By Ronald Gordon, IBM
Study after study proves that better education leads to employability, while lack of education can result in joblessness. To address this critical challenge in the City of Chicago, IBM will be developing a strategic plan to reinvigorate the city’s K-12 and community college systems as part of an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Stanley S. Litow, IBM’s Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs and President of the IBM International Foundation, announced the Smarter Cities grant on October 4th.
A key component of Chicago’s strategy is the evaluation of a new model of school — a grades 9 through 14 school designed to prepare graduates for careers in growth industries such as allied health and nursing, advanced manufacturing, distribution and logistics, and information technology. The IBM team of technology consultants will review different models including that of P-TECH Early College High School model, a new school developed by IBM and the New York City Department of Education in partnership with The City University of New York and the New York City College of Technology. New York’s P-TECH opened this fall, and will confer both the high school diploma and an Associate’s degree in technology — preparing its graduates for entry-level employment with IBM and other leading technology companies.
P-TECH-model schools target ordinary high schoolers without “cherry picking” or creating charter schools, and therefore can be created within existing budgetary frameworks. School districts also can customize the P-TECH model to prepare students for employment in growth industries in their area. During his recent jobs town hall, President Obama remarked that P-TECH “suddenly gives kids an incentive. They say ‘Oh, the reason I’m studying math and science is there’s a practical outcome here. I will have a job. And there are practical applications to what I’m doing in the classroom.’” Working with IBM, the City of Chicago will be giving its public school and community college students a better chance for a brighter future.