WHY CUT KIDS INTERNSHIPS?
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At New York Harbor School our students are unusually well informed and aware of the impact climate change will have on this city. The rising seas, already 70% of the planet, will reclaim significantly more land more in the decade to come. While we hope New York does not become Atlantis, the importance of New Yorkers being able to cope with these changes is frighteningly present. The future is NOW. This one little school is part of our city's defense plan as we train the ocean engineers, the biologists, climate change specialists, the marine policy advisors, the divers and the vessel operators equipped to face these challenges. If the statistic that only 14% of waterfront jobs are actually held by New Yorkers isn't enough for a wakeup call, then perhaps the apocalyptic future might be?
Yet the very heart of the CTE program that we offer as training for the above skills has been eviscerated in the last weeks. The Perkins allotments from the Federal side once permitted our upper-class students to expect on-the-job training in their senior year ( including and junior to senior summer) for (formerly) 240 hours for critical minimum wage internships. For students not going to college directly, they were the gateway to employment. For those choosing college they were key to creating a profile that gained them acceptance to better schools to pursue their dreams to be, for instance, a ferry pilot. But these access points, so vital for a Diversity school like ours (one of only 5 in NYC high schools) has now been radically, brutally slashed to 60 hours for the ENTIRE 4 years of high school! That is a 70% CUT in funding for education.
There are 47 CTE schools in NYC. Apparently, we are now pitted not only against them for funding but also against any other school in the city who offers internships.
From the employers we now are hearing doors slamming, as 60 hours—a mere week and a half of work— isn't enough to teach anyone anything useful (so why bother? ) The relationships we spent years and resources building up will now crumble from disuse. And this "improvement" was thrust on us with NO WARNING.
The inequity of this is something you must be alert to. Students who can AFFORD unpaid internships will now be favored over those who simply cannot. These kids at our school will be forced to take low-level jobs that are unskilled and irrelevant to their goals as they may be, jobs bussing tables or stocking shelves to make money, because they cannot afford not to work.
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