Starting Fall 2019, students at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC/CUNY) will have the option of earning an Associate in Arts degree in Social Studies for Secondary Education through the Teacher Education department.
The Social Studies for Secondary Education program meets a need within BMCC and New York City itself.
“Urban schools often have difficulty recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers, especially those whose racial and ethnic backgrounds reflect that of the students served,” says Cara Kronen, a professor and coordinator of the secondary education program in the BMCC teacher education department.
She cites an April 2015 New York Times article showing that 85 percent of students in New York City schools are children of color, yet more than 60 percent of teachers is white.
“Teachers of color are essential in urban classrooms because they can provide real-life examples to students of future career paths they might consider, and the benefits of academic achievement,” she says.
In addition, Kronen says, 65 percent of 434 BMCC students surveyed in 2015 by the teacher education department said they would consider a program in Secondary Education for Social Studies, or would have considered the major if it had been available when they enrolled at BMCC.
Careers that meet a growing demand
The Social Studies for Secondary Education associate degree program at BMCC will articulate with the Bachelor’s of Arts degree program, Adolescent Social Studies, at Hunter College, CUNY.
“Students who earn their bachelor’s degree will be eligible to apply for Social Studies teaching certification in grades seven through 12,” says Kronen. “They will have a variety of employment options. They can teach, with a starting salary of more than $56,000. They can also pursue careers in school administration, textbook publishing, professional development and educator training, working with non-profit organizations and others.”
More than 1.1 million students attend 1,800 schools in New York City, she points out, “and as the population of New York City continues to grow,there will be an increasing demand for highly qualified teachers.”
The integral role of social studies in secondary education
Graduates who earn their associate degree in Social Studies for Secondary Education, followed by a bachelor’s degree at Hunter College, can go on to earn additional degrees that would position them to work in colleges and universities.
“I started my career as a high school social studies teacher,” Kronen says. “Social studies education is crucial now more than ever. We need our young people to learn about civic engagement, to become critical thinkers and fierce defenders of our democracy. Social studies teachers help students understand the importance of their role in making a community more equitable for everyone. I’m excited to see BMCC students working toward careers as secondary education teachers who will follow their passion and make a difference in our city.”