February 21, 2014

Colo. firms should embrace 6-year high school

Six-year public high schools, which grant students a high school diploma and a two-year associate’s degree upon graduation, are emerging across the nation as one way to create a workforce every corporation can love.

In fact, IBM has taken the lead in supporting these schools. Known as P-TECH, for Pathways in Technology, the schools began in Brooklyn and are catching on in other major cities such as Chicago as well.

It’s time for Colorado to embark on a similar program. Key to the success of these endeavors is the active support by corporate America. In a recent cover story in Time magazine, IBM’s participation is noted not just for its financial commitment to the programs but for the executives it implants in the schools to work with administrators, educators and students.

These people create a critical bridge between classrooms, curricula and job requirements. IBM guarantees graduates a job upon successful completion of the degree, jobs that pay about $40,000 a year, well above the $31,200 the average high school graduate can expect to earn without a two-year degree.

Citing data from the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, the Time article notes that some 47 million jobs will be created by the end of 2018 and that just 36 percent of these will be filled by people with four-year degrees. That means there will be a huge demand for those with other kinds of educational preparation.

What’s interesting about these schools is that their existence does not rely on a fat corporate check. The schools in Chicago, for instance, are largely funded just as the other public schools are, meaning they are open to students of all colors and economic backgrounds.

Last fall, Colorado voters defeated Amendment 66, the first major effort to provide significant new help to K-12 education. At that time, we called on the business community, which had grave concerns about the measure, to step forward and find a new route to successfully educating our children and staffing our companies. Now is the time for business people to consider a new approach, one made possible by a six-year high school.


Six-year public high schools, which grant students a high school diploma and a two-year associate’s degree upon graduation, are emerging across the nation as one way to create a workforce every corporation can love.

In fact, IBM has taken the lead in supporting these schools. Known as P-TECH, for Pathways in Technology, the schools began in Brooklyn and are catching on in other major cities such as Chicago as well.

It’s time for Colorado to embark on a similar program. Key to the success of these endeavors is the active support by corporate America. In a…

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