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Citizen IBM blogged live from the Classroom to Career conference at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College in New York City.

This forum gathered thought leaders and experts in K-12 and post-secondary education and training, government, and business for a discussion of how to address America’s skills gap. The forum was designed to promote a dialogue on the future of education, and on the role of public-private partnerships in driving U.S. economic competitiveness.

Please comment on the discussion below to keep the conversation going.

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All Times Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)

Remarks by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

You can’t have great schools without great leadership, and P-TECH is doing a great job.

I am more and more convinced that the skills crisis is a huge wake-up call for those of us in education to do more. Students need to know that what they’re doing is relevant and will lead to good jobs. P-TECH students understand that. By contrast, some students drop out of school because it’s too easy, not too hard. They’re not engaged.

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My plea to the business community here is that we need you to do more. Educators can’t do it by themselves. If you want the next generation of consumers to buy your products or work in your firms, you have to help prepare them.

When you see companies like IBM stepping up, it’s amazing what can happen. Mentorships, internships and more help motivate students who often have to overcome a wide variety of obstacles from challenging home lives to lengthy commutes just to get to school.

We also need you to help break down the barriers of social isolation. We also need to establish and maintain high standards. We can’t reduce standards to make politicians look good. The business community has to demand high standards, both for achievement and for graduation rates. They have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

Finally, the business community needs to get its employees involved. We need to pressure ourselves to speed up, not slow down. The education system has not kept up with changes in the global marketplace. The middle class, skilled labor jobs that once were available to high school dropouts are gone and they’re not coming back.

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02:00 p.m. – Stanley S. Litow, IBM’s Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs and President of the IBM International Foundation, explains that America’s changing labor market demands more than just the high school diploma.

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02:18 p.m. – Hunter College President Jennifer Raab opens the conference.
We love to collaborate with IBM because IBM and Roosevelt are long-term partners. It was here in this house that FDR hired Frances Perkins to develop the Social Security program, which would not have been possible without IBM technology.

IBM provided the computers and equipment to carry out what was characterized as the biggest accounting project of all time – a landmark public-private partnership. It was in this house that The New Deal was planned, along with many of Eleanor Roosevelt’s education initiatives.

In order to have great citizens, we need to have educated citizens. That is the mission of Hunter College.

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02:25 p.m. – Litow: How can we come up with strategies to prepare young people for the jobs of the 21st Century? We can’t do it without a set of innovative strategies that involve educators, employers and communities. We need for school systems to partner with higher education to provide a bridge between K-12 and postsecondary education. In addition, these entities need input from business to insure that their curricula are rigorous relevant to the demands of the global marketplace.

New York’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) is an innovative model that can be brought to scale nationwide. But to do that, we will need a larger number of partners and collaborators.

We need to provide this opportunity to all students, not just a selected few.

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02:30 p.m. – Anthony Carnevale, Director, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce: It’s been true since 1983 that the more education one has, the more one has the potential to earn. But that’s not the whole story. Not only does a person need more education, he or she also needs the right kind of education. What you take matters more than how much education you have. Career pathway and connection to occupation drives earnings.

The purpose of employment and career has become central, not just to earnings but to one’s potential to live fully in his or her time.

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02:37 p.m. – Mary Fifield, President, Bunker Hill Community College: It simply makes good sense to connect young people to college early. If we can find a strategy to combine in a contextualized manner coursework with skills acquisition, then we are able to prepare young people to enter careers directly.

Bill Swanson, CEO of Raytheon – himself a graduate of a community college – pioneered partnership between community colleges and employers. Member companies pre-screen students, who are assigned a mentor and a workplace “buddy” for their learn-to-earn experience.

It takes more than just talk. Companies have to step in!

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02:42 p.m. – Cynthia Marshall, President, AT&T North Carolina: Preparing our young people for the future is, to me, the true definition of Homeland Security. The only way that I can ensure a diverse and globally competitive workforce is to get involved. It’s pure business.

We need to open our minds as business leaders. The majority of jobs at my company – AT&T North Carolina – require postsecondary training, but not a four-year degree.

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02:50 p.m. — Question from Susan Taylor, National CARES Mentoring Movement:
Why do we hear so little about illiteracy, our national shame?

Marshall: We’re working with organizations like yours to help spread literacy as we prepare young people for jobs.

Carnevale: It’s worked for us to be very good at the top. We were very good at that. We were flexible. And we were much larger than our competitors in the marketplace. But we lag behind in sub-baccalaureate and baccalaureate education, and our advantages of flexibility and scale are going away. So the cost of doing business as we have in the past is now too high.

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03:00 p.m. — Panel 2 – What Works: Preparing Students for College and Career

Shael Polakow-Suransky, Chief Academic Officer and Senior Deputy Chancellor, New York City Department of EducationWe’re at the beginning of a renaissance in career and technical education (CTE). We’ve begun to shift to model to consider what professions young people need to be prepared for. We’re looking to replicate the P-TECH model with a focus on the health care field. And we’re trying to build powerful industry partnerships that will align what companies need with what young people learn in school.

Litow: CTE can prepare graduates for both careers and higher education.

Matthew Goldstein, Chancellor, City University of New York (CUNY): The U.S. faces a national security problem – not from our borders’ being porous, but because our competitiveness has been compromised. Unless we get it better than we are getting it now, we will be relegated in our standard of living to a place that none of us wants to be.

On the ground level, we have to break out of the silos that often have presented us with unnecessary distractions in how we educate our young people. Our path must be a path of collaboration.

P-TECH is a great example of what can be accomplished with cooperation across sectors. That’s what the data shows us.

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03:05 p.m. — Panel 2 – Continued

Litow: What are the barriers to cooperation?

John King, Commissioner, NYSED: We have to re-think our definitions of career and technical education. One of our challenges is changing the tone of the old thinking about CTE. We have to view CTE as a tradition on par with other academic pathways.

The final barrier is cost. We have to make it possible for these grades 9 through 14 programs to be funded in a sustainable way. It’s time to allow students in early college high school programs to take advantage of state college financial aid. It’s a smart investment that will improve our graduation rates and the potential for the futures of these young people.

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03:15 p.m. — Panel 2 – Continued

Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City: The inflexibility of the system, the complexity of education laws and a host of other impediments are slowing our progress. There are many, many jobs available for people at below the Ph.D. level that employers simply have not been able to fill. We need demand-driven programs instead of supply-driven programs.

Litow: We’ve identified the problems and some potential solutions. Some of the barriers to success sound large, but they will fall with the right push. But the question: how do we bring these innovations to scale? How do we make them less the exception and more the rule?

Audience Question: What can be put in place to make it feasible for public-private partnerships to work together?

Litow to panel: Do we need some sort of government structure to make sure this works?

Wylde: That model has been successful in the affordable housing sector, and it could be successful here.

Goldstein: There is a cultural divide that has to be taken very seriously. To build a system for career and business education, we need collaboration from the business community. We’re not getting that now. We need businesses to take the lead in helping shape curricula that map students directly to jobs – and school and college faculty need to collaborate. But building another bureaucratic architecture is probably not the way. We need leaders of the various participating sectors to lead the way.

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03:25 p.m. — Panel 2 – Continued

Polakow-Suransky: Powerful partners make all the difference, especially in helping students understand the connection between their school work and their employment potential.

King: We have to shift our definitions of success to be more relevant to connecting classroom to career.

Audience Question: What about communities where the local employer is a small or medium-sized business? How do we avoid using the schools to create “company towns”?

Litow: What we’re talking about is a more systemic level of change here. There are a variety of tiers of involvement, from the type of involvement of a company like IBM to companies that would be interested in a less-intensive level of involvement. The common characteristic is the willingness to collaborate. We’re asking businesses, in addition to educators, to change.

Audience Question: What about teacher training when industry expertise lies in the industry?

Litow: One answer is IBM’s Transition to Teaching program that helps people who are interested in teaching as a second career transition to teaching.

King: We’re using some of our Race to the Top funds to help reorient teacher training to address the gaps in industry demand. But we still need to do a better job of connecting what’s taught in schools of education to what’s happening in the marketplace.

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03:39 p.m. — Panel 2 – Continued

Goldstein: We have to focus on the basics. For example, mathematics education in this country is in dire straits. So we have to improve standards for certification.

We also will have to create incentives and competition to reward teachers and institutions that are doing well. We can do all of these things, but it’s going to take resolve.

Audience Question: What about so-called “soft skills” that also contribute to success?

King: These skills are important because groups of students who excel in certain areas tend to work in groups, versus less successful groups where individuals tend to work alone. Learning how to work together is integral with other types of academic and career success. This is why the Common Core Standards matter. They help students develop a variety of skills.

Question from Opportunity Nation: How can parents play a more engaged role in their children’s success?

Polakow-Suransky: When young people understand all of what is expected of them, they are able to build successful communities among their peers. When students push each other to succeed, that becomes a very powerful learning tool. These ideas are not new, but they have been bifurcated – split between traditional “academic” tracks and CTE.

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03:50 p.m. — Remarks by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

You can’t have great schools without great leadership, and P-TECH is doing a great job.

I am more and more convinced that the skills crisis is a huge wake-up call for those of us in education to do more. Students need to know that what they’re doing is relevant and will lead to good jobs. P-TECH students understand that. By contrast, some students drop out of school because it’s too easy, not too hard. They’re not engaged.

YouTube Preview Image

My plea to the business community here is that we need you to do more. Educators can’t do it by themselves. If you want the next generation of consumers to buy your products or work in your firms, you have to help prepare them.

When you see companies like IBM stepping up, it’s amazing what can happen. Mentorships, internships and more help motivate students who often have to overcome a wide variety of obstacles from challenging home lives to lengthy commutes just to get to school.

We also need you to help break down the barriers of social isolation. We also need to establish and maintain high standards. We can’t reduce standards to make politicians look good. The business community has to demand high standards, both for achievement and for graduation rates. They have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

Finally, the business community needs to get its employees involved. We need to pressure ourselves to speed up, not slow down. The education system has not kept up with changes in the global marketplace. The middle class, skilled labor jobs that once were available to high school dropouts are gone and they’re not coming back.

_______

04:10 p.m. — Concluding Remarks

John Bridgeland, President and CEO of Civic EnterprisesI agree with Tony Carnevale that the purpose of developing students is to allow them to live fully in their time and to create advances in their time. Students need to understand the connection between what they’re doing now and what their expectations are in life. Furthermore, we need to ensure that career and technical education is a viable path to success. Part of that is reducing remediation for jobs that don’t require four-year degrees.

Robert Schwartz, Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education: What are the differentiators for success that have worked in other countries? Much of it has to do with building social partnerships – getting educators and employers to the same table to create educational programs that are relevant and targeted. The strongest European systems also are mainstream systems. Their focus on vocational education goes beyond thinking it is a great thing for other people’s children. These efforts have a direct effect on youth unemployment rates, which are much lower in countries like Switzerland, for example, than in the U.S.

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Duncan: The question is about how to scale the model – about how to create multiple
P-TECHs.

Litow: States and localities will have to take action to make this work.

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RESOURCES TO SHARE:

REPLAY the event from Roosevelt House

New York Times: At Technology High School, Goal Isn’t to Finish in Four Years

U.S. News & World Report: U.S. Needs New Educational Model for Economic Growth

Citizen IBM: The Stepping Stone to Global Competitveness

Citizen IBM: Exploring Public-Private Partnerships in STEM Education

Infographic: “Do the Math: How a STEM Education Is a Formula for Success

DOWNLOAD: Enterprising Pathways: Toward a National Plan of Action for
Career and Technical Education

DOWNLOAD: STEM Pathways to College and Careers Schools: A Development Guide

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October 23, 2012
5:11 PM

How can small businesses, who are critically dependent upon access to talent to succeed, play a role in influencing and affecting the pipeline of talent that is being created in this evolving higher education system?


Posted by: Chester Karwatowski
 
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June 12, 2013
11:07 AM

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Posted by: Alumni Notes: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Visits P-TECH | Fordham University Graduate School of Education
 
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