FOR a lot of New Yorkers, the June page on the calendar features two very special days: Graduation Day and Father’s Day.

And I want to highlight some good news about both of those special occasions.

The statewide graduation figures for 2010 came out.

And they showed that graduation rates at New York City public schools have never been higher; 65 percent of our students graduated within four years of entering high school.

Those numbers represent real success stories for real youngsters.

Think of it this way:

Last year, over 2,500 more students graduated within four years than did in 2009.

Since 2005, over 16,500 more students earned diplomas within four years.

And when you look a little more closely at those numbers, four major facts leap out. 

First, the era when our schools were failing to improve — and improve the odds for students — is a rapidly fading memory.

Before 2002, the graduation rate from city high schools had long been stagnant.

Since then, it’s been climbing steadily, and in 2010 went up for the ninth consecutive year.

Second, students of every race and ethnic group continued to improve their graduation rates last year.

Black and Hispanic youngsters — who are 70 percent of the students in our public schools — made the biggest gains, and kept narrowing the gap with their White and Asian classmates.

Third, our students also continue to set the pace statewide.

Between 2005 and 2010, graduation rates in the city improved by 40 percent; during that same period, the graduation rate increased by just 7.4 percent in public schools in the rest of the state.

Students here and in the rest of the state take the same tests and are held to the same standards; the gains that ours are making are just unmistakable and heartening.

Fourth, our policy of replacing large, failing high schools with new, smaller schools is a clear success.

The graduation rates in these new schools are dramatically better than they were in the schools they’ve replaced.

Across the city, graduation rates still aren’t where we want them to be.

But clearly, we’re headed in the right direction.

Strong involvement by fathers makes a big difference in how well youngsters do in school, and in life.

That’s why a year ago, we launched NYC DADS, a coordinated effort by more than a dozen city agencies to strengthen the role fathers play in the lives of their children.

Last week, we issued a progress report.

It shows, for example, how public housing developments and city parks have created new opportunities for dads to interact with their children.

Social service and correction agencies also have revised training and other policies in order to become more father friendly.

You can learn more, and also find a list of free and low-cost events dads can enjoy with their kids, by going to the city’s website,, and clicking on NYC DADS.

We know that good dads, like good schools, matter a lot to kids in our city, and to their ability to learn, grow and succeed as adults themselves.

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