By guest blogger Ben Kamisar
Appearing at an experimental New York high school Friday, President Barack Obama implored Congress to invest in new high school models that help prepare students for the ever-changing job market.
In a speech streamed live on the White House website from Brooklyn’s Pathways in Technology in Early College High School, the president touted the school’s commitment to strengthening the linkage between a high school education and career training by creating more schools that model P-Tech’s approach. When students graduate from the school, which bills itself as a “grade 9-14 high school,” they leave with not just a diploma, but also an associate’s degree in applied science.
“We need to redesign more of our high schools so they teach young people the skills required for a high tech economy,” Obama said.
The president emphasized that the landscape of the globalized economy underscores the need for schools that can prepare American students to compete in the global job market.
“If you don’t have a well educated workforce, you are going to be left behind,” he said. “If you don’t have a good education, it is going to be hard for you to find a job that pays a living wage.”
While the president did not release a specific plan, he said that he hoped Congress would pass a budget to reflect a strong commitment to education. On top of a commitment to promoting schools that emulate P-Tech , he threw his support behind increasing access to high-quality pre-school and giving teachers adequate salaries and budgets in the classroom.
P-Tech is a partnership between IBM, the New York City Department of Education and area colleges, groups that are all betting that providing students with a postsecondary degree and job training will help give them a leg up when they enter the job market. Students have the chance to meet with IBM mentors and the company has said that students will receive priority when applying for IBM jobs in the future.
The trip to the Brooklyn, N.Y., school isn’t entirely out of the blue, as the president praised it in his 2013 State of the Union address. In his speech, he compared P-Tech’s model to innovative schools in Germany and added that all American students should have the opportunity to graduate high school with more specific job training.