President Obama visited a national leader in career and technical education—Pathways in Technology Early College High School in Brooklyn, N.Y.—a grades 9-14 school that was born out of collaboration between the New York City Department of Education, the City University of New York, the United Federation of Teachers and IBM.
AFT President Randi Weingarten and UFT President Michael Mulgrew, who is an AFT vice president, attended the Oct. 25 presidential visit. Pathways in Technology, which opened in 2011, stands as one of the finest examples of a new generation of public schools that connect high school, college and the world of work through partnerships with college and industry—in this case, IBM.
"Pathways in Technology set the pace for other innovative career and technical schools by bringing together business, the teachers' union, a high school and a university in a collaborative effort to give students a top-notch education that leads to real jobs," Weingarten says, noting that the school's teachers have a critically important and strong voice in the educational decisions for their students. "I am very excited to have the president see the great work that the UFT helped create. UFT President Michael Mulgrew and UFT Vice President Sterling Roberson have been pivotal forces in re-envisioning what career and technical education should be."
P-Tech, as it is known, offers a science, technology, engineering and math curriculum that leads to the simultaneous granting of a high school diploma and an associate degree. Every P-Tech student has a mentor from IBM and access to a paid internship with the company. Students graduate with associate degrees in computer systems technology or electromechanical engineering technology.
Weingarten, who is a vigorous advocate for more high-quality career and technical schools, visited P-Tech this past June.
"Done right, high-quality career and technical education does more than provide graduates with employment in good-paying 21st-century jobs, more than establish a solid foundation for further education. It makes a vital connection for students between their high school educations in the here and now and a tangible, desirable future," she said, adding that this kind of education is especially important for students living in poverty and at risk of dropping out. "Unlike the economic 'dead end' of low-wage, unskilled jobs that were the hallmark of traditional 'vocational' education, high-quality career and technical education provides a clearly defined pathway to a productive life doing meaningful work."
[AFT press release]
November 5, 2013