Howard University (Image by David Mark from Pixabay)

In a partnership that marks the first of its kind, Newark Public Schools by way of University High School, partners with Howard University and the National Education Equity Lab to offer high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to take courses offered by the university to earn college credits. The course titled Principals of Criminal Justice serves as a means to provide an introduction to the criminal justice system and a foundation for future study. In the course, students will be able to explore the key concepts of the criminal justice system and be encouraged to think critically about issues emerging in the 21st century media. They will also be able to debate current topics relevant to the principles of criminal justice while considering the range of policies currently in place.

“Priority 2 of The Next Decade 2020-30 outlines the importance of executing curricula for college and career programs with fidelity. This renowned partnership does that,” said Superintendent León. “We are excited about this partnership and the opportunity it provides our students” he added.

The program is designed for students who are curious about law, sociology, or social justice. Students who join the program will be eligible to earn high school credit along with college credit from the university as dual credit. The course will be taught by Professor, Dr. Bahiyyah Muhammad; known as an innovative educator who utilizes radical ways of engaging students in higher education. As a unique educator working strategically to change the landscape of higher education, Newark Public Schools is thrilled to have our students participate in this historic opportunity.

Keeping in line with University High School’s core values of “R.I.S.E.” which translates to Responsibility, Integrity, Service, and Excellence – the program provides its scholars with the tools necessary to carry out these calls to action. “To be the first high school in the city of Newark offering a dual enrollment opportunity with a Historically Black College or University, the Howard University, is extremely significant,” said Principal Genique Flournoy-Hamilton. “Not only does it provide our scholars with the experience of taking a college course while in high school, but it also reaffirms the importance of their value and expands their perspective about opportunities that exist at this great institution and other HBCU’s where their experiences are acknowledged and validated by those who are serving as their professors. HBCU’s have been known to have more success graduating scholars of similar demographic as those enrolled at University High School so we hope that more of our scholars see HBCU’s as a viable college choice through their enrollment in this course and program.”

Participating students will meet during their regular class period and will be overseen by a Co-Teacher who will act in a facilitation and coaching role. To further support students, Co-Teachers will be invited to participate in regular check-ins where they will share information and engage in conversations with other teachers across the country to discuss challenges, highlights, and best practices. Lee Snowden, Instructor, and Co-Teacher on behalf of University High School stated “The collaboration with the historic Howard University and University High School will impact this great community of Newark for generations to come. I am ever so fortunate to work with such a cadre of esteemed scholars as well as stellar Howard University faculty.”

“This course has allowed me to unpack and understand the different layers within our criminal justice system. It makes me feel good to be knowledgeable about laws so I can protect my own rights. What I love most about this course is that I am attending a Historically Black University. I find it very empowering to see black people so informed about the law.” stated University senior, Hallia Robinson. Her sentiments for the program were echoed by fellow classmate Amir Chase, who said “This course is an eye-opener for me and most classmates not just for social justice but for the college life as well. I’m influenced by what we’re learning and can’t wait to get to learn more throughout the year!”

As the district continues to implement best practices to elevate students and their chosen career paths, this opportunity marks a historic partnership. As a Historically Black College & University, Howard has a long-standing history of producing exceptional scholars that turn into exceptional professionals in the in the workforce. The Newark Board of Education is hopeful that this will constitute as the start of a very long and plentiful partnership between the two institutions.

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