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School's Out Forever at SV High Tech High 190

theodp writes "Touted as a model of successful education by the likes of Bill Gates, Silicon Valley's High Tech High just held its first — and last — commencement ceremony, graduating only 21 students in its brief history. Despite the financial support of the world's richest man, the charter school cited money woes as it voted to shut its doors. Adding insult to the poor HTH kids' injury, the local public H.S. district plunked down $8.6M to snatch up their abandoned school and will turn it over to a brand new crop of kids in the fall."
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School's Out Forever at SV High Tech High

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  • Insult? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MindStalker ( 22827 ) <mindstalker@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Sunday June 24, 2007 @10:42AM (#19627831) Journal
    Adding insult? Oh come on. If this school had just gone to waste that would be an insult. It will probably be a good school in the long run.
  • Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @10:43AM (#19627833)
    Education is not about modern equipment. In fact modern equipmetn may seriously hinder education at times, when the sudents attention and mental capabilities are bound more by the technology they used than the subject they are learning. My guess is it will still take a few decades (or centuries) until computers can compete with pen and paper and blackboard (that have been perfected for a few centuries as well...). I know that in order to be creative and insightful I use pen and paper or, even better, a whiteboard.

    Incidentially some of the "worlds richest men" are directly responsible for a slow computer revolution.
  • Insult to injury? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by saforrest ( 184929 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @10:44AM (#19627839) Journal
    Adding insult to the poor HTH kids' injury, the local public H.S. district plunked down $8.6M to snatch up their abandoned school and will turn it over to a brand new crop of kids in the fall.

    How on earth could this possibly be considered an insult? Because the public school district is so apparently awash in cash yet didn't subsidize their extremely specialized and (apparently) financially unsuccessful school, but instead let it flounder? Cry me a goddamned river.
  • Maybe I would have thrived there, instead of ultimately getting the hell out, getting my GED, and putting in time at community college before going on to uni. I certainly don't like the fact that only those wealthy enough were able to go, but I think that this is what our public high schools should be. Innovative, creative, and fun, with the chance to implement what is being learned. I believe that it would go a long way to getting rid of the, "Why do I need to learn this?" attitude that even I was guilty of at the time.

    Unfortunately, K-12 education isn't exactly where the government's priorities are. Maybe one day.
  • Re:Insult? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wellington Grey ( 942717 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @11:40AM (#19628105) Homepage Journal

    Adding insult?

    Agreed. I would be adding insult in Apple bought the school.

    -Grey [wellingtongrey.net]
  • by Tony ( 765 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @11:53AM (#19628169) Journal
    Our school system issues aren't all the fault of the government. Sure, "No child left behind" has fucked it up even more, but we can only lay a certain amount of blame on the government.

    Our society looks down on education, to the point where we pass over well-educated, well-spoken presidential candidates for the apparent moron, the "regular joe guy I'd like to have a beer with." (Sorry, he doesn't drink any more, so you won't get that chance. But if you want to do some blow, he's the man.) Until we start respecting education as a society, our school system is doomed.

    Not that we can't fix the government's problems with education, while we're waiting: stop funding schools based on property taxes, which slants education in favor of the rich, and punishes the poor. Stop pretending you can replace teachers with a computer, or some bloke off the street, and start paying them better. Repeal "No Child Left Behind."

    Anyway. We've got a long way to go before we can fix our education system. But there's a lot more than the government at work here.
  • Re:Not surprising (Score:2, Insightful)

    by skaladis ( 1075347 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:04PM (#19628253)
    Yeah, and how do you move around large blocks of text or add new paragraphs in between already existing text? Unless you want to rub holes in your paper while spending ten minutes erasing what you've already written (and then having to write it down again later), it's not feasible. It's far more efficient to type than it is to write.
  • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:09PM (#19628293)
    I could not disagree more.

    There were 2 types of classes in college. Those that handed us out notes and went through a slide show and had us fill in some blanks and those that handed out nothing and wrote on the blackboard.

    Guess which one I retained more information from? I've seen that people retain more information if they write it down than if they just see it.

    There is an Excellent easy way to back up data on the blackboard, it's called notes. Some classes I didn't even have a notebook. Prior to the class I'd grab some sheets out of the recycle bin and write on the back side.

    There's a very easy way to apply corrections, it's called crossing it out and rewriting it. You even retain th original information so you can sometimes see a progression of thought.

    Notebooks, on sale, cost $.79 a piece.
  • Re:Not surprising (Score:1, Insightful)

    by slarrg ( 931336 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @12:53PM (#19628527)

    There is no easy way to apply corrections to pen and paper. And a blackboard is not able to retain information.
    It's called a strike-through or if you're really ambitious you can use the scribble technique. You can also quickly add diagrams and illustrations to make the text more clear.

    There are no easy ways to back up the data or duplicate it (of course xeroxing is an option for paper, but not for blackboards).
    Because the whole point of education is to put the information in the students head not in printed form or a file somewhere. An effective teaching method forces the students to write the information in notes which is an effective method of improving recall.

    A smartboard/interactive white/blackboard has replaced the ancient black/white board.
    In business meetings where documentation is more important than education but in schools this is simply not the case.

    Even a tablet PC and beamer is more effective. Teachers can sit behind desk and use the tablet to show stuff on a larger surface using the beamer.
    Thus ensuring that the teacher stick to a predefined set of information as defined by their slides. It pretty much ensures that the teacher will not adapt the lesson to a particular group of students which may already understand some concepts or need more granularity in another area.
  • Re:Not surprising (Score:4, Insightful)

    by slarrg ( 931336 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @01:02PM (#19628567)
    I think you're misunderstanding the point of school. It's not to get information from your head to a report. Instead the point is to get the information from an authority into the head of the student. The papers and reports the students create are immediately garbage once the lesson has been taught they're an exercise to help the student remember. Seriously, who thinks the writing of students is of any value other than a teaching tool for the student (or maybe refrigerator wallpaper for a proud parent?)
  • Re:Not surprising (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @01:20PM (#19628667) Homepage Journal
    Please. Your take a closure of a single charter school and turn it into a simple-minded condemnation of technology in education. Is there my indication that High Tech Bayshore did a bad job? Oh the contrary, all their grads are going on to college. And the same organization is operating many other successful "High Tech"' charters. This particular charter just didn't work out, as many new charters do.

    Idiots like you keep shouting "Technology is not a educational panacea!" Dude, everybody knows that. But it's met irrelevant either. It's an important part of 21st century life. Every college track student needs to graduate knowing how to do online research, how to use scientific software, how to read well content critically, and a lot more. Besides, anything that gets students motivated and engaged is a positive thing -- and tech is pretty good at that.

    For some reason, educational debates always end up being about extremes. High tech versus low tech. Phonics versus "whole word" reading. Creativity versus drill. In the real world, learning is complicated, and every student is different. So spare us the Great Pronouncements.
  • Re:Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gilesjuk ( 604902 ) <giles.jones@NoSpAM.zen.co.uk> on Sunday June 24, 2007 @01:26PM (#19628703)
    No wonder standards are slipping in education, especially science and maths.

    A blackboard/whiteboard doesn't go wrong and it relies upon having a good tutor who knows what they are talking about. They can't just flick through a load of slides, they have to interact with the class.

    People designed planes, nuclear bombs and all sorts of engineering/science marvels without computers. Computers are useful but not essential.
  • Re:Not surprising (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wellington Grey ( 942717 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @01:27PM (#19628713) Homepage Journal

    When we have strong AI teachers will be outdated because they won't be able to give students the one-on-one time the computer can.

    When we have strong AI a hell of a lot more than just the teaching industry will be outdated. But until the singularity comes, we still have some issues to resolve.

    -Grey [wellingtongrey.net]
  • Re:Not surprising (Score:3, Insightful)

    by misleb ( 129952 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @01:44PM (#19628823)

    There is value in using computers for education in K-12. Software can quiz students and adapt to their mistakes to help them learn actively.

    Ooo, wow, computers can "quiz" kids. Amazing! Now all our problems are solved! Oh wait, someone has to teach them the stuff they're being quized about in the first place... which is like 95% of the job.

    When we have strong AI teachers will be outdated because they won't be able to give students the one-on-one time the computer can.

    Oh right, as if schools/teachers weren't rigid and robotic enough as it is. "Strong AI?" Give me a break. You don't have any ideas what "Strong AI" might actually be like, much less whether it not it coudl be an effective a a human teacher in the long run. You're so disconnected from reality that it is just sad. Is this what computers has taught YOU? To be disconnected from reality?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 24, 2007 @01:45PM (#19628827)

    Warning: Gross Generalizations Ahead

    Ah yes, the measure of a successful school -- sending all its students off to college.

    Except that 'everyone' goes to college, now. Nobody holds a job until they're 24. Kids don't know how to work. Differentiating yourself requires even -more- education. Colleges begin to look more like trade schools.

    As a software company, we don't hire based on education. We hire based on skill and experience. If you don't work until you're 24, you don't have any experience -- and no, college internships aren't a reasonable replacement for work experience. If the choice is between a post-college applicant with no experience, and a no-college appliant with 4 years of work experience, which do you think we're going to choose? Of course, this doesn't apply to every field -- doctors and lawyers aren't getting out of school any time soon

    Kids need to work, not spend years 0-24 coddled by parents and a mediocre educational system dedicated to pumping out collegiate clones with no connection to the real world.

  • Re:Not surprising (Score:3, Insightful)

    by servognome ( 738846 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @01:58PM (#19628905)

    I'm looking at you social studies/history teachers!
    Yes, because bad science and math teachers never fall back on memorization. It's not about the subject, it's about how the subject is taught.
  • Re:Not surprising (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @03:18PM (#19629375) Homepage
    There were and still are teachers who do the same thing, only they handed the students a library instead of the internet. It isn't about technology, it is about teaching.
  • Re:Not surprising (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @04:40PM (#19629785) Journal
    Its not the internet or Technology though, its just the bad teachers.

    Primary education needs to be directed because kids need to develop a sense of the pattern of learning and obtain some background in various subjects to serve as a frame of reference for future learning which they might do on their own.

    I had the luxory of getting a good deal of my early education before the public Internet and after that well lets face it is was not until the later 90's there was little content that anyone could sugest using in primary education out there.

    I did go to one of those wealthy districts that had stuff though. We had this huge media-center. Loads of books on just about anyhting. We even had a Computer (IBM PC-AT) with an exteral cdrom driver and decades of various publications (in plain text IIRC) on CDs stacked next to it.

    I also remember lots of teachers from grade one all the way to eight thinking that they could just march us all down there hand us some 3x5" cards tell us to research something and then expect us to learn from this.

    Most of this media was books and periodicals, with the exception of the IBM PC-AT. That is media that has existed for centuries. I think it was for the most part as big a waste as all this Internet time for students is today. Kids need good teachers with materials to cover what is directly part of the curiculum, and a small library for some on their own but ASSIGNED research projects.

    If a school is employing much of its budget to do anything other then hire the best most dedicated teachers in adequate numbers, and to provide them with the most basic facility and tools they require to do their jobs, that school is miss using its budget.
  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @05:57PM (#19630293) Homepage Journal
    Whats sad is that the "everyman" personality of Bush is just a facade, I'm not a Bush fan but the man does have some intelligence. He goes out of his way to look like an average Joe(verbal gaffes aside, some really smart people I know make a lot of gaffes to). He knows that acting stupid wins him more votes than acting intelligent. He even criticized Kerry for being a New England blue blooder despite the fact that Bush is also a New England blue blooder who adopted a fake Texas accent.....
  • by shalla ( 642644 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @06:22PM (#19630457)
    If society looks down on education we have one peculiar way of showing it. Nationally more then $530 billion was spent on K-12 public education in 2005. That seems pretty damned respectful to me.

    It's a strange relationship we have with education in the US. Most people want their kids to be educated. We're willing to throw money at the problem in the hopes that the next generation will all be able to do basic math. But at the same time, there are a large number of people who look down their noses at anyone who makes education their livelihood or who has an advanced degree.

    How does property tax support slant education in favor of the rich? Oh right, more money means more education.

    No, but it does tend to mean better facilities, higher teacher salaries, and educational resources that are replaced more quickly (so they are more up-to-date). Environment has a lot to do with a person's ability to learn. If you're in a nice, clean well financed school where things get fixed quickly and you feel vaguely comfortable, you learn better than if you're someplace where you have to dodge the plaster falling from the ceilings and worry about stuff being stolen from your locker which hasn't locked properly since you got it.

    Oh, and teachers are over-paid. They have neither the responsibilities or educational requirements of a civil engineer yet their average salaries are equal.

    Really? I certainly call being responsible for the daily care and education of thousands of children over a lifetime of teaching to be pretty responsible. Just because making one mathematical mistake won't result in the collapse of a structure and the possible death of hundreds of people does not mean they don't have responsibilities--they're just of a different, more subtle, sort. After all, they can screw up thousands of lives, too, just probably not as dramatically.

    As to the educational requirements to be a teacher, it depends on the state. Where I'm from, teachers have to be certified in their area, which requires a bachelor's degree, certain courses in education, two student teaching stints, and passing both a general knowledge teacher's test and one for any area you're going to teach in. That will get you the basics to be hired. After that, you're required to get your Masters within a few years (I can't recall if it's 3 or 5) in order to keep your job. That's to teach in an elementary or secondary high school.

    The problem, of course, is finding enough qualified teachers who are willing to teach in jobs in certain schools with less than stellar working conditions. That's where the state starts issuing temporary certifications to people who only meet some of the certifications because no one with the certifications is willing to go in to work part-time for crap pay and benefits and get harassed and threatened on a daily basis in a school that is falling down around them with text books that are ridiculously out of date. Strange, that.

    In some cases, I consider teacher pay to be hazardous duty pay. And no, I'm not a teacher. I have some friends who are, though, and seeing the hours they work and the paperwork requirements and the amount of school supplies they finance from their own salaries, I don't think I could ever call them overpaid. And they work in "nice" schools.

    That said... I agree with some of your post. Education will only be successful when the students, the parents, and the teachers all consider it a priority and when each takes responsibility for his or her own part in it. Right now, schools and teachers are having to babysit and raise children and teach them basic life skills that should be taught by a parent, and the concept of personal responsibility for one's actions got lost somewhere along the way. I don't want our schools teaching character education. I want that taught at home (silly, idealistic me). I want our schools to be able to focus on the academics.
  • by TrinSF ( 183901 ) on Sunday June 24, 2007 @10:56PM (#19631857)
    So, here's the deal. Two charter schools start in pretty much the same area, and draw from much of the same student base. One succeeds, and the other fails miserably. To me, that says -- among other things -- that the problem with HTHB wasn't "charter schools don't work", but rather that their *particular* implementation of a specific charter model didn't work. And as someone with experience *at that school*, I can tell you the problem was never the charter school model, but largely the administration.
  • Re:Not surprising (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Monday June 25, 2007 @12:01AM (#19632225)
    When we have strong AI teachers will be outdated because they won't be able to give students the one-on-one time the computer can.

    When we have strong AI, the students will be outdated too.

Mathemeticians stand on each other's shoulders while computer scientists stand on each other's toes. -- Richard Hamming