President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil a new $100 million competitive grant program called Youth CareerConnect, that will target preparing high school students for high-tech careers.
The program will deliver 25 to 40 competitive grants of between $2 million and $7 million to teams of secondary schools and higher education institutions that pair together to build programs that prepare students for the job market.
The new program, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, draws inspiration from career and technical education programs such as P-TECH, a grade nine through 14 school in New York City that Obama visited late last month. The school graduates students with associate degrees in applied sciences in information technology — and, just as important, those degrees are aligned to the requirements for entry-level jobs at companies like IBM.
IBM helped design the curriculum at P-TECH and provides mentoring for students. Though it just launched in 2011, the P-TECH model has already been replicated in four schools in Chicago and two additional schools in New York City.
Now let's say down the road they discover that locking children into careers at the age of 14 by putting them into high school/community college hybrids is a problem.
Let's say they discover that 14 year olds sometimes have an idea of what they want to do in life, but that often that idea changes as they grow and discover new things.
Let's say that you have this high school/community college hybrid that does not allow for this natural evolution of growth but rather locks students into career majors at 14 and forces students who attend these schools to continue on with their course of study even if their original interest in that subject or career has flagged.
Should this kind of school be scaled up after just a couple of trial years or should they wait a few more years and evaluate the program after they have more of their precious data (like graduation rates, attrition rates and the like)?
And if this high school/community college hybrid turns out to be overhyped jive, will Barack Obama or Arne Duncan be held accountable for the overhype and overfunding?