Let's run through the list of things that High Tech High will bring to the table of the future:
- A laptop for every child. (They will be traded in for computerized tablets soon.)
- Smart cards that track student movement throughout the school.
- Virtual teaching assistants.
- Software that will allow parents to track students' progress from home.
- Lockers that open with the swipe of a smart card.
- A fully wireless building.
- Virtually no textbooks.
- Plasma screens & Plasma Boards.
- Ceiling projectors.
- Interactive white boards.
- Classroom furniture is on wheels to allow for group work in varying configurations.
- Students will be required to apply to at least one college. (huh?)
- A later start. School will begin at 9:15 a.m., acting on research that says teens think better a little later in the day.
- Photovoltaic panels in the windows and roof will convert sunlight into electricity.
- The building also will catch rainwater and convert it for non-potable uses, such as toilet and boiler water.
- The school also has established partnerships with local universities.
- Teachers were hand-picked by the principal.
- "They have those sinks that you just put your hands like that and the water comes out."
- "Mirrors for girls."
- "Toilets flush by themselves. It's all just so nice."
There's only one little thing they forgot to upgrade:
The curriculum is traditional academic with a focus on projects and interdisciplinary learning.So all those improvements will amount to little more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic because they're still going to be teaching the same old crap. And, last I checked, the traditional high school curriculum hasn't worked all that well with the typical skill set that this population of kids will have. And, the "focus on projects" and "interdiscliplinary learning" are, at best, neutral when it comes to academic success. If anything, they tend to drive academic performance down because they complicate and throw unecessary variables into the learning process.
In case you were wondering here are the projected demographics of the school.
Mark my words, High Tech High will turn out to be an expensive failure that peforms no better than other similarly situated high schools. It'll all end in tears.
Racial breakdown of student body: 95 percent African American.
Gender: 54 percent female, 46 percent male
Economic background: 85 percent come from low-income families.
Special-education population: 12 percent
Entrance requirements: 75 percent of students are from the neighborhood and 25 percent from the rest of the city. Students currently in eighth grade must apply by Nov. 17 to the district for entrance in the 2007-08 school year. Enrollment is determined by lottery.
Update: Rightwingprof comments on High Tech High and deconstructs the principal's silly comments in this Reuters article. That principal will certainly be an albatross around the neck of the students. It'll take a lot more than plasma white boards to compsensate for the edunonsense being peddled at High Tech High. Bill gates really needs to learn a thing or two about education before pissing his and Microsoft's money away on this crap.
Mayor Street has already all but given High Tech High the kiss of death:
"You won't be able to say, 'I didn't have the computers. I didn't have the technology. I didn't have the teachers. I didn't have mentors,' because the young people who go to this school will be in the premier educational environment in the entire country, maybe even in the entire world," Street said. "So the bar for you is raised."These poor kids. High Tech High is going to be one of the most embarrassing education experiments we've ever seen. You can take that to the bank.