NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- Newark's University High School has partnered with Howard University and the National Education Equity Lab to offer juniors and seniors the opportunity to take courses offered by the university to earn college credits.
The course, titled Principles 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," Superintendent Roger León said. "This renowned partnership does that. We are excited about this partnership and the opportunity it provides our students."
The program is designed for students who are curious about law, sociology, or social justice, and those 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, León said Newark Public Schools is thrilled to have its students participate.
"Seeing so many Black people in high positions and teaching us this information, I feel like I can go into this world and dominate," senior and enrollee Hallia Robinson said.
University High School has defined its core values with "R.I.S.E.," which translates to Responsibility, Integrity, Service, and Excellence, and Principal Genique Flournoy-Hamilton said the program provides its scholars with the tools necessary to carry out these calls to action.
"One of our district's focus is really to prepare students for college and career readiness," she said. "There's a level of engagement that happens when students are involved in courses that are extremely relevant and important to them."
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.
"The collaboration with the historic Howard University and University High School will impact this great community of Newark for generations to come," co-teacher Lee Snowden said. "I am ever so fortunate to work with such a cadre of esteemed scholars as well as stellar Howard University faculty."
While this is not the first dual enrollment program at the high school, it's the first with a Historically Black College or University.
According to the latest data by the United Negro College Fund, HBCUs make up just 3% of colleges and universities in the U.S., yet they produce almost 20% of African American graduates with Bachelor's degrees.
"We are in a school where the majority of our scholars are students of color, and the majority being African American," Flournoy-Hamilton said. "So, you know, I see that is more than fitting for them to enroll in a Historically Black College centered around who they are."
While Robinson didn't apply to Howard, she is now hoping to attend an HBCU closer to home next fall.
"I never thought about Howard or an HBCU really," she said. "So this has opened my eyes a little bit more."
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