuse and failure, the city opened its own network of small, secure residential facilities within the five boroughs and nearby suburbs.

In this ongoing project, we look at the success and challenges of the "Close to Home" reform: Is the program living up to its promise? Are New York City kids better off?

Read our most recent stories here.

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Of the over 20,000 children in homeless shelters, nearly half are under 6 years old. We know from research how crucial the early years are to lifelong development. Yet families now stay an average of over 400 days in city shelters—an eternity for a small child.

The new Child Welfare Watch report describes the stresses that homelessness puts on families with young children, and explores the discontinuity between the large number of young children in the shelter system and the dearth of services available to them.  It reveals that currently the most common way for a family in a shelter to receive support for young children is to become known to child welfare authorities—a help that often goes hand-in-hand with the fear that children will be removed to foster care.