As Superintendent of North Carolina’s Wake County Public School System, I lead a district where thousands of employees are committed to ensuring every student receives a quality education. But we do not work alone. It is an endeavor that also includes parents, students and community partners.
It was in that spirit that our community began developing a new strategic plan in spring 2014 when several hundred people gathered on a Friday night to talk about the future of public education in our county. That discussion was followed by an online survey that attracted 11,000 participants, a town hall meeting of more than 750 people and months
of debate among a working group of parents, teachers, students, community leaders
As a teacher at Brooklyn’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH), I’ve seen first hand how engaging young people unleashes their potential and enables them to transform themselves. Most of our students come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, and enter P-TECH (an open admissions school) with a variety of academic and social issues. But with constructive engagement through our integrated program of classroom and workplace learning, our students are achieving amazing things!
In addition to rigorous course work and essential mentor/protégé relationships for each
P-TECH student, our program includes workplace and other instructional opportunities that give our students a heads-up view of the world outside of their neighborhoods and beyond the scope of traditional schooling. That’s why our students and I were so excited to visit IBM’s Thomas Watson Research Center as part of the company’s Local Education Outreach Program. It turns out that IBM leads the world in patents, and our students’ visit to one of IBM’s creative innovation nerve centers proved to be a mind-opening experience for them…and for me!
President Obama’s proposal to provide free community college across the U.S. is expected to cost upwards of $1.4 billion in 2016 and $60 billion over the next 10 years. Can America afford it? The real question is: How can we not?
In my latest article for The Huffington Post, you’ll read about the latest data showing a disturbing and widening gap in college completion rates between the nation’s rich and poor students. But you’ll also read about an innovative and collaborative solution that’s helping everyday students – many from low-income families – unlock their potential for success.
Find out how this innovation that’s connecting education to jobs has grown from one to
27 schools in less than four years, and will scale to reach 100,000 students nationwide
by 2016. And learn why Congress must fund and modernize the legislation that provides critical funding for programs that prepare our young people to enter the real 21st
A former Deputy Chancellor of the New York City Schools, Stanley S. Litow is
IBM’s Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs and President
of the IBM International Foundation.
With industries from health care to retail gearing up for transformation with IBM Watson cognitive computing, it only makes sense that the next generation of innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs be given the opportunity to work with this breakthrough technology. That’s why IBM and The City University of New York (CUNY) collaborated to sponsor the CUNY-IBM Watson Competition to propose ideas for applications to improve higher education and city services in New York. More than 100 student innovators from across CUNY’s campuses participated in the competition for $10,000 in prize money. Three winning teams from among 10 finalists were announced on January 15, 2015. The teams presented their ideas to a panel of judges from Baruch College, the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation, Con Edison, and IBM. First place winner LMSW demonstrated how IBM Watson could be used to integrate information across all New York City agencies to help social workers serve children and families more effectively. Second place winner SmartCall proposed ways to improve New York’s 311 citizen information system by using IBM Watson to optimize operations and streamline costs. Third place went to Advyzr, a mobile application that provides personalized academic advising to college students by integrating the information they’ve provided about their academic goals and preferences.
As demonstrated in the famous Jeopardy! Challenge against the game’s top all-time winners, IBM Watson has the power to understand questions posed in natural language, and propose evidence-based answers to aid in human decision making. Last October, IBM Watson opened its global headquarters at 51 Astor Place, making New York City the epicenter for a new era of cognitive computing. The CUNY-IBM Watson student app competition was the latest example of IBM’s collaboration with academia to apply Watson’s capabilities to solve complex challenges. The competition also gave students access to hands-on training with technology industry experts, and the chance to build valuable technology and business development skills. Continue Reading »
Some people may think of our cultural and historical sites as permanent, but we in the preservation field remain very much aware of the delicacy of our cultural heritage. Natural disasters, human aggression and the passage of time all can jeopardize the cultural and historical sites that many of us take for granted. That’s why the California-based nonprofit CyArk has operated internationally since 2003 to create a free, 3D digital online library of the world’s cultural heritage sites. In 2011, IBM joined forces with CyArk to preserve and share some of California’s cultural heritage.
The recent 6.0 magnitude earthquake that rumbled through Northern California focused attention on the need to preserve and protect the State’s cultural sites, including Wolf House – the family estate of author Jack London, and a designated California and National Historic Landmark. To help preserve the legacy of the site, CyArk, the California Department of Parks and Recreation and local engineering firm Locus Construction Services initiated the digital archiving process. Assisting them were students from Technology High School in Rohnert Park, California, who volunteered their time as part of an IBM Teachers TryScience project.
On International Volunteer Day 2014, we reflect on the interdependence of service and leadership.
The word “volunteer” has lost some of its luster in recent years, and that’s unfortunate. In a world where nearly every culture celebrates selflessness and caring for others, it seems only fitting that influential organizations should incorporate service into leadership development. IBM takes this commitment several steps further – not only by integrating citizenship and service into the company’s overall business strategy, but by enabling other companies to participate in IBM’s Culture of Service, and standing as a global example of how a values-driven organization can affect meaningful and sustainable change.
To volunteer is to contribute value by giving of one’s self. And when what one gives – time, talent, innovative technologies – has the power to transform its recipient, one does more than simply serve. Deploying cloud and mobile technologies to coordinate disaster relief & recovery or enable management of essential public health issues saves lives. Developing data analytics solutions that make timely transportation possible amid the crushing populations of growing cities moves economies from second-rate to world class. Connecting people – to information, to their governments and to each other – allows us to aggregate our intelligence to preserve our humanity. A culture of service inspires the desire to serve, and provides the opportunities and tools that make service possible.
After launching its first P-TECH school (the Norwalk Early College Academy) this fall, the State of Connecticut plans to open two additional schools in time for the next academic year. Why the rush? Because Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy understands the urgent need to provide a navigable pathway from high school to college and career for his state’s young people. P-TECH already is doing that in New York City, across New York State and in Chicago, and now communities in New London and Windham, Connecticut will benefit from IBM’s innovative reinvention of American education.
Connecticut’s announcement of two new Early College Opportunity programs based on the IBM P-TECH model comes on the heels of IBM’s release of an updated P-TECH Playbook designed to guide the development of these and future P-TECH schools. The Playbook offers case studies, “best practices” and other resources to help school districts, higher education institutions and corporate sponsors form the public-private partnerships that are essential to connecting education to jobs. By following the Playbook, such cross-sector partnerships will be able to develop the academically rigorous and economically relevant workplace skills curricula that characterize P-TECH schools. These open-admissions schools work within existing budgets to close the gap between college and employment preparedness and the real-world, global demands of the 21st Century.
The Urban Affairs Coalition (UAC) of Philadelphia recently hosted its annual fundraising event, and I was reminded of the valuable partnerships that are helping us transform the quality of life for our city’s young adults. The UAC’s mission is to “unite government, business, neighborhoods, and individual initiatives to improve the quality of life in the region, build wealth in urban communities, and solve emerging issues.” Our partner
IBM Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs has played a critical role in helping us meet our goals. The fundraising event attracted more than $500,000 in donations, and brought together over 900 community and business leaders to help us fulfill our mission.
As the fiscal sponsor for more than 55 partner organizations, UAC provides back-end financial and human resources support that frees non-profit organizations to dedicate
their time, talent and treasure to providing crucial services for more 150,000 adults,
youth and children. UAC aspires to become a high-tech, high-touch, high-quality resource for our partner organizations, and IBM is helping us on this journey. With the help of an
IBM Technology Road Map Impact Grant, we developed a scalable technology strategy that will enable us to meet our partners’ needs today and into the future.
IBM created the P-TECH grades 9 through 14 schools model because we recognized a serious societal problem, and had the skill and desire to address it. In short, too many of America’s young people were being trapped in unending cycles of poverty (whether or not they could find full-time or part-time work), while American industry – starved for skilled workers – needed to re-sharpen its competitive edge. The solution was not to write checks, but to get involved. Only by fostering a community of stakeholders including educators, employers, governments, parents, teachers and students would we solve a problem together that no single sector could solve alone.
Each P-TECH school is a partnership that unites school districts, community colleges
and corporate sponsors in service to a singular goal – to help our young people succeed.
P-TECH schools help students succeed by focusing their education on academic rigor and workplace readiness, by providing each young scholar with a mentor, and by making each graduate first in line for employment consideration with the school’s corporate partner. What began in 2011 with one school in Brooklyn, New York is spreading to nearly 40 schools around the nation, and could reach 100 schools by 2016.
What’s P-TECH’s “secret sauce”? We’re sharing the recipe through a new website which houses our updated digital playbook. Together, these resources deliver the tools, case studies, research and guidance that school districts, higher education institutions and businesses can use to establish new P-TECH schools. Whether you are an employer, an educator, a government or community leader, a parent or several of the above, we invite you to examine and share these materials.
Get involved. Speak up. Take action to provide our children with the 21st century education they need and deserve.