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IBM grant to re-shape curricula, re-train staff at five technology high schools

Updated: January 23, 2012 3:45AM

Five Chicago Public high schools — spread across the city — will have their curricula re-shaped and teachers re-trained to focus on math, science and technology “jobs of tomorrow,” thanks to a $400,000 “challenge grant” from IBM.

The new high schools will be modeled after an IBM-shaped and bankrolled high school in Brooklyn that allows its students to attend grades 9 through 14 and graduate with an associate’s degree in computer sciences.

The new Chicago schools will not include two extra years of high school that end in an associate’s degree. But, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he has other plans for students in, what he called Grades 13 and 14.

“The first goal is the high schools. But, I have … put a lot of thought into the future of community colleges. So, stay tuned. It’s not something that’s lost,” the mayor said.

Emanuel said he’s particularly pleased about IBM’s decision to become “true partners” on five technology high schools in Chicago, five times as many as the company helped open in New York.

“That’s what I love about this. They’re not just writing a check, cutting a ribbon and saying, ‘Call you later.’ IBM is dedicating staff, starting next Friday,” the mayor said.

“They will literally be going to schools, analyzing ‘em. ... They are putting skin in the game — real skin in the game. They’re not just writing a check, then doing a press release. It is back-up with staff and training, making sure that the right principal, the right teachers are there with the full education, and they understand the material to ensure that the resources they’re putting in are backed up with the best training.”

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