New York State Students Speak Up for Equal AP Access
New York State Students Speak Up for Equal AP AccessMaria Eugenia Alcón-Heraux, Director, Communications
(Photo: Medgar Evers College Preparatory School students took a tour of the state capitol in Albany after meeting with legislators. Photo by: Mike O'Sullivan, College Board.)
Sixty students gathered at the Capitol in Albany on Tuesday, March 15, for the Student and Teacher Legislative Day. They had one mission: to share their Advanced Placement success stories with legislators and key policymakers.
Dr. Joseph P. Dragone, Superintendent of Schools of Ballston Spa Central School District and a College Board Trustee, welcomed students and thanked them for their support and success in AP. “To meet with lawmakers and talk about process — and to talk about what is important to you — is a unique opportunity,” he told them.
The students visited legislators’ offices throughout the day to spread the message that many students in New York don’t have the opportunity to take AP courses. More funding is needed, they argued, to make sure every student gets to experience the benefits of taking an AP course.
(Photo: New York State Senator Richard Funke speaks to students. Photo by Maria Alcon-Heraux, College Board.)
New York State Senator Richard Funke, who serves on the Higher Education Committee, spoke to students about his efforts to expand AP access for all New York state students: “We need to create a statewide program to enable school districts to create new AP offerings and expand what they have,” he said. “Every student, no matter their school district — rural, city, suburban — no matter their financial means, all of them should have access to a variety of AP programs, and they shouldn’t have to worry about funding for the exam.”
Senator Funke, and Senator Carl Louis Marcellino, the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, were part of the 60 legislators who agreed to meet with students throughout the day. “We are here to listen,” Marcellino told students. “And the more we listen, the more we learn.”
Isaiah Mondesir, a student at Medgar Evers Preparatory School in Brooklyn, made the trip to Albany to share his experiences taking seven AP courses. “We met with Senator Rivera and he told us about the process that was necessary to make certain educational policies happen. He feels AP exams are extremely important for students, especially for students who don’t necessarily have access to them.”
Sabrina Mendoza, a student at the School of the Arts, Imagination, and Inquiry in Manhattan, said she enjoyed talking to legislators and their staff: “You can see the happiness on their face when you speak about your AP experience.”
Another key guest at during the day was Jhone Ebert, Senior Deputy Commissioner for Education Policy for New York State Education Department, who also spoke to students about the value of taking AP courses. “I want to see our future grow,” she said. “I look at you and all of you have potential.”
(Photo: Zachary Douglas, left, with fellow students Carly Nadler, Mia Appell, Meghan Liuzzo, Zachary Williams, and Ballston Spa High School principal Kristi Jensen.)
That message was not lost on Zachary Douglas, a senior at Ballston Spa High School in Ballston Spa, NY, who told lawmakers’ taking AP Physics has been the number one influence in shaping his interest in mechanical engineering. “I am very thankful for the opportunities that have allowed me to learn what I want to do,” he shared. “I feel every student who wants to go to college should get an opportunity to take AP so they too can get the accelerated learning opportunity.”
These students not only had the unique opportunity to learn how education policy is implemented, but they also taught lawmakers that taking AP courses has given them the confidence to speak up and fight to level the playing field for all students.