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State says P-TECH program would put high school students on job path

Maryland will launch a local version of a national program for students blending high school curriculum, college courses and work experience in four high schools in the state, including two in Baltimore.

Gov. Larry Hogan and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced the $10 million initiative Monday at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School — a likely candidate to be one of the city schools hosting the program.

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Pathways in Technology Early College High School, or P-TECH, was developed as a model by IBM as a way to ensure more students graduate equipped with skills that lead directly to jobs.

Maryland would be the fourth state to adopt the program. There are 40 P-TECH schools in New York, Connecticut and Illinois.

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Officials said students participating in P-TECH would graduate from the six-year program with a high school diploma and a two-year degree at a community college in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) disciplines. The schools will offer paid internships and mentorships in the private sector. There would be no entrance requirements for students who wish to enroll.

"Successful P-TECH graduates will be first in line for jobs in the private sector, or they can apply their skills and their knowledge to go on to college," said Hogan, who described the initiative as a way to expand education choices for Maryland families.

"Students will gain in-demand skills," he said.

Two P-TECH pilot schools would be in the city, but the other two would be in rural areas of the state — Hogan did not indicate where. Once the four pilot schools are established, the program could be replicated in other areas of the state, he said.

Rawlings-Blake said she believes P-TECH will help students in the city who do not grow up in homes where their parents work at Johns Hopkins or Kaiser Permanente and are not sure what it takes to get a job there.

"We are going to level that playing field, and we are going to create pathways so that our young people are truly prepared for college career and life," she said.

The governor did not say when the program would launch. The state will have to offer a request for proposals to ask businesses and community colleges to take part in the schools. Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels said he was hopeful that the university can partner with Dunbar.

"I will make no secret of the fact that Johns Hopkins is keenly interested in deepening our long-standing partnership with Dunbar, and opening a health-focused P-TECH school right here," said Daniels.

Hogan said IBM and Kaiser Permanente also are interested in building partnerships with school districts and community colleges.

Stanley S. Litow, IBM vice president of corporate citizenship and corporate affairs and president of the IBM International Foundation, said his company is committed to partnering with a school and also will provide support for the P-TECH network as it becomes established in Maryland.

He and other officials said the program would do more than teach skills; they said it would be a direct path into the STEM fields.

"This is not your grandfather's vo-tech," Litow said.

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