Dear Commons Community,
President Barack Obama visited New York City yesterday, more precisely P-Tech High School in Brooklyn. The school, Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-Tech) was touted by Obama in his 2013 State of the Union address. P-Tech is a collaboration between New York public schools, the City University of New York and IBM, where students will graduate with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree. President Obama’s visit was described by the New York Times:
“Mr. Obama, dressed in shirt sleeves, was showered with cheers by the visibly energized students and a cadre of New York politicians as he took the podium at Pathways in Technology Early College High School. “Hello Brooklyn,” he said, before starting into his argument for creating more schools like the one he was visiting, casting them as essential in preparing the next generation for competition in a shrinking world marketplace.
“This country should be doing everything in our power to give more kids the chance to go to schools just like this one,” the president said, calling the school, known as P-Tech, a ticket into the middle class.
“In previous generations, America’s standing economically was so much higher than everybody else’s that we didn’t have a lot of competition,” he added. “Now, you’ve got billions of people from Beijing to Bangalore to Moscow, all of whom are competing with you directly. And they’re — those countries are working every day, to out-educate and outcompete us.”
Mr. Obama’s wish list included preschool availability for every 4-year-old in the United States, access for every student to a high-speed Internet connection, lower college costs, redesigned high schools that teach the skills needed in a high-tech economy and greater investment in teachers.”
Without a doubt, P-Tech is a good model for urban school districts, however, it is but one of many small schools opened during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor. Bloomberg created 654 new schools — of which 173 were charter schools — and shuttered 164 schools for low academic performance. While many of the new schools have demonstrated improved student performance, many have also been the source of a good deal of community friction and distrust with the New York City Department of Education especially when new schools are co-located in the same buildings and take away space from traditional schools.