On July 15th, 2021, Poetry in America host Professor Elisa New wrote a letter to the editor of Inside Higher Ed, entitled “Bridging the moat between K-12 and higher education.”
New’s letter was a response to Steven Mintz’s July 8th blog post, “Closing Higher Education’s Equity and Achievement Gaps,” an opinion piece exploring ways to rectify equity and achievement gaps in education.
In his blog post, Mintz argues that the education community must challenge talented students, and offer them support; and New agrees.
But her letter points out that the media’s focus on the most elite portions of academia can sometimes be blinding. “These schools accept only the smallest fraction of those ready for college, and admitted students who lack the preparation afforded their more privileged peers, are sometimes stranded… Most elite schools,” New points out, are not “set up to educate students beyond their traditional (and small) undergraduate and graduate populations.”
This realization brought New to offer her Poetry in America courses to high school students via Arizona State University—where bridging the moat between high school and college is at the forefront of the institution’s mission. New’s letter points out why “the innovative infrastructure of a public institution” has been essential to her work, bringing talented students from disadvantaged backgrounds across the U.S. into courses that prepare them for college.
New says: “Those institutions and programs that prepare themselves to meet learners’ needs — not the other way around — and that invest in the technologies and personnel needed to serve the many — not the few — will be the ones to lead the way toward greater equity and access.”