City Forward

Building a Smarter Chicago

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The City of Chicago has just announced its intention to open five grades nine through 14 schools that will confer both the high school diploma and an associate degree in technology – creating a direct connection from high school to college to careers. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel comments below about the important roles these Early College STEM Schools will play in the city’s economic development and jobs strategy.

How will these new grades 9-14 schools play into Chicago’s economic development and jobs strategy?

Mayor Emanuel: Chicago’s new STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Schools (grades 9-14) will represent an important step toward strengthening both our education system and Chicago’s skilled workforce. There are 100,000 jobs in Chicago right now that are going unfilled because companies are not finding workers with the appropriate skills. In order to keep and attract businesses in Chicago, we need to provide top employers with the country’s best-trained workforce. STEM schools will help address this gap in skills between employers and applicants.

What are some of the ways you hope the IBM experience in NYC and the Playbook will help Chicago implement this new grades 9-14 education model?

Mayor Emanuel: We worked closely with IBM to develop the Roadmap for Career and Technical Education, which we’ll use together with the STEM Pathways to College and Careers School Guide – the IBM Playbook. One of the major benefits of the grades 9-14 schools model is that it can be repeated successfully for other industries and in any school district. The IBM Playbook will give Chicago a recipe that we can adapt to our unique needs as we connect our educational offerings to jobs.

How has Chicago coordinated the partnerships across secondary and post-secondary schools and with corporate sponsors to create these new schools?

Mayor Emanuel: Public-private partnerships among educators, city leaders, parents, students and corporate sponsors are essential to creating these schools and making them work. Everybody has to contribute, and no single group can do it alone.

Chicago Public Schools, City Colleges of Chicago and IBM are working together on one of the first grades 9-14 schools. An IBM Smarter Cities Challenge team reviewed the Chicago labor market and found that the largest area for job growth over the next six years is in information technology. IBM will work with the school system and CCC to develop the curriculum for the IT-focused school, and will provide mentors for the school’s students and teachers. Graduates will then be first in line for jobs at IBM – a model that all of our corporate partners will follow.

Part of the grades 9-14 school model is to have an extended school day which you also just implemented across the school system. How do you see this helping train our students?

Mayor Emanuel: For far too long, our children have been shortchanged. With the full school day, our students will have the time to dedicate to core subjects like reading and math. Studies have shown that preparing students for 21st century jobs requires more time. Students need the additional learning time and personalized attention to master today’s curriculum – especially in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects. A key component of ensuring that students are prepared for college-level work is bolstering their STEM skills so they will not require remediation in these areas. Students requiring remediation in STEM subjects have a very high post-secondary failure rate.

Which industries, in addition to technology, are expected to provide the greatest opportunities to Chicago’s grades 9-14 graduates with STEM careers?

Mayor Emanuel: After an analysis of Chicago’s labor force, the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge team of experts determined that healthcare, hospitality, and manufacturing will provide the greatest opportunities to Chicago’s grades 9-14 graduates.  We’re looking at IT jobs in these industries, and not just preparing students to work at an IT company like IBM. Our goal with these grades 9-14 schools is to attract and retain a diversity of top-paying jobs to Chicago by providing a well-trained workforce to employers.

The Honorable Rahm Emanuel was elected the 55th mayor of Chicago on February 22nd, 2011 and was sworn in on May 16th, 2011. A native of Chicago with three terms representing his North Side district in Congress, Rahm Emanuel is deeply rooted in the life of the city.

Download the “STEM Pathways to College and Careers Schools: A Development Guide” playbook.

Download the Grades 9-14 Chicago and IBM School Partnership fact sheet.

Related Resources:

U.S. News & World Report: Grades 9 Through 14 School Model Strengthens Education-to-Work System

Building the Pipeline to Tomorrow’s Jobs: Smarter Cities Challenge, Chicago

Smarter Cities Challenge, Chicago: Contributing Expertise to Build Sustainable Value

Student Perspective: How P-TECH Inspired New Hope After Just One Semester

Student Perspective: Switching to a Grades 9-14 School

City Forward: Job Outlook in Chicago

City Forward: Chicago Jobs by Industry & Education Level

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