MDC, City of Miami team up to create ‘Miami Tech Charter School’

 Miami Dade College President Madeline Pumariega and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced today that the college and the city will create a “Miami Tech Charter School.”  The new school will be part of a workforce strategy ensuring local tech talent is grown, recruited and  prepared to meet the needs of the expanding tech industry in Miami, they said during a press conference on MDC’s Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami.

The school will start with 200 high school students this August on Miami Dade College’s Wolfson campus and will eventually grow to a K-12 program, Suarez said. Students will graduate with an associate’s degree in a technology field from Miami Dade College for free, what Suarez called “game-changing.”  An RFP for a private-sector school operator will be going out shortly. The announcement comes on the heels of the governor’s investment of over $89 million in workforce education, $2 million of which is earmarked for MDC for this purpose. It also follows a period of intense investment by Miami Dade College in tech-focused workforce training programs.

Amid the Miami tech movement the community is experiencing, said Pumariega: “There’s only one thing that could stop the flywheel and that’s talent. Nothing else can slow us down…. We always say here talent is universal, opportunity is not, and the way you bridge talent and opportunities is with skills. And this announcement today is about building those skills right here in downtown Miami.”

In her remarks, MDC’s president also talked about the evolution of Miami Dade College becoming a cultural engine of the community with its signature book fair and film festival as well as the New World School of the Arts and School for Advanced Studies. “It’s the fusion of the creative class and we know if we strengthen that class [with tech], then it’s limitless how quick this flywheel can go and how we can transform this community.”

In his remarks, Suarez said democratizing opportunities for high-paying jobs in tech for all Miamians starts with education. When he felt a desire to get involved in potentially creating a tech-focused school, one of the first people he called was the president of MDC, “a place that has been providing hope and opportunity for generations of people,” Suarez said.

“We look at this ecosystem-building project as a holistic project and one where every child has an opportunity to have a premium education for free, and will graduate with an associate’s degree provided by Miami Dade College in technology, and that is game changing,” Suarez continued. “This is just the beginning of our partnership with Miami Dade College because we have some other ideas of some other campuses that we can create. And this is the beginning of Miami as a city getting involved in education, because we believe that pathways to prosperity begin primarily with education.”

Antonio Delgado, VP of Innovation and Technology Partnerships for MDC, said the college leadership will be working closely with the new charter school operator that is selected, and more details will be more forthcoming at that time. But he said the new school will likely follow the model of School for Advanced Studies at Miami Dade College, which offers high school students a dual enrollment program for MDC associate degrees in arts. This new school will offer courses and degrees that can lead to the most in-demand tech jobs that are being created in Miami; that would likely be in computer science, cybersecurity, business intelligence/data analystics and cloud computing/networking, Delgado said in an interview after the announcement.

Since the announcement just a couple of hours ago, parents have already been inquiring about the school. Delgado’s message: Stay tuned.

“We will have more [details] once we get the school operator and we start defining the curriculum, but we’ve got the funding and it is happening,” Delgado said about the inquiries. “But it shows there is excitement about it and the community is eager to get into these opportunities. We are on the right track.”

This story has been updated. Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg and email her at [email protected]


Nancy Dahlberg