To the Editor:
In “Reaching Beyond the Ivory Tower Into the Classroom,” (April 4, 2012) the authors suggest that university faculty members, particularly those in research institutions, do not engage with high schools, primarily as a result of their elite status in the field of education, resulting in “little sustained interaction between public school teachers and professors” and “nonexistent” commonalities across curricula. This has not been my experience.
I am the director of UConn Early College Experience, the nation’s oldest concurrent-enrollment program. We offer University of Connecticut courses to 9,000 students in 160 Connecticut high schools, taught by 800 high school instructors who have been certified, according to adjunct standards, by our faculty liaisons. Our faculty members provide collegial mentoring and professional development and facilitate use of university resources. Their job is to ensure that University of Connecticut courses taught in the high schools are the same courses that are taught on the university campus, based on national accreditation standards. (See www.nacep.org.)
We are a partnership program, dedicated to promoting college readiness and access to postsecondary opportunities. Students pay a modest program fee, which is waived for those on free and reduced-price lunch rolls. Our faculty liaisons are the backbone of our program. They believe in breaking down the firewalls to which C.L. Max Nikias and William G. Tierney refer.
Our high school instructors and the principals who support them are also to be commended. Our instructors receive little recognition for their extra effort and investment of their professional time.
My intent is not to criticize the University of Southern California or the Commentary’s authors. However, we need to recognize research-university faculty who are already reaching out to their secondary education colleagues in sustained, successful partnerships, which are replicable, scalable, and successful.
Gillian B. Thorne
Executive Director, Office of Early College Programs
Director, UConn Early College Experience Program
University of Connecticut
A version of this article appeared in the May 09, 2012 edition of Education Week as Successful University-Secondary Partnerships Exist