New York State Plans Expansion Of STEM Schools - InformationWeek

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2/26/2013
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New York State Plans Expansion Of STEM Schools

Gov. Cuomo's budget proposal includes $4 million to establish 10 new Early College High School programs, similar to the IBM-backed P-TECH in New York City, aimed at preparation for high-tech jobs.

Educational 'Technology' Across the Ages
Educational 'Technology' Across the Ages
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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing to establish 10 new programs modeled on Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH), the IBM-backed school in Brooklyn that takes students through high school and two years of college with the goal of meeting the demand for workers with the right skills for high tech jobs.

P-TECH is the same program President Obama singled out for praise in his State of the Union Address earlier this month. Gov. Cuomo's office announced the technology education partnership program Tuesday as part of his executive budget proposal.

Following the IBM blueprint for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, P-TECH and schools like it are starting to be established in other cities such as Chicago to help students earn an associate degree, which IBM considers the minimum qualification for an entry-level job in a technical discipline. IBM has promised that those who graduate from the program will be "first in line" for a job at IBM, whether they stop with the equivalent of a community college education or continue on to earn a four-year degree.

[ Want to 'THINK' like an IBMer? Read IBM Showcases STEM Support At Disney's Epcot. ]

New York's planned expansion of the program would establish one new school on this model in each of 10 economic development zones around the state. New corporate sponsors would also join IBM in offering students mentors from the business world, along with the same "first in line" consideration for a job after graduation. IBM will serve as the corporate partner for two of the new schools, will help recruit other private-sector partners, and will offer training to participating schools and mentors.

Gov. Cuomo's budget proposal includes $4 million in incentives for districts that establish a school on this model of public-private partnership.

IBM's Stan Litow, one of the architects of this education model, said he can't forecast how the governor's budget will fare with the legislature, but that this $4 million incentive payment ought to survive, particularly with all the interest generated by Obama's endorsement. Although many details remain to be worked out, school districts already are lining up to be part of the initiative, he said.

"I don't think interest from companies, interest from school districts, certainly interest from children and parents -- I don't think that's going to be the problem," said Litow, a former deputy chancellor of the NYC schools and IBM's VP for corporate citizenship and corporate affairs.

In a statement for the governor's press release, Dick Parsons, chair of the New NY Education Commission and senior advisor at Providence Equity Partners LLC, said, "Governor Cuomo recognizes that quality education is a game changer for New York's students and New York's economy. By expanding the P-TECH model across the State, as recommended by the New NY Education Reform Commission, Governor Cuomo and IBM will add fuel to local economies and businesses, while also providing innovative models of education reform that our public school system needs."

Litow said he had been encouraged by the strong recommendation from the commission chaired by Parsons, the former CEO of Time Warner, but was glad to see it translated into action. "This is a very big commitment and it demonstrates an enormous amount of leadership from the governor," Litow said.

He hopes to see the initiative mirrored by other states across the country. "The numbers really dictate the need for some sort of strong action," Litow said, referring to high community college dropout rates and the mismatch between employer needs and the skills of graduating students. "The problem is clear, and if we're interested in addressing the skills crisis we need a new model," he said.

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr or Google+.

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