Local “Design Tech” High School in the New York Times

Do any readers have children attending this school?  Are they receiving a well-rounded high school education, or are they primarily receiving high-tech vocational training?!?

Now on Oracle’s Campus, a $43 Million Public High School

And while we are on the topic of tech influencing education, here’s a related article regarding Summit charter schools and “personalized learning.”

I have also added a comment regarding this Summit article in the Comments section below.

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Author: David Kristofferson

Retired Ph.D. scientist, teacher (after retiring from industry, taught in private and public high schools and then worked a decade in my own private tutoring business), bioinformatician (managed both the NIH-funded GenBank National Nucleic Acid Sequence Databank and the BIONET National Computer Resource for Molecular Biology), IT director at Eos and Raven Biotechnologies, software product manager, AAAS Fellow, avid cyclist, and backpacker!

One thought on “Local “Design Tech” High School in the New York Times”

  1. A very interesting section from the Mother Jones article:

    “Soon after Summit founder Diane Tavenner received her teaching credential in 1994, she started working at Hawthorne High School in Los Angeles, where 90 percent of students were kids of color, 90 percent were poor, and 90 percent were learning English. The year she got there, she told me, more kids had dropped out of the senior class than would go on to graduate.

    Tavenner was 22 and had no teaching experience or coaching support. The portable classroom where she worked was located right next to the bathrooms, the site of frequent fights. “My students were amazing human beings,” Tavenner recalled when I met her in Summit’s Redwood City office, about a 10-minute drive from Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park. “But they were in an environment that was set up for their failure. It was a very unsafe place for kids—physically and emotionally.”

    The following year, Tavenner and a few of her colleagues took 70 incoming freshmen with the lowest grades and poor attendance in middle school and created a small academy. Rather than putting them into remedial math and English, Tavenner and her colleagues designed more challenging college prep classes. Teachers spent extra time building strong relationships and providing one-on-one tutoring. Two years later, no academy students had dropped out.

    But soon athletic coaches started requesting afternoons for practice, and the schedule changed. The new arrangement, Tavenner said, made it impossible to keep the academy students together with the same teachers. “I felt so disillusioned,” she said. “I realized there are all of these entrenched interests that prevent anything from changing.””

    I must admit that in my last five years of tutoring I am constantly amazed by the amount of students’ time that currently gets sucked up by after school sports.

    When I went to public school in the pre-Proposition 13 days, we had excellent PE classes, FIVE days a week. We started with *vigorous* calisthenics and then engaged in competitive sports ranging from football to baseball to wrestling to track and cross-country, and even including learning sports like golf and volleyball at various times of the year.

    My PE teachers were excellent and instilled in me a life-long appreciation for physical fitness (my mileage totals on my bike this year will exceed 6,000 miles including well over half a million vertical feet of climbing!).

    AND we took showers afterwards and returned to class CLEAN, not dripping with sweat and slathered in deodorant as often occurs now in the event that someone actually exerts themselves in PE class.
    Anyone who was serious about academics spent their afternoons and evening studying. Only kids who were interested in college or professional sports did otherwise, but now unfortunately every student seems to think that they have to also excel in athletics to get into a good school. By trying to do everything, nothing is covered in depth.

    Others have written, and I tend to agree, that the biggest improvement in U.S. academic performance could be obtained by deemphasizing sports. The current system makes us great in the Olympics, but at what cost to the average student?!?

    To do this without exacerbating society’s obesity problem, however, we would have to restore regular PE classes to the high standard that California once maintained. This would probably benefit the health of far more students than does the current system.


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