A link between Fordham University and the Far East was strengthened in July, as the University’s Graduate School of Social Service taught a dozen Japanese college students about social issues and services in the United States.

The two-week program, which was a mix of lectures and tours, has been in place for 23 years. It was expanded this year to include a component on public education.

Japanese students visit P.S. 4 in Washington Heights. Photo By Bruce Gilbert

New York City’s public education system has been overhauled in the last six years, according to Anita Batisti, associate dean of the Graduate School of Education and director of the Fordham Center for Educational Partnerships. She addressed the topic in a presentation to the visiting students on Tuesday, July 22.

The next day, the group toured Public School 325 and Public School 4 in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan—two schools for which Fordham is a Partnership Support Organization.

In discussing the transformation that began when Mayor Michael Bloomberg took control of the school system in 2002, Batisti noted that the bureaucracy was extremely inefficient.

The result was years of wildly varying test scores, triggering the move from 32 semi-autonomous districts to 10 regional offices, and finally to last year’s implementation of four Learning Support Organizations.

“This, in all seriousness, is the most revolutionary restructuring that has taken place in New York City and probably anywhere in the United States,” she said.

The students, who listened as Uhnsook Park translated Batisti’s talk, said they were intrigued by the way American teachers share counseling duties with others. Hisami Matsumura, a native of the city of Shibukawa, was also impressed that the New York City government, the board of education and the higher-education institutions such as Fordham are working together to improve education.

“These things are very interesting to me, because in Japan only the board of education works for students,” she said. “Sometimes teachers don’t share their opinions with universities. They don’t work together.”


Patrick Verel is a news producer for Fordham Now. He can be reached at [email protected] or (212) 636-7790.