The Center for the Improvement of Education was established in 1980 by John Lidstone, former Dean of Education, to house the Louis Armstrong Middle School collaboration and other school collaborations. In addition to Louis Armstrong Middle School, the Center has also forged ongoing partnerships with PS/IS 499, the Queens School of Inquiry, and Townsend Harris High School. During the founding, the collaboration was supported by grants from the Board of Education that averaged $150,000; however, recently Queens College has assumed responsibility for the Center, providing approximately $40,000 per year. In addition, grants from the Queens Foundation and local donors have resulted in $150,000 available to fund partnerships to improve student learning and result in changes in practice at both the College and collaborating schools. Contracts from the New York City Schools, CUNY and grants from the Gates Foundation support the vital partnerships with Queens School of Inquiry and Townsend Harris High School.
In the past, graduate students who completed a Master’s Degree in Education and a year-long internship at the Louis Armstrong Middle School. The U.S. Department of Education awarded the Center a competitive grant of $1.25 million for five years for the recruitment of underrepresented groups and their preparation as special educators with expertise in inclusion practices and multicultural education. Students in this program completed a year-long internship at Louis Armstrong Middle School, where they participated in a range of inclusionary special education models. From 2000 to 2003, the Center received a five-year grant of $250,000 per year from the Board of Education to conduct a middle school mathematics teacher education program to enhance the teaching skills of middle school mathematics teachers in the Borough of Queens and provide preparation for certification in mathematics education.