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Obama touts IBM-backed tech education program

February 25, 2013 06:00 AM ET

Computerworld - In his recent State of the Union address, President Barack Obama had some nice things to say about tech vendors, specifically drawing attention to Apple, IBM and Intel.

The president praised Apple for its plan to begin "making Macs in America again," and Intel for its $5 billion chip plant in Arizona.

But of the vendor initiatives that he mentioned, the most revolutionary may be an IBM-backed program that aims to make IT professionals out of high school students. Called P-Tech and based in Brooklyn, N.Y., it's a high school-community college combo. Its principal, Rashid Davis, said he was "surprised and happy" about the high-profile shout-out.

But, Davis said, the point the president made didn't apply to P -Tech alone. "The high school diploma is no longer enough," he said, stressing that people need higher levels of education to support families.

In his speech, Obama noted that countries like Germany "focus on graduating their high school students with the equivalent of a technical degree from one of our community colleges."

That's what P-Tech does. Its 227 students can concurrently pursue high school diplomas and associate's degrees in an IT disciplines.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

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