P-Tech revolutionizes the structure of high school by encouraging students to attend the school for grades 9 through 14. This essentially extends high school into the early years of college. Over those six years, the goal is for students to complete both a high-school diploma and an associate’s degree. Graduates can either enter the workforce equipped with a postsecondary degree—no tuition, so no student debt—or continue on to a traditional college with a bevy of class credits in hand.
Stan Litow is IBM’s vice president of corporate citizenship and corporate affairs—and a former deputy chancellor of New York City public schools—who was intimately involved with the founding of P-Tech. “The idea of getting into the workforce with just a high-school diploma is an idea from the past,” he says now. “We needed to come up with a new model.”
The one in Brooklyn involves an intensive partnership with a big business. IBM helped design the school and continues to provide P-Tech students with mentors, internships, a dedicated staff person, and countless hours of pro bono work—an investment that Litow figures is worth $1 million to $2 million a year. All P-Tech graduates are first in line for available jobs at IBM that fit their skill level.