early college

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New York

What's behind the P-TECH hype? We answer as Obama stops by

P-TECH produced buttons after President Obama name-checked the school in his State of the Union address in January. In a system with more than 1,800 schools, one is getting an extra-large dose of attention today. President Barack Obama is visiting P-TECH, or Pathways in Technology Early College High School (and partially shutting down Prospect Park in the process). The small school in Crown Heights, which opened in 2011 in the building being vacated by Paul Robeson High School, doesn’t even have a graduating class to boast about. But it’s been getting high praise from high places since even before it opened because of its approach to preparing students for a 21st-century job market. P-Tech is new and still relatively untested — it’s only a few months into its third year — but there are some early signs of success under its dynamic principal, Rashid Davis. Still, whether it will live up to its lofty promises remains to be seen. Here’s our breakdown of what’s been happening in the Crown Heights school and why it’s received so much buzz. How much buzz has there been? The hype has come early and often. P-TECH was barely open a month back in 2011 when policy makers had already taken an interest and replicating it around the country. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel struck a deal to open up to five schools like it; in New York, Mayor Bloomberg laid out plans to replicate it twice in his 2012 State of the City speech; three more schools could open next year. Last year, a foundation solicited bids for P-TECH duplicates in Idaho. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who will join Obama for the visit today, has jumped on the bandwagon, too. In August, he announced 16 winners to split up $4 million to start their own P-TECH versions around the state. In between, P-TECH received visits from a host of high-profile leaders in education, including one day last year when Chancellor Dennis Walcott, State Education Commissioner John King and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan all stopped by. A couple of months later, Obama name-dropped the school in his 2013 State of the Union speech. Obama said it was a new way for American schools to prepare students for life beyond high school. Partnerships with higher education and high-tech industries, he said in his 2013 State of the Union speech, would be key to bridging that gap in the future. "At schools like P-Tech in Brooklyn," Obama said, "a collaboration between New York Public Schools, the City University of New York, and IBM, students will graduate with a high school diploma and an associate degree in computers or engineering.” Obama returns today, where he'll be joined by Bloomberg, Cuomo, Walcott, Democratic mayoral nominee Bill de Blasio, as well as union leaders Michael Mulgrew and Randi Weingarten. What’s so special about the P-TECH model?
New York

Officials fete students in city's newest early college programs

Joining State Senator Velmanette Montgomery (center) are four students from Bard Early College High School (from left: Daphney Sanchez, Aishah Scott, Dwight Hodgson, and Lenina Mortimer). Behind them is Martha Olson, Dean of Administration. Students taking part in new early college high school programs got a glimpse of their future yesterday at Long Island University's Kumbel Theater and liked what they saw. Staring back up at them were four success stories who graduated from one of the city's first early college schools, Bard High School Early College in Manhattan: an admissions coordinator, a doctoral candidate in political science, a bioengineering student, and a multimedia producer. "It's one of those things that doesn't make sense to you right now and that's fine," said Dwight Hodgson, who started at BHSEC when it opened in 2001. He is now back at his high school as an admission coordinator. "But there's going to come a time very shortly where you're going to sit back and say, 'Wow, that was a life-changing experience.'" Hodgson was speaking to new students in four early college programs crafted in BHSEC's mold as part of the Smart Scholars Early College High School program, a state initiative to bolster partnerships between high schools and colleges. Bard and City Polytechnic High School of Engineering, Architecture, and Technology, which has a relationship with New York City College of Technology, became the city's first Smart Scholars schools in 2010 and this year they were joined by three other schools: Boys and Girls High School (with L.I.U.), Medgar Evers College Preparatory School (with Medgar Evers College), and Pathways in Technology Early College High School, or P-TECH, (with NYC College of Technology). Each school is getting more than $400,000 from the state and the Gates Foundation, which provided the original Smart Scholars grant in 2009. The Smart Scholars initiative aims to bring the early college model, in which students take college courses while they're still enrolled in high school, to low-income and minority students.
New York

At two early college schools, insistence that location matters

Last month, I wrote a story for the Village Voice about the challenges facing early college schools, schools that partner with local universities to offer students a taste of college while they're still in high school. One major challenge, I reported, is that the schools can't always maintain space on or near the campus of their partner colleges, threatening the collaborations. Last week, developments occurred at two of the schools I mentioned in the article that underscore the relationship between location and identity for early college schools. The Daily News reported that Middle College High School at LaGuardia Community College is likely to stay in its current home on the campus of the college because the Department of Education is moving to purchase the building. The real estate deal has not been finalized, but the department has come to an agreement with the owner, DOE spokesman Will Havemann told me on Friday. Also on Friday, parents at an early college school in a different borough were responding to news about their school's future location. A cadre of parents from Bronx Early College Academy traveled to City Hall Friday afternoon to protest a move planned for their school that would quadruple its distance from its partner college, Lehman College. The parents were protesting both the site, in the building of IS 166, a large middle school that is closing because of poor performance, and the process by which the DOE selected it, according to leader Annabel Wright, who estimated that about 20 parents made the trip to Lower Manhattan.