The D.C. school system's program to expand career-oriented instruction with private resources has brought in $2.51 million in money, goods and services in the last 18 months, according to a report released yesterday by officials.
The resources, donated by companies and organizations such as the Private Industry Council, IBM, Mobil Oil and Xerox corporations and the Ford Foundation, have been used in the Public-Private Partnerships program begun last fall by Superintendent Floretta D. McKenzie.
According to the report, 19 firms and organizations donated money, equipment and services, which range from the largest cash contribution of $477,300 from the Ford Foundation, to IBM's loan of computers, typewriters and tape recorders for special laboratories for kindergarten and first grade students and teachers in 15 elementary schools.
The program is designed to be a "school within a school" in which traditional classroom instruction is supplemented by career-oriented courses. In the preengineering program at Dunbar High School for example, 15 employes of the Potomac Electric Power Company each lecture once a month during the career portion of the students' academic day. In addition, Pepco has sponsored tours of its local facilities and the Navy Yard and has donated films and drafting materials.
New career programs teach preengineering at Dunbar; health professions at Eastern High and the Washington Career Development Center; communications at McKinley High and the Lemuel Penn CDC; business and finance at Woodson High, and hotel management and culinary arts at Roosevelt High and the Burdick CDC. Each is billed as an effort to prepare selected students for entry-level jobs or college level programs.
"Private sector involvement with the D.C. public schools extends our capability to improve education by bringing the business community's array of expertise and resources to our schools," said McKenzie in the report. "We in turn can offer a better-prepared and skilled labor force to the potential employers of our graduates."
McKenzie said the programs are designed to address deficiencies in career experience. "Because many of our high school graduates seek entry-level jobs without the requisite skills, broadening our view of career preparation in a high tech era is vitally important," said McKenzie.
The success of the programs cannot be tested until graduates try to move into the job market. But some students have already found the more rigorous academics in the programs too demanding.
Fifty students began the preengineering courses at Dunbar High last fall, said Principal Thomas Harper, but only 34 remain because the rest were unable to keep up in class. School days are expanded by two hours in the career programs, and the Dunbar effort, for example, will demand four years of math instead of the two years normally taken by high school students.