The Pittsburgh Promise has become more promising with the announcement last week that students will be able to use scholarship money for certain career and technology programs at Community College of Allegheny County while still attending high school.
Unveiled in 2006 and funded by the generosity of UPMC, foundations, corporations and other donors, the Promise has been a success. It has made it possible for Pittsburgh Public Schools students to access a college, trade or technical school education in Pennsylvania, with the hope of encouraging families to move to or stay in Pittsburgh to be eligible for the program.
Allowing students to use scholarship money toward vocational training while still in high school is an excellent policy expansion, similar to the German education system’s use of apprenticeships to secure stable careers for students not going to standard colleges. The change acknowledges the reality that family-sustaining jobs can be found in technical and vocational fields that require their own specialized education, sometimes during high school.
According to the executive director of the Pittsburgh Promise, Saleem Ghubril, the training could be enough to move students from minimum-wage jobs paying $20,000 to $25,000 a year to skill-based positions that pay $35,000 to $40,000. That represents a huge difference in quality of life.
Long gone are the days when the holder of only a high school diploma could expect to find a good job — the wage gap between those with a post-secondary education and those without has never been greater. Helping Pittsburgh students to attain higher incomes helps the city reach a brighter future. That’s a promise everyone should get behind.