It was a special day for students at Pathways in Technology Early College High School. President Barack Obama had come to visit the Brooklyn institution he hailed as a national model of technology education.
President Obama sat in on algebra class and addressed students at the school that he had highlighted in his February 2013 State of the Union. “What’s going on at P-TECH is outstanding and I’m excited to see it for myself,” said Obama, who also reminded students that he once lived in Brooklyn—across the street from Prospect Park.
A six-year high school, P-TECH is a public-private collaboration of CUNY, the New York City Department of Education and corporate partner IBM that opened in 2011. Students can earn associate degrees from New York City College of Technology. The school focuses on information technology, computers, engineering, math and science. And IBM provides students with mentors, internships and a shot at a job at IBM.
During his October 2013 visit Obama praised the program, which trains high school students for jobs in engineering. “We live in a 21st-century global economy.… Companies [are] looking for the best-educated people, wherever they live … and if you don’t have a well-educated workforce, you’re going to be left behind,” said Obama.
P-TECH founding principal Rashid Ferrod Davis described Obama’s visit as historic because it placed a national spotlight on the Crown Heights neighborhood institution, helping people rethink the high school model in the U.S.
“Look at the conversation surrounding the United States slipping in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. To continue to be competitive, [programs like P-TECH] are one way to ensure more Americans are hired for tech jobs,” said Davis.
Shortly after his visit, Obama announced a $100 million competition, based on innovations such as P-TECH, to find new ways to better prepare high school students for the global high-tech economy.