Providing Students With the Skills Needed for Today

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2012-01-30 Print this article Print

On Sept. 8, 2011, IBM in collaboration with the New York City Department of Education and CUNY launched Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH), a new grades 9-14 school where students can obtain an associate degree for free and get first crack at a job at IBM upon graduation.

With this Brooklyn-based school, for the first time in conjunction with the New York City Department of Education, a company--IBM-has helped develop the teaching curriculum and is providing 130 IBM mentors for every student and the principal. Overall, P-TECH is the result of a collaborative effort among the New York City Department of Education, The City University of New York (CUNY), the New York City College of Technology and IBM.

P-TECH is the answer to help students enter the workforce with the skills that are required by businesses today. A recent report from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Economics and Statistics Administration showed that careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) pay better and offer more job security because of the demand for professionals in those fields.

The new school is designed to prepare students to fill entry-level jobs in technology fields or provide them with the foundation for ongoing learning in a four-year college. While providing its students with a solid foundation across the core academic curriculum linked directly to common core standards, the schools will focus on STEM subjects. IBM is committed to helping create a smarter education system as part of its efforts to build a smarter planet. By assisting to design this innovative grade 9-14 program, IBM is helping create a new model for STEM education and beyond.  This model will serve as the basis for additional schools throughout the city, state and nation.

IBM has invested at least $500,000 in making the P-TECH school work, including software and equipment.

In his 2012 State of the City address, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said:

"For instance, last September, we opened an innovative new school in partnership with IBM that focuses on computer science. It's a six-year high school - grades 9 through 14, that's right: 14 - so students graduate with a Regents degree and an associate's degree and they also get a place in line for a job at IBM.

"It's a new way of thinking about secondary school based on today's economic realities."

Stan Litow, IBM's vice president of Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs and president of the IBM Foundation, told eWEEK a broad majority of the students at P-TECH come from low-income families. Litow said a parent-teacher meeting last year at the Paul Robeson High School (which the school housing P-TECH was formerly known as) was lucky to draw more than a dozen interested parents. Yet, a meeting to discuss the prospect of getting kids into the new P-TECH facility drew a standing-room-only crowd, Litow said.

"The community sees this as an opportunity," Litow said. "Parents see the school as a way for their children to get ahead. And the students are aware that technology skills are in high demand."

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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