Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH)
Brooklyn NY 11213
Students will graduate with an associates degree & an in at IBM
Very limited arts; lopsided male/female ratio; long day not for everyone
Students at Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-Tech) may earn two years of college credit in addition to a high school diploma. Some graduate with a free associate's degree in four years; others may stay up to six years. Students choose from two majors: introduction to computer programming and electromagnetic engineering.
This Career and Technical Education school, housed in the Paul Robeson Educational Campus, is designed to prepare students for entry-level technology jobs, such as answering customer's questions.
Developed in partnership with CUNY and the IBM Corporation, P-Tech offers a long day (8:35 a.m. to 4:06 p.m.), a Saturday Academy, and a mandatory Summer Bridge program for new students. IBM offers mentors for students and has promised P-Tech graduates preferential hiring upon graduation.
"The industry connection is very important," said Principal Rashid Davis, who founded the school in 2011. "The beauty is having the conversation about hiring and the skills we need to fine tune." Davis, formerly principal of Bronx Engineering and Technical Academy (BETA), is committed to ensuring black males, who make up three-quarters of the student body, graduate from both high school and college.
Most classes have two or three teachers, so students get plenty of individual attention. Students are strongly encouraged to stay after school for tutoring. Many attend summer enrichment classes, such as one in geometry, to give them a head start on their Regents exams.
Students take double periods of English, math, history and technology so they can complete their high school requirements as quickly as possible and go on to college level classes. The expectation is that every student will be in calculus by year four.
As early as 10th grade, students may take classes taught by professors from CUNY New York City Technical College, who come to P-Tech. They behaved maturely in a college speech class we visited. Students presented Power Point presentations and their classmates who clapped and gave constructive criticism. One speech made the case that students should not have to list their ethnicity when taking standardized exams, charging that if black and Hispanic students are consistently being singled out as lower-performing this could affect their confidence. We also saw a lively physics lesson about motion and force, taught by a former circus clown, in which students used a whisk broom to move a bowling bowl.
The school's focus is clearly on technology. While there are lots of laptops--even in English classes--there are no textbooks and not a lot of books of any kind. An American History class made do with photocopied documents and a Barron's guide to the Regents exam. The humanities classes we visited seemed to be tightly geared to preparation for Regents exams, an effort that seems to be paying off. In the school's first year, 72 percent of the students passed the English Regents, usually taken in junior year; 42 percent scored above a 75, high enough to avoid taking remedial courses at college.
P-Tech offers no foreign language classes and only an introductory art class (although it does offer computer graphics and computer assisted design). "We're not a comprehensive high school. We're not trying to do it all," said Davis.
Students don't wear uniforms and there is a casual air in the classrooms. We saw students with bottled drinks perched on their desks, feet up on chairs and one girl was even sucking on a lollipop. "You have to pick your battles," said Davis, noting that he wasn't on hand to supervise them on the college campus where older students take classes.
Davis began a peer mediation program when suspensions increased in the school's second year, mostly for fighting. "We're not going to look like a juvenile detention center," he said.
Parent and students' initial safety concerns about the building's location, across the street from the Albany Houses, have been alleviated, said a parent. High attendance is "a strong indication that parents and students got over that fear that this is a crime-ridden neighborhood. Once families come and see the routine, they feel safe," said Davis.
The physical plant is worn. Walls need paint; desks are scuffed; water fountains don't work and bathrooms are locked. On the positive side, student has a locker. The three schools in the building share a library, cafeteria, and combined gym and auditorium. About a fifth of students participate in building-wide sports teams but the only after school clubs are robotics and a MOUSE squad.
Special education: Students with special need are integrated in all classrooms. Because all classes have two or three teachers, there is little stigma in being in a team-teaching class, Davis said.
Admissions: Priority is given to Brooklyn students who attend an information session or fair. (Pamela Wheaton, December 2012)
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Boys PSAL teams
Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Handball, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track, Soccer, Tennis
Girls PSAL teams
Basketball, Cross Country, Indoor Track, Outdoor Track