President Obama visits Pathways in Technology Early College High

Nayaba Arinde | 10/31/2013, 12:51 p.m.
President Barack Obama visited Pathways in Technology Early College High School in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, on Friday, Oct. 24

“We should be doing everything we can to keep families from falling into poverty and build more ladders of opportunity to help people who are willing to work hard climb out of poverty. We should be doing everything we can to welcome new generations of hopeful, striving immigrants.”

He got to the crux of his point when he told the students, “We live in a 21st century global economy. And in a global economy, jobs can go anywhere. Companies, they’re looking for the best-educated people, wherever they live, and they’ll reward them with good jobs and good pay. And if you don’t have a well- educated workforce, you’re going to be left behind. If you don’t have a good education, then it is going to be hard for you to find a job that pays a living wage.”

According to Obama, big business married to education is the key to success. “Here at P-TECH, you’ve got folks from IBM, City Tech, City University of New York, City Department of Education—everybody is pulling together to make sure a high school education puts young people on a path to a good job. So you guys have opportunities here that you don’t find in most high schools yet. You can take college-level courses in math and science. You can work with mentors from IBM, so you’re learning specific skills that you know leads to a good job. And most important, you’ll graduate with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree in computer systems or electromechanical engineering. And that means you’ll be in demand. Companies will want to hire you. IBM has even said that P-TECH graduates will be first in line when you apply for jobs once you graduate.”

With the cost of higher education going through the roof, Obama said that he and Education Secretary Duncan “are working hard to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to reduce the burden of student loans on young people. Here’s how much two years of college will cost P-TECH students and their families: zero. Nothing.”

Problem is, the students of Paul Robeson and so many other schools under Bloomberg will not have that opportunity because they are being phased out gradually either by colocation or charter school placement.

With Cuomo in New York and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel planning to open schools like P-TECH, “This is a ticket into the middle class, and it’s available to everybody who’s willing to work for it ... Across the country, companies like Verizon and Microsoft and ConEd and Cisco, they saw what IBM was doing, and they said, ‘Well, this is a good idea, we can do this, too.’ So they’re working with educators and states to replicate what you’re already doing here.”

The president noted, “We’ve got to give every child an earlier start at success by making high-quality pre-school available to every 4-year-old in America. We should give every student access to the world’s information. When I went into the classroom today, young people were working off computers, and the problem is a lot of places, even if they’ve got computers, they’re not hooked up to wireless.”