Maryland will join a small number of states that are partnering with IBM and other businesses to train students for technology jobs through a six-year program that blends high school, college and work experience, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Monday.
“Maryland has some of the best schools in the country, but there is room for new innovative ideas,” Hogan (R) said.
Under the P-Tech (Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools) model, students spend six years navigating a high school and college curriculum tailored to prepare them for high-tech jobs.
Each student is assigned a mentor and has the opportunity to participate in an internship. By the end of the program, the student earns a high school diploma and an associate’s degree and is supposed to have mastered work skills that are in high demand.
Hogan, the first Republican governor to launch P-Tech, made the announcement at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Baltimore, joined by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D) and Gregory E. Thornton, the chief executive officer of the Baltimore City School System.
The governor said he wants to open four P-Tech programs in Maryland next year. His goal is to have two of them at schools in Baltimore, and two at schools in rural areas of the state. The State Board of Education has to approve the educational model and the school districts where the program will exist.
“In urban centers like Baltimore, we know that growing technology companies are creating jobs and opportunities,” Rawlings-Blake said. “But if our youth are not prepared with the necessary skills, these jobs will pass them by and they will be left behind.”
Hogan said P-Tech is the type of program that is created when people are “thinking outside of the box,” adding that he would like to see other innovative ideas implemented in Maryland. He made a pitch for an expansion of charter schools and a tax credit for businesses that donate to private schools, programs that he fought for during his first legislative session without success. He said he intends to push for them again next year.
Colorado and Rhode Island are also slated to open P-Tech schools next fall. There are 40 such schools operating in three states — New York, Connecticut and Illinois. Some are standalone schools, while others operate as independent programs inside existing schools. By next fall, there will be 60 P-Tech programs in operation.
The first P-Tech program opened in Brooklyn four years ago through a partnership among New York City’s public school system, the City University of New York and IBM. It has drawn praise from President Obama.
Ronald J. Daniels, the president of Johns Hopkins University, said he toured that school in 2012, saw the program’s promise and launched an effort to bring the model to Baltimore.
Hopkins wants to become the business partner for a P-Tech program at Dunbar, if the school is chosen as one of the city locations. Kaiser Permanente has also agreed to become a business partner in Maryland. IBM, which created the model, will work with a school in Maryland and serve as an adviser to the schools and businesses that participate.
Daniels said the university and its affiliated health-care system generate many jobs each year but often cannot fill them because there is a “mismatch between our opportunities and our workforce. . . . P-Tech is about meeting our city’s needs and solving our recruitment challenges.”
Stanley S. Litow, vice president of corporate citizenship and corporate affairs and president of the IBM International Foundation, said the company created P-Tech to address the country’s “skills crisis,” and to make opportunities available for all students, “not just those who are most likely to succeed.”
Litow said 90 percent of the students who attend the P-Tech school in Brooklyn are eligible for free or reduced-price meals, an indicator of poverty. The students who have already graduated from the program, he said, are earning more than $50,000 as a starting salary.