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Microsoft's High School Opens in PA

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the i'll-admit-it-i'm-jealous dept.

601

Joopndufus writes to mention a CNN article about a Microsoft-planned high school, newly opened in the Philadelphia area. Funded entirely by that city's school system, Microsoft offered its management skills and personnel to design every aspect of the high-tech setting. From the article: "After three years of planning, the Microsoft Corp.-designed 'School of the Future' opened its doors Thursday, a gleaming white modern facility looking out of place amid rows of ramshackle homes in a working-class West Philadelphia neighborhood. The school is being touted as unlike any in the world, with not only a high-tech building -- students have digital lockers and teachers use interactive 'smart boards' -- but also a learning process modeled on Microsoft's management techniques."

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More information (5, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065653)

Staff at the school were happy with how the opening day went, the pupils were welcomed in by a Brian Eno classic on the tannoy system.
This informed them that the tannoy system was working and it was now safe to enter the building.

However, once the day got underway things quickly went downhill in the English letter writing class.

"Dear aunt, let's set so double the killer delete select all,"

Meanwhile the gymnasium had to be rebooted twice after some children overloaded the basketball hoops.
Several pupils were stuck in the changing rooms for a few hours until the scandisk procedure managed to locate all the fragments of the key to unlock the door.

The music class was interrupted because someone brought in an illegal sample of a track in mp3 format and forgot to include a verification document from the parents of the original composer signed in blood.

On top of all these problems, the school is hunting for the person responsible for posting "goatse" on every single whiteboard, this shocking image appeared at 14:21 and remained on screen for 15 minutes whilst technicians located and removed it.

Re:More information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16065803)

>On top of all these problems, the school is hunting for the person responsible for posting "goatse" on every single whiteboard, this shocking image appeared at 14:21 and remained on screen for 15 minutes whilst technicians located and removed it.

Hey, if Apple built a school the clocks would always be 4:20.

Re:More information (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065805)

Don't forget the regular chair throwing competitions. After all, chair throwing is a key competence if you want to make it into the upper management at Microsoft.

Interesting 'idea' (2, Interesting)

MECC (8478) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065659)

"but also a learning process modeled on Microsoft's management techniques"

Does that mean that students only get help on the first Tuesday of each month?

Does anyone else see a problem with modeling a school after a management style better at spin than substance? Or with MS managers telling teachers how to do their jobs? I wonder if the lockers will have DRM built-in? The sheer magnitude of bullsh*t this promises is nearly limitless, based just the amazing lack of common sense found in the idea. Its like modeling a operating room after a CPA office. They may as well model it after circus clowns, for all the similarity the two have.

Why not just give money to the school system? That way if things go south, MS wouldn't bear part of the blame. This way they do. I wonder if that little bit of management wisdom will find its way into the classroom along with heavy-handed DRM.

Seriously, MS really needs to replace Larry, Curly, and Moe.


Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has famously called high schools "obsolete"

This from the guy who also said nobody will ever need more than 640k of memory.

"-- and mental acuity is especially critical to Microsoft"

From the company that only thinks, if you can call it that, in term of covering up old problems with new problems - fix is a four letter word at MS. They just want the opportunity to shape impressionable minds in their mold. I wonder how free speech will size up at "MS High".

Worst of all, MS conned the PA school system into paying for their little experiment. They could have at least come up with part of the cost, as a show of good faith. I guess they'll kids how to be good con artists.

"The high school will use an "education competency wheel," patterned after a set of desirable traits Microsoft encourages among its employees. Officials, teachers and students are to be trained in dozens of skills, including organizing and planning, negotiating, dealing with ambiguity and managing relationships."

So, they'll graduate a bunch of MS employees. Will the graduation speeched extoll how great it is to work for Microsoft?

What are *you* doing? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16065722)

Seriously. MS is trying to work in the ideas that made one of the largest most successful companies in the history of business. Sounds like there may be some carryover since making a good company is all about maintaining smart, happy employees. What have you done for education lately, besides complained about it? I applaud their effort, in the face of government and other big orgs who see 'business as usual' a fine mantra as our education system goes straight down the crapper.

Re:What are *you* doing? (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065785)

Insightful. Like the workplace, schools spending a large amount of resources trying to make students happy would help with alot of the other problems they're having.

Re:What are *you* doing? (5, Insightful)

MECC (8478) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065816)

"Seriously. MS is trying to work in the ideas that made one of the largest most successful companies in the history of business"

As in steal ideas from others, lie to federal judges, violate federal laws, and spin faster than a top?

"and other big orgs" Of course, MS isn't a "big org", and knows so much more about education than, say, educators. There are people out there who do turn around schools, and they do it by addressing the fundamental problems, not throwing technology at the situation as some kind of utopian panacea.

"What have you done for education lately"

One doesn't need to be a sailor to know that a ships float better than stones.

Really, from the article, it looks like MS just wants to train future MS employees. And have somebody else pay for it. And then not hire them.

Re:Interesting 'idea' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16065733)

This isn't really a troll. He's quite right.

Re:Interesting 'idea' (5, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065794)

Why not just give money to the school system?

Because that isn't the answer. The current school systems are already being pumped cash, but still show horrible results. Especially when compared to private schools. What Microsoft is doing is not a bad idea. I just cringe at the idea of applying "Microsoft Management Procedures" as a panacea to all the school's problems. Most likely, all that technology will just mean that the students do just as badly, but in a high tech environment! :-/

Of course, the problem really stems from poor elementry education. Students are rarely taught a solid foundation that they can grasp, and concepts like personal responsibility, individual talent, and academic achievement are wiped away as unimportant. Just so long as nobody feels they're special and nobody feels that they're not normal, then who cares if the academic bar is going lower and lower?

Unfortunately, I find it doubtful that things will change as long as Political Correctness rules our schools and parents see elementary as nothing more than free day care.

Re:Interesting 'idea' (5, Informative)

jd142 (129673) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065951)

The current school systems are already being pumped cash, but still show horrible results. Especially when compared to private schools.

That simply isn't true. The report came out a couple of months ago from a government study that privately run charter school students scored lower than public school students. The report didn't get a lot of press for obvious reasons. Here's the first google news link I found:

http://www.pww.org/article/articleview/9765/1/338/ [pww.org]

Re:Interesting 'idea' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16065806)

Does anyone else see a problem with modeling a school after a management style better at spin than substance? Or with MS managers telling teachers how to do their jobs? I wonder if the lockers will have DRM built-in? The sheer magnitude of bullsh*t this promises is nearly limitless, based just the amazing lack of common sense found in the idea. Its like modeling a operating room after a CPA office. They may as well model it after circus clowns, for all the similarity the two have.


Whadda ya mean? That's just how Philly's city government works! Besides, most of the Philly school system is Mac-based.

Crash Course? (5, Funny)

ruiner13 (527499) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065663)

Do they offer crash courses? Do all the windows have blue screens? Does every student get a clippy to help with their homework?

Ok, i'm done.

Forgot One (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16065698)

You forgot Chair Throwing 101.

It replaced their Communications courses.

Re:Crash Course? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16065837)

Ok, i'm done.

Thakn god. Now only about 245 smartasses are left to make "teh funnay" comments. Sigh. This will be a hard day. I almost feel tempted to do some work.

Take the High Road (1)

devoss (717340) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065668)

"but also a learning process modeled on Microsoft's management techniques..." too. many. jokes.

Re:Take the High Road (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16065850)

"but also a learning process modeled on Microsoft's management techniques..." too. many. jokes.

I like the one about Microsoft being the most successful software company in the world.

Re:Take the High Road (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16065877)

Allow me: during discussions, students may throw their chairs.

Who wants to bet... (5, Insightful)

isecore (132059) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065669)

that open-source is banned in that school?

"Say, that's a nice school we helped build... wouldn't want any open-source in there, that would mean bad things, and we don't want bad things to happen, right?"

Re:Who wants to bet... (1)

rubicon7 (51782) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065763)

I was just getting ready to say something to this effect...

And just when I thought that we'd gotten over the whole "get 'em hooked on M$ products in college" idea, here we go and start them in high school.

<sigh>

Re:Who wants to bet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16065864)

Yea, I know. It's so horrible that these schools are preparing children to use the platforms and software suites that power nearly all business in the United States. That evil, evil Microsoft.

What a crock, huh? Teaching to practical things. What is this world even coming to? We should be using a lot more software and operating system platforms that 95% of the people who go through public school are never going to have any use for in their entire life and will find unncessarily confusing the first time anything goes wrong (NOTE FOR OS ZEALOT: being able to "fix" the machine with just a reboot is a BENEFIT to a home user, not a problem). That makes perfect sense.

Oh, and just for kicks: I've never seen a decently sized college that didn't teach most of its upper level programming classes and system administration on UNIX machines.

In other news, I think that everyone should have to learn how to drive a car using a stick with no synchro gears. I mean, sure, the only two types of vehicles that don't have synchros are high performance race cars and semi trucks, neither of which most people will ever actually drive, but this thread is all about doing things in an impractical, complicated manner just because we can, right!?

Maybe I've watched too many B movies (1)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065674)

also a learning process modeled on Microsoft's management techniques

Maybe I've watched too many B movies, but I've got a bad feeling about this. I can't quite put my finger on it...something about creating monsters maybe?

--MarkusQ

Re:Maybe I've watched too many B movies (1)

digidave (259925) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065775)

It just means it will take students five years to pass each grade and most of the stuff they were supposed to learn will have been cut out of the ciriculum.

Today in the news (1)

JFlex (763276) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065677)

"Today in the news, a new school in West Philly has burnt to the ground without warning due to a flaw in the new high-tech fire alarm system that apparently blue screened before it could sound the alarms."

Re:Today in the news (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065727)

"Hardware suppliers Dell have been investigating the problem and today announced a recall of the entire science lab."

Fresh Prince of Microsoft (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16065679)

Now this is the story all about how
My life got flipped, turned upside down
And I'd like to take a minute just sit right there
I'll tell you how I became a student owned by Microsoft
In West Philadelphia born and raised
On Slashdot where I spent most of my days
Chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool
And writing some code outside of the school
When a couple of guys said "we're up in no good"
Started making trouble in my neighbourhood
I hacked into one little computer and my mom got scared
And said "you're going to that new Microsoft High School"

Re:Fresh Prince of Microsoft (4, Funny)

xdjyoshx (804247) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065934)

I whistled for a segway and when it came near
the sticker said "pwned" and the dude had flakes in his hair
if anything i could tell that he was ready to throw a chair
but i thought nahhhh forget it wait
YO HOLEMS YOU SMELL WAREZ?

I
pulled
up to my laptop around 7 or 8
and yelled to the teacher
yo melinda page ya later
i looked at my kingdom
it was all white and bare
and there it was known as MS High School despair.

Sorry i had to finish the song.. geez

vista (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16065695)

but also a learning process modeled on Microsoft's management techniques
I'm not trying to be a troll but with the way Vista has been handled, hasn't MS shown that their management techniques aren't exactly very good?

Vista - class of... (1)

nairb774 (728193) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065827)

Thought you were the class of 2010 - well it looked like you neede more help so we are going to make you the class of 2015. Rolls off the toung better doesen't it?

Re:vista (4, Insightful)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065948)

I'm not trying to be a troll but with the way Vista has been handled, hasn't MS shown that their management techniques aren't exactly very good?

Exactly what I was thinking. When I read "[Microsoft] didn't pay the $63 million cost -- that was borne by the Philadelphia School District -- but shared its personnel and management skills" in TFA, my reaction was: it would have been better for them to just donate a big stack of cash and keep their 'skills' to themselves. Money is something Microsoft have more than enough of; 'management skills' - doubtful at best.

And even if they did have 'management skills' - they have no idea of how to teach those skills to children. All their experience is with hiring already-skilled adults.

Had I heard "Microsoft donates $1 billion to the Philadelpha public school system", I would have applauded Microsoft for their generosity (despite everything I have against them). But this project just sounds like a bad idea to me.

What the ... (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065705)

The company didn't pay the $63 million cost -- that was borne by the Philadelphia School District -- but shared its personnel and management skills. About 170 teens, nearly all black and mainly low-income, were chosen by lottery to make up the freshman class. The school eventually plans to enroll up to 750 students.

$63 million
Supporting 170 students
$370,588 per student right now.
At the 162,000-square-foot high school, which sits on nearly eight acres, the day starts at 9:15 a.m. and ends at 4:19 p.m., simulating the typical work day. Officials said studies show students do better when they start later in the day.

That's a lot of resources thrown at very few students.

Re:What the ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16065767)

Um, that is a one time cost for the most part, not the operating cost (atleast it doesn't say so). So it is hardly fair to just divide it by the total number of students...

Re:What the ... (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065897)

. . .that is a one time cost for the most part, not the operating cost. . .

How long does High School last?

Four years.

How long does a standard eternity last?

Three years.

They'll be scraping nearly the whole thing before these incoming students graduate, and need $150 mil to update.

Plus the decorating costs when they finally figure out that all that "clean" and "modern" white shit is driving people fucking nuts.

And it it just me, or is the Student --> Learner; Teacher --> Educator nomenclature shift about the most pointless that anyone has come up with yet?

"No sir, those aren't my "cat" and "dog." They're my "feline" and "canine." Why yes, I am illiterate, why do you ask? Yeah, I'm an "educator," so what? The answers are all in the computer anyway, why do I have to know anything?"

KFG

Re:What the ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16065783)

I think by 'resources' you meant 'chairs'

Re:What the ... (0)

datafr0g (831498) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065819)

That's a lot of resources thrown at very few students.

You've got it the wrong way round.

In Microsoft School, students throw resources!

Re:What the ... (1)

kaiser423 (828989) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065835)

You do realize that they don't build a new school for every class of students, right?

It's a lot of money, but the building will probably be used for the next 50 years or so.

Re:What the ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16065895)

If they invested the $370K they could see $35K a year off it. That is the opportunity cost per student for each year. You could give them that money instead and let them be couch potatoes.

Re:What the ... (2, Insightful)

rayde (738949) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065866)

consider though, that the numbers will look a lot different when it's 750 students a year, and it's been running for 20 years. sure it's a lot up front, but school districts don't build new buildings every day

Re:What the ... (4, Informative)

jblake (162981) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065894)

It's not $63 million spent on only 170 students. $63 million was spent as a capital investment into building the school, infrastructure, and other things which can be amortize over the usable lifetime of the school. I know of high schools that have been around for at least 50 years, although of course there are occasional renovations. Assuming the school lasts for 50 years, you have to divide by the total number of students that attend the school. You would have to calculate the capital investment into the school by $63 million / (170 new students per year * 50 years) = $7,411.76 per student cost to build the school. If the school lasts longer or increases the number of new students per year, the per student cost decreases.

There is also the yearly cost of teaching and maintaining the grounds, but that is a separate statistic.

Re:What the ... (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065922)

What are the per year costs? and likly you will need to spend a lot to keep up with new tech and that is not cheap.

Re:What the ... (2, Interesting)

OneSeventeen (867010) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065903)

That's a lot of resources thrown at very few students.

You forgot a word... needlessly...

That's a lot of resources nedlessly thrown at very few students.

I wonder what it would be like if that money went towards regular supplies, like paper and pencil for all the other schools in the district, how far that amount of money would go?

I also wonder if before this happened they analyzed Microsoft's Management skills, perhaps with a case study on Vista?

This looks like a fun idea but it sounds like one giant Microsoft Advertisement to me, and that is only going to stifle the kids' innovation.

With all the Microsoft products I saw around me when I was a kid, I seriously thought you had to work for microsoft to become a programmer. I hate to say it, but this is only going to grow our kids' technology addiction, which I for one do not find healthy. As an IT manager, former programmer, and avid Geekon [geekons.com] at my church, I want my kids to read books with paper, ink, and binding. (think about the librarians! won't someone please think about the librarians?!)

All in all, it looks cool, and it is nice of Microsoft to offer their management skills and personnell (that does cost them money), but I find it all kind of pointless when I bet the same result could have been achieved at a quarter of the cost if they got MIT or UC Berkley involved instead. (and open source developing universities actually have a more positive track record on quality and punctuality that Microsoft doesn't.)

That would be 'school of the Past' (1)

toby (759) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065907)

Sadly I doubt that the technologies that are actually be relevant to these kids' future -- Open Source, ODF, OS X, Solaris, BSD, basically anything not-MS -- will be represented in their computer labs...

But it's consistent with MS' time honoured motto: "Spreading Ignorance and Low Expectations."

Re:What the ... (1)

An Onerous Coward (222037) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065919)

To be fair, a lot of that cost would have to be experimental, custom technology whose marginal cost would be relatively low if it's successful enough to use in other schools. When you think of it as a school, then yes it's an obviously irresponsible waste of resources. When you think of it as a laboratory for new educational techniques...

Also, it looks really bad to attribute the entire cost of long-term infrastructure (the cost of the land and building, for example) to the first crop of students.

Finally, the school is expected to ultimately serve about four times as many students as it does now. While the whole endeavor is probably a waste of money by administrators hypnotized by shiny things, it's not correct to imply that each student is getting fifty odd times her normal allotment of resources.

Re:What the ... (1)

brenddie (897982) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065921)

the day starts at 9:15 a.m. and ends at 4:19 p.m., simulating the typical work day
if you want to simulate the typical work day try 9:45am - 8:30pm . That will give them a taste.

Re:What the ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16065927)

Interesting choice of words, since Chair Throwing is supposed to be the main activity in Gym class.

Cool (1, Insightful)

Klaidas (981300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065719)

I think this will have loots of trolling...
Anyway, hwo much of you really wouldn't want to study at the school which is run by the world's biggest (I think it is) software company, which's products are used on 95% of computers?

I would not. (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065772)

Anyway, hwo much of you really wouldn't want to study at the school which is run by the world's biggest (I think it is) software company, which's products are used on 95% of computers?

Read the article. The library does not have books. It's all "digital".

That right there would be enough for me to avoid it.

Microsoft is great at MARKETING their products. They do not write great software.

And there is nothing to indicate that they know ANYTHING about education.

Can anyone say "Monkey Dance" (1)

havockla (751402) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065729)

"......also a learning process modeled on Microsoft's management techniques." Now thats some good learnin!!

Jennifer Government .... (4, Interesting)

LoP_XTC (312463) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065738)

Anyone here ever read the book "Jennifer Government". Basically in the near future everything is corporate owned and your last name reflects the company you work for. So like John Nike works for Nike ...

Anyway in the book they describe how the main female characters daughter attends school owned and run by Mattel ... and reading a story like this makes you wonder just how close we are getting to a world that more closely resembles the one in that novel. All this needs is for the kids to be walking around with the last name Microsoft and there you go.

Aaron

Re:Jennifer Government .... (4, Funny)

ruiner13 (527499) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065896)

Isn't that how a lot of us got our surnames anyway? "smith" comes from a family of blacksmiths, "baker" comes from a baker, etc. What was once will be again, I guess. I'm not saying I think it would be a good thing, but it isn't new.

As a side note, "Bush" I believe comes from the long history of stupid twats in his family.

Re:Jennifer Government .... (1)

LoP_XTC (312463) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065931)

Its one thing to be named for the work you do, at least then you can take pride in your name. Being named after a company on the other hand ... Lets just say that an accountant named "Karen Kotex" wouldnt be the best description of what she does for a living.

Aaron

Re:Jennifer Government .... (1)

PunkPig (738544) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065898)

Good book. "The Company", also by Max Barry, may also apply well to this school.

Re:Jennifer Government .... (1)

FridayBob (619244) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065943)

Well, doing away with the so-called "free and fair" elections in the United States and just letting the big corporations decide who becomes the next president wouldn't really be changing a lot either. Hey, I'm already used to the idea!

We have a lot of this in the UK already... (4, Informative)

Xest (935314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065740)

I work in tech. support for schools and certainly our catchment area (171 schools) now successfully has an interactive smart board in every single class room. Also thanks to a goverment initiative, the laptops for teachers scheme means all teachers have a laptop which they can create lesson plans and produce teaching content on and then move around class rooms with to hook up to the smart boards. We also have an average ratio of 1 computer for every 4 students across all our schools too.

Whilst not many schools here have digital lockers (lockers aren't popular here full stop like in the US) we do have things like card systems for pupils to register entry into the toilets with (kinda big brotherish I know, I'm against it but the technology is cool) so there is a paper trail if someone vandalises or smokes in the toilets. The cards double up as well as being able to provide dinner ladies with information on what kids don't need to pay for school meals and such due to their family being poor and on benefits, some schools the few that do have digital lockers - the swipe cards also work for these.

Certainly schools here in the UK have come a long way in the 8 years since I left, they were only just replacing blackboards with those nice whipeable whiteboards when I left!

As for a learning process modelled on Microsoft's management techniques, I've also seen evidence of this in the schools for kids with behavioural problems who are there because they've been expelled multiple times from elsewhere, the main evidence being that they've often threatened to "fucking kill me" and thrown chairs about the room :p

Re:We have a lot of this in the UK already... (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065834)

we do have things like card systems for pupils to register entry into the toilets with Yeah, I bet that works just as well as the doors for an ATM.

I get it.. (1)

bigattichouse (527527) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065742)

The joke is that out back they have a blackboard and chalk and some actual books that they'll use when the whole system crashes. See, its all just a return to the 3-R's.

And this gives highschool nerds ultimate power, to hack - disable and otherwise compromise other people's lockers. At least with my locker (back in the day) there were a limit number of very physical actions you had to take to "crack" or denial-of-service a lock. This just adds "oops, the machine just took a crap" to a longer list.

In other news, kids don't care - they just want to interact with their peers. - preferably not at school.

Re:I get it.. (1)

Kamineko (851857) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065820)

The old style DoS was going at the locker with a pneumatic drill until it was too damaged to open.

Those were the days.

Re:I get it.. (1)

sydb (176695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065940)

I believe superglue in the keyhole is more discreet and just as, maybe more, effective.

Uh-huh...? (1)

tygerstripes (832644) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065744)

Interactive whiteboards? Wow. Registration cards? Uh-huh.

I work for a small Local Education Authority where all secondary schools use interactive whiteboards, as do the majority of primaries.

There is a school in London that uses fingerprint-scanners at the classroom entrances instead of registers (a little more reliable than a perfectly portable ID card? I dunno.), and there are numerous examples of the effective use of decent technology to impact attendance and learning. Automatic texts to parents' mobiles or emails to their work accounts when the kids don't show in the morning is a pretty effective one that's gaining momentum.

And no books, just laptops? Look, I don't know about you, but that sounds like a really bad idea to me. I've heard of pilot "one laptop per child" schemes that came unstuck within weeks, because there is nothing that can prevent an army of bored, intelligent kids from completely hijacking and abusing any technology you care to give them. Now that may not necessarily be a bad thing in more more libertarian concepts of learning, but I really don't think it helps the class teachers one bit.

So what's really unique about this school? Apart from that it's a white building in Philly, I mean. It's the management system. Which comes from Microsoft. I don't need to add anything M$-bashy here, surely...

Prestigious this may be, but what a fucking awful idea of how to run a school! The use of technology in education is often a good thing, sometimes indifferent, occasionally bad, but certainly not new.

The only actual news here is that it's been designed by M$, and for that reason, I fear for the future of Philadelphia more than I ever did.

Eek! (1)

dduardo (592868) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065746)

"...a learning process modeled on Microsoft's management techniques."

If Microsoft's management techniques is good enough for Vista, it's good enough for our children.

Clippy (1)

Speare (84249) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065751)

It looks like you're trying to record a video for yout^H^H^H^H MSN Funny Videos. Do you want to:

  • sneak out the window while the ancient teacher rambles on,
  • run up to the distracted teacher and pull down his pants,
  • take a glam shot of your dweeby attention-starved friends,
  • light a firecracker in the class dork's desk,
  • maintain a small cute housepet in your locker to attract babes?

That's really the MS way of doing things (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065762)

Of course you can design everything to be the most expensive way when you don't have to pay it yourself. And I bet MS was the only one selling most of those wonderful shiny techs.

It it wasn't so sad for the taxpayers, it would be funny that this school will be outdated before the first students graduate.

Re:That's really the MS way of doing things (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065869)

It it wasn't so sad for the taxpayers, it would be funny that this school will be outdated before the first students graduate.

Well, then maybe the students will learn to associate "Microsoft" with "outdated tech" ...

Say What You Want... (4, Interesting)

Ctrl+Alt+De1337 (837964) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065773)

Say what you want about Microsoft and its management techniques (and plenty of jokes are already around) but I think this is a good thing. Whatever about Microsoft, they probably have better management techniques than most American school systems, and Bill Gates was right about schools essentially being obsolete.

There needs to be new ideas and new blood running things in the schools. Most administrators are former teachers, and just like good programmers don't always make good IT managers, so do good teachers have a spotty history at becoming good administrators. If this ushers in an era of trying new things to improve schools, then I'm all for it. Microsoft has the name recognition and technology chops to get its foot in the door, but other companies should give it a go. Imagine a GE-led school using Jack Welch's management techniques...

Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16065778)

"looking out of place amid rows of ramshackle homes in a working-class West Philadelphia neighborhood"

Wonder how long before they take a nice gift and graffiti and trash it into ruins. That's what tends to happen when you do any favors for people.

Microsoft High School Photo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16065779)

I found a picture taken from inside the school:

Microsoft High School [brianblog.com]

It looks vaguely familiar.

Graduation (5, Funny)

k4_pacific (736911) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065781)

A: So you go to Microsoft High School?

B: Yup.

A: When do you graduate?

B: I was supposed to graduate in 2002. But I got held back. Then it was supposed to be 2003, 2005, then 2006.

A: Yikes! Are you that dumb?

B: No, they just tried to teach me too much unnecessary stuff. They kept cutting classes out of the requirements hoping I'd make it.

A: So, when are you graduating?

B: Right now, they're saying 2007, but many think it'll be 2008 or later.

No Certs???? (1)

PunkPig (738544) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065786)

I was expecting there to be some MS Certification requirements before they graduate as well.

Perhaps by School of the Future 3.0 they'll have them.

Microsoft Management Techniques? (5, Funny)

rlp (11898) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065796)

So if you try to transfer to another school does the vice-principal throw a chair at you?

How Long to Graduate (1)

Deinhard (644412) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065802)

"...a learning process modeled on Microsoft's management techniques."

Based on these techniques, when can student's expect to graduate? Do they have to go through Beta year as a junior, then become a Release Candidate in their senior year?

The problem is, with Microsoft's track record, they'll have seniors that stick around for years. What happens when MS decides to change its techniques? "Sorry...you have to go back through four years of school to remain compatible."

Can you imagine one of these based on Linux? (1)

repruhsent (672799) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065808)

1. Health class would be replaced by a programming class, since Linux users dwell in the basement and have no need for exercise of hygiene.
2. Sex-ed? You're kidding, right? Linux users don't have sex; they recompile their kernel instead.
3. Phys-ed? Another joke, right? Replaced with another programming class.
4. The school's entrance policy would only permit autistic students or those with asperger's syndrome.
5. Lunch would be Doritos and Jolt cola.
6. No girls allowed. Period.
7. The school's IT policy would never take hold, since the autistic IT staff would be constantly bickering over how to best set the servers up, with System V init scripts or that other kind of init script.
8. Daily "pride marches" for those who only use free (as in freedom) software. Here they can parade around in knee-high socks and quote poetry written in Welsh or some shit.
9. Classes on how socialism is better than capitalism, even though everyone knows that without capitalism the computer wouldn't exist, thus preventing this social subculture (Linux user, that is) from ever existing.
10. Classes on how to avoid shaving and taking showers, even when the itch from your beard and smell of your own stench begins to convince you to do so.

I'm sure there are others, but I can't think of them now.

a school is made of people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16065810)

not computers, not lockers, not doors, walls, buildings, or anything else.

crippled? (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065815)

Where's the Linux lab? :-)

Nothing like enforcing your monopoly like buying out the schools... or at least making them think you bought them out...

Tom

Let us raise more capitalists! (1)

Eagleartoo (849045) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065821)

Now before you mark me down give me Kudos for not posting AC

The only real problem I have with Windows and Microsoft is that they have made going to market with a product that is half broken an acceptable practice. If other hardcore capitalists could do this they would. I bet a lot of them are very jealous of MS. I understand wanting to make a profit, but isn't it more important to break through to new horizons whether in computing, or science, or mathematics.

My point is that if you have Microsoft managers teaching these kids at probably THE most important stage in their education, are they going to take the lead from their teachers and not expect anyone to hold them accountable for their work?

BUT then again ever an optimist, they did build this really cool school in a poorer district, so these kids might actually stay in school long enough to get an education.

HMmm... (1)

Azeron (797264) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065829)

Microsoft Management techniques.... does that mean its perfectly acceptable to hand in projects 6 years late (vista) with meeting none of the requirements and makeing no sense (Standards) and in the end just doing a poor copy of someone eles's work? (OS X)

Meanwhile, in Drew Elementary School (5, Interesting)

TexasDex (709519) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065830)

Meanwhile, students at Drew Elementary, deep in the low-income area of West Philly, don't even have keyboards and mice for the few old iMacs in the library because they can't afford them (I suspect NCLB is to blame for that). I am part of a student organization in Drexel University called Tech Serv and we are preparing to donate around 31 computers to the elementary school, some of them Pentium IIs but it's better than what they had, which was nothing. Most of the machines will be donated with edubuntu, because the school can't afford windows licenses; we're trying hard to find a few machines with windows stickers already on them for the engineering lab, which plans to use Mindstorms to teach kids basic robotics. And meanwhile that school gets $63 million in funding because Microsoft had a nifty idea.

Re:Meanwhile, in Drew Elementary School (1)

le0p (932717) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065930)

You should be used to it by now, this is Philly afterall. I wonder what kind of kickbacks the mayor and his staff are getting...

What's wrong with you "people" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16065840)

The first 20 something comments are pathetic trolls all trying to make the same joke. Utterly sad and pathetic.

I miss the days when you could come on Slashdot and read interesting commentary, instead of the nerdish attempts at lame humour you find today. Get a life, oh wait I forgot where I was for a second there.

Just when I thought the quality of education... (1)

Name Anonymous (850635) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065863)

Just when I thought the quality of education couldn't get any worse...
  1. School days interrupted by software bugs and BSODs.
  2. Course material still in beta so it's not complete.
  3. Courses will only work with microsoft certified textbooks.
  4. The lunchroom kitchen will only work with microsoft approved ingredients.
  5. On line gymnastics so the kids will wind up never getting exercise.
  6. School days will neither start on time nor end on time due to the bugs and BSODs.

Three main lines of education (1)

Centurix (249778) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065876)

Public, private and corporate schooling. The school uniform being freebie TechEd polo shirts.

Gates Foundation high schools (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065878)

One of the major initiatives of the Gates Foundation has been improving high schools in difficult regions. Their first attempt was to fund smaller schools, where it was thought students could manage better. This had not succeeded [businessweek.com] so they are trying other things now.

A good thing becoming bad in the hands of MS (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16065880)

High school must be reformed almost everywhere, so any change that involves better use of technology or different ways of teching (even for testing them) is IMO a good thing. The problems arise when this comes from only one company, incidentally the one that has good reasons to make people addicted to its products when they're still young. This will ensure choices dictated by corporate reasons, not better teaching.
I'd really love to see what their teachers will answer to the students who happen to have a full working Linux/BSD/Mac/Whatever-non-MS system at home and ask why they cannot see one in their school, or why they will be forced to use DRM plagued systems in their notebooks instead of something else that would read more file formats, has better quality public support and costs less.

costs (3, Interesting)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065883)

The $63 million cost could of been spent on more schools and teachers then just 1 high tech one. The mainly low-income teens are more like to have the laptops sold / stolen then people who are better off and that may even more likely at times of the year when it is dark at 4:19 p.m.

Also using smart boards and digital lockers seem like overkill for school and if there a hardware brake down the kids may have there stuff stuck in there lockers and the teacher may have a hard time teaching with out the smart boards.

Instead of a cafeteria, there's a food court with restaurant-style seating. How long is there lunch? Cafeteria style lets you have more people in there at the same time.

Also in the high school I was at the food cards did not work that well and the kids where getting doubled billed and the system was down from time to time making the cafeteria workers take the id number buy hand.

Students have scheduled appointments with teachers, typed into their online calendars, instead of being limited to structured times for classes. Their laptops carry software that assesses how quickly they're learning the lesson. If they get it, they'll dive deeper into the subject. If not, they get remedial help. I like the idea but how many teachers do you need to make that work and there are a lot of state mandated things that must be learned.

In addition, students at the school must apply to college to get a diploma. Sounds like a good idea but what do you with the people who can't pay for it?

This sounds like a good program but public education funds can be better spend on brining all schools up to a better level then just having one real good one.

Yet Another Fad? (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065887)

OK, so it opens to much fanfare. WHat about in a year, or two or five? Is this going to have legs or is it going to be abandoned? Who is going to measure the results, what methodology will they use to measure the results and where can we find the research.

Thand and only then will we know if it is just a marketing ploy or a serious attempt to improve education. And how successful it is.

Also, am I the only one that feels uneasy about using kids and their future as part of a large scale sociological, psychological and educational experiment? Is there an ethical problem here?

Just asking...

Curriculum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16065891)

Hello class my name is Mr Gates. Alright today we will learn about monopoly!

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

I want to go there! (3, Funny)

dghcasp (459766) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065905)

Microsoft management practices, eh?

Now, class, your assignment is due friday.

Of course, if it's not done by then, you can say the schedule slipped and take up to four years to complete it.

If you don't like your grade, submit a service pack for your assignment and I'll regrade it. You can do this as often as you want.

Footnotes are not important; if you plagerize something, just define it as your standard. Make sure to change one word so that your writing is different enough from the source.

And, of course, it's perfectly all right to buy someone else's assignment and then submit it.

stinks (1)

cool_arrow (881921) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065912)

Sounds like public funds are being used to help MS pedal their crap - not good. Just as fast food corp's should stay out of the public school lunch rooms, so should MS stay out of the publically funded schools.

Sigh. (1)

debrain (29228) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065916)

but also a learning process modeled on Microsoft's management techniques


Because a company with virtually no accountability and the most infamous monopoly in the world and has essentially unlimited revenue is the ideal model for a taxpayer-funded cash-strapped public school system. Exactly what qualities are they planning to transfer from Microsoft's management to the school. Let's see ... what qualities do we have, here?

* The complete lack of vision and focus on imitation instead of innovation? (Copying is preferred to original thought)
* Operating in the absolute absence of competence?
* Treating your customers like criminals?
* The dancing, shouting spokesperson who embarasses beyond recognition of the point?
* The pouting, nigh Asperger's founder who cries at CEO dinners when he doesn't get his way?
* Avoid any capitalistic urge to play by the rules, rather simply being rich enough to buy out, or drown out by imitation and unlawful anti-competitive integration, all competitors?
* Do illegal things, even get caught, just have enough political pull to get off the hook?

Which of these is supposed to make the school better, again? What sort of models are we trying to set? The idea of Microsoft having influence over school children makes me very sad.

At least someone is trying (3, Interesting)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065925)

Jesus Christ, there are a lot of sharpshooters in here. Everyone knows the US K-12 system, particularly in big cities, sucks goats through a straw. Philadelphia and MS are trying something new. Maybe it won't work, but at least they're trying to do something to fix the problem.

If I were a kid lucky enough to win that lottery, I'd be happy to have the opportunity to go to a one of a kind, modern school. I'd feel like someone actually gave a damn about my education. Why are so many urban schools so fucked up? Part of the problem is that the facilities are ancient, crumbling edifices left over from the 1800s. I'm not suggesting that every school in the country be razed and rebuilt, but it's no secret that the physical design of schools is a huge factor in the overall learning environment.

Bringing modern technology into schools isn't enough in itself, but I think it's worth trying. As for Microsoft's involvement, if you're badmouthing it, when is the last time you volunteered at a school?

Eh (1)

BooRolla (824295) | more than 7 years ago | (#16065938)

As much as it concerns me that people would consider MS development techniques a good way to teach classes, at least they're trying something new. I mean, could schools in America do any worse than they do now?
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