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School's Out Forever at SV High Tech High

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the money-can't-fix-everything dept.

Education 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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Hmm.. (5, Funny)

jessiej (1019654) | more than 7 years ago | (#19627823)

My guess is they weren't using free software?

Re:Hmm.. (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 7 years ago | (#19627909)

I'm guessing they didn't offer a very good class is raising venture capital. Or maybe they just didn't have Jolt Cola in the vending machines.

Re:Hmm.. (1)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 7 years ago | (#19629031)

Or maybe charter schools just don't work, how about that?

Hmm..Rose colored fans. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19628855)

My guess is that your OSS fanboyism is not based on an accurate view of the situation. Charter schools in general haven't done very well. Nice idea, bad execution.

too bad (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19627829)

But I knew they weren't serious when they hired P.J. Soles as gym teacher.

Insult? (2, Insightful)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#19627831)

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.

Re:Insult? (2, Insightful)

Wellington Grey (942717) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628105)

Adding insult?


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

-Grey [wellingtongrey.net]

Re:Insult? (2, Interesting)

cprael (215426) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628249)

Obviously you don't know the Sequoia Unified district. Once upon a time, I lived in their district - we moved out so I could get into a decent school. They haven't improved in the 26 years since... my wife and I just moved out-district 2 years ago, and with the exception of _one_ school, the rest of the district still sucks.

Which is quite amazing, given that they draw from a ton of very bright, motivated, and successful families. Portola Valley, Woodside, Atherton, Menlo Park, Redwood City... that's where they get their students. Many of the best and brightest won't have anythingg to do with the Sequoia district, though, because of their ongoing problems. Bad enough that it forced the south county folks to set up a charter HS (which, note, is mentioned in the article cited).

Re:Insult? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19629885)

> they draw from a ton of very bright, motivated, and successful families.

Not to mention affluent. Funding shouldn't even be a consideration with this district. It's just mismanaged at the core.

Not surprising (5, Insightful)

gweihir (88907) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Not surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19628045)

Incidentially some of the "worlds richest men" are directly responsible for a slow computer revolution.

Well, if you're so smart, let's see you do a fast computer revolution.

Re:Not surprising (5, Interesting)

Wellington Grey (942717) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628093)

Education is not about modern equipment. In fact modern equipment may seriously hinder education at times,


Agreed. I work as a teacher and for 99% of tasks, technology just gets in the way. I'm also horrified at the number of my fellow teachers who think the Internet is some magical panacea where they can just plop a class down in front of a computer, tell them 'research topic X' and the kids will actually learn something.

-Grey [wellingtongrey.net]

Re:Not surprising (1)

gravos (912628) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628657)

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. 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.

Re:Not surprising (2, Insightful)

Wellington Grey (942717) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628713)

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 (2, Insightful)

misleb (129952) | more than 7 years ago | (#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?

-matthew

Re:Not surprising (1)

Smight (1099639) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628741)

I'm also horrified at the number of my fellow teachers who think the Internet is some magical panacea where they can just plop a class down in front of a computer, tell them 'research topic X' and the kids will actually learn something.

 
I think for the teachers who equate memorization with education the internet is a panacea.
 
  I'm looking at you social studies/history teachers!

Re:Not surprising (2, Insightful)

servognome (738846) | more than 7 years ago | (#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 (1)

Smight (1099639) | more than 7 years ago | (#19629077)

oh they can be bad too. But I've never had a math or science class where the students just read out of the textbook in class and the homework assignment was to reread those chapters a couple times.

Re:Not surprising (1)

pjmburg (923138) | more than 7 years ago | (#19629737)

I have...

Re:Not surprising (2, Interesting)

jaelle (655155) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628849)

Plopping the kids down in front of computers did wonders for my kids. My son taught himself electronics engineering with it.

Of course, they were homeschooled...

Re:Not surprising (2, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 7 years ago | (#19629375)

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 (3, Interesting)

Wellington Grey (942717) | more than 7 years ago | (#19629495)

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.


Except that teachers are rewarded by brainless administrators for 'using ICT in their lessons' and they get no such reward for going to the library.

-Grey [wellingtongrey.net]

Re:Not surprising (3, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 7 years ago | (#19629785)

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.

Re:Not surprising (2, Interesting)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628141)

That may be the case for you. But pen and paper and blackboards hinder me.
There is no easy way to apply corrections to pen and paper. And a blackboard is not able to retain information.
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).
A smartboard/interactive white/blackboard has replaced the ancient black/white board.
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.
The only problem is that the technology is an expensive investment.

Education is not about modern or old equipment.

Re:Not surprising (1, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628195)

There is no easy way to apply corrections to pen and paper.
Are you serious?
You could:
A) cross out your mistake
B) use white out
C) write with erasable pens [howstuffworks.com]

Re:Not surprising (2, Insightful)

skaladis (1075347) | more than 7 years ago | (#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 (4, Insightful)

slarrg (931336) | more than 7 years ago | (#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 (2, Interesting)

fbjon (692006) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628759)

The solution is easy and very educational: learn to think about what you write, before you write it. Structure your writing, form the complete idea in your mind, avoid rambling down on paper. It's like the difference between structured programming and cowboy coding.

Re:Not surprising (2, Interesting)

niiler (716140) | more than 7 years ago | (#19629179)

While you are correct in your assertion that one should think before one writes, it seems that you are not familiar with SmartBoards. You use them *just like regular blackboards (including erasing)* only you can save the lecture/edit it for later. This allows you to post the lecture to the web, hand it out to students who missed class (for any number of reasons, and generally have a record of your lectures for the purposes of review and class planning for the future. Additionally they are more hygenic as there's no dust (from chalk) or alcohol smell (from dry erase). The former always keeps me sneezing and cold prone during the school year and the latter is just irritating.

Re:Not surprising (1)

DeadChobi (740395) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628769)

You could try planning for where you're going to put that paragraph while writing on the board, or using individual sheets of paper and rearranging them so that it works for you or any number of different things. Why not be creative with the materials you should have on hand? Also, the whole reason you double-space while writing is so that you can make huge corrections like inserting a paragraph somewhere. Back before paper was mass-produced people used to take each other's handwritten letters, write a reply between the lines, and return the letter. So take a page from history and write your insertion between the lines of the existing paragraph, then when you write a final draft you have everything you need already written.

And typing to record information versus writing to record information passes the information through different areas of the brain respectively. It's easier to retain information if you write it because of this. That's one of the reasons classrooms still emphasize taking handwritten notes, besides the obvious advantage that people can actually afford paper.

Re:Not surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19629767)

Yeah, and how do you move around large blocks of text or add new paragraphs in between already existing text?

Ever heard of scissors?

Re:Not surprising (1)

A_Non_Moose (413034) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628979)

There is no easy way to apply corrections to pen and paper.
Are you serious?
You could:
A) cross out your mistake
B) use white out
C) write with erasable pens


In Soviet Russia, we use a pencil^W^W^W^W...errr...Pencil uses YOU!

Seriously, though, learning Calc in college, the biggest impediment was using programs to
"help" us learn, but if you did not know WTF you were doing, using Maple, mathcad or whatever
program just made the problem worse with learning how to program the damn thing.

If I were not the one that went through it, it would have been funny because the programmers
(engineers, etc) were there to learn calc, and the math majors had to learn how to program.

Smart ones teamed up, because the best way to learn calc is to use pencil and paper
and work the problem, not massage the computer software and hope to hell you did not make
a typo, syntax error or fuck up the equasion because you'd never be sure unless you could
solve the problem yourself.

IME, school/learning is about teachers and their skills, not computers and technology.

Re:Not surprising (4, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 7 years ago | (#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 (4, Interesting)

Compholio (770966) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628421)

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.
My university has recently implemented a third type, which the GP appears to be familiar with, where instructors use a tablet pc and a projector instead of a blackboard. I am actually on the committee for helping to introduce this technology and I can tell you that it is significantly different from using a slide show. There are several major advantages to using a tablet (writing on it, not as a slideshow) over using a blackboard:
  • Ability to easily erase
  • Ability to reposition text at will
  • Ability to move on without erasing the board
  • Ability to save the entire lecture as a PDF
In addition to that we have been experimenting with giving entire classes of students tablets. This then allows the instructor to ask students questions about the lecture (like "clickers"). However, by using open-ended questions where students respond in paragraph form, or by drawing out their answer, the professor can much more effectively gauge how students are learning.

Re:Not surprising (1)

presentt (863462) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628551)

Similarly, the high school I just graduated from has started using SmartBoards [wikipedia.org] in place of regular whiteboards. Students still take notes, etc., and the class operates largely the same way. However, the touch-sensitive board is interfaced with the computer and vica-versa. Notes can be saved, websites or other displays can be pulled up, and so forth. I don't think it has ever hindered the learning environment, except perhaps in the first few weeks of class when teachers were still learning how to use it.

They're all crap (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628873)

Traditional lectures are abysmal teaching methods.

http://lowery.tamu.edu/Teaming/Morgan1/sld023.htm [tamu.edu]

 

You don't know how to use it. Re:They're all crap (1)

twitter (104583) | more than 7 years ago | (#19629917)

Traditional lectures are abysmal teaching methods.

What a load. People have been teaching and learning forever. A good course will have a combination of all the things in the Pyramid you link to and any display technology will do. Let's review.

Method (average retention rate)

"Traditional:"

  • Lecture (5%)
  • Reading (10%)
  • Audiovisual (20%)
  • Demonstration (30%)

"Teaming:"

  • Discussion (50%)
  • Practice by Doing (75%)
  • Teaching Others, Immediate Use. (90%)

A reasonable course must have a combination of all of these things. A lecture must be used to introduce the students to new material. If the students already know it, you are wasting their time. The students should be reading up on things and should be encouraged to ask questions, this is also known as homework and discussion. "Practice by doing" is what homework is for and good classes will have good examples to follow. Teaching Others is what happens when students get together to help each other with homework. It's not as good as being forced to lecture, but there's not always time for that when there's lots of ground to cover as there is in every class up to graduate school and research. Where there's too much material for the student to learn, they don't have time to teach.

These things can all be accomplished with any teaching aids, all the way back to scratching in sand. Movies and other image projections are a real improvement and should be used on occasion to show the student exactly what they are learning about. Tablets, white boards, and chalk boards are all substitutes for sand. Any magic they offer comes entirely from the person drawing on them. I still prefer chalk to white board and think tablets are too expensive for what they provide.

Re:Not surprising (2)

Vomibra (930404) | more than 7 years ago | (#19629117)

Ability to save the entire lecture as a PDF

I've also seen technology that allows those kind of presentations to be recorded as flash files. A professor of mine also used this to let kids get richer feedback on their submitted papers; he would load their papers up in the tablet PC app (electronic submission was required for other reasons) and record himself talking and circling, crossing out, etc parts of the papers.

Re:Not surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19628659)

The experience was exactly the opposite for me. I'd rather spend class time actually paying attention and absorbing the material than mindlessly copying text off the wall. If you are trying to memorize facts instead of learning something conceptually challenging, by all means go with the copy-it-until-it's-burnt-into-your-retina strategy. The rest of us came to class because we believe it has something to offer that can't be copied out of a book.

Re:Not surprising (1)

misleb (129952) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628919)

The experience was exactly the opposite for me. I'd rather spend class time actually paying attention and absorbing the material than mindlessly copying text off the wall.


No kidding! What was most annoying in college was teh 5 students who couldn't copy down the information fast enough and had to ask the instructor to stop while they wrote it down before movign on. How awkward. I just wanted to yell to to them, "Just pay attention and maybe take some abridged notes! You're holding up the class!" I don't mind if other people stop to ask questions or something, but holding things up to copy what is being said/written on the board word for word1? WTF?

Somebody needs to teach these people effective, efficient note taking. Notes are for little tidbits that weren't in the reading material or things you want to research further later... not to copy down, verbatim what the instructor is saying!And this is why the technological solutions are inadaquate. Students don't need a copy of everything on the board or what is said. They need they're own personal notes.

-matthew

Re:Not surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19629773)

Somebody needs to teach these people effective, efficient note taking. Notes are for little tidbits that weren't in the reading material or things you want to research further later

Your ability to pick apart a lesson and note only the important parts might be greater than average. Unfortunately, not everyone is the note-taker that you are.

First of all, there's my writing speed. I couldn't get 1/4 of the board written down by the time most people would have the entire board copied. (I mean that quite literally so I never bothered having the teacher wait since another minute or two wouldn't have helped me.)

Also, I have difficulty picking out the important parts of a lecture so my notes based on the lecture were completely inadequate. My success in class was largely dependent on the quality of the textbook, quality of the questions in homework assignment, my natural understanding of the subject matter, or some mix of the three. "Absorbing the material" as per the GP only worked if I had a natural ability for the material in question. Based on your remarks, your abilities in that regard may also be better than average and probably applies to more subjects than my abilities (pretty much just math and science).

Having a copy of the lecture has made the difference in my second attempt at college (online). It doesn't matter if I get bored while reading the lecture since I can just go back and read it again. If I miss an important point, it was because I wasn't thorough (or the lecture simply wasn't good). The only notes I take are when I'm studying so the only pace that I need to keep up with is my own. The speed at which I write doesn't affect my grade.

Just because some students better retain what they've written down doesn't mean that some students wouldn't prefer to study the material that's already written. If the goal of education is to actually teach something as opposed to it being a test of whether or not a student can keep up with others under a given set of circumstances, using a reasonably wide range to tools is appropriate (unfortunately, you can't cater to all students equally). Anyway, to stay on topic, that doesn't necessarily mean having to use advanced technology. A printed copy of the lecture would do just fine. (As for writing a report, my 93wpm typing speed makes life much easier than my 1/4 average handwriting speed.)

Re:Not surprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19629355)

iThe experience was exactly the opposite for me. I'd rather spend class time actually paying attention and absorbing the material than mindlessly copying text off the wall. If you are trying to memorize facts instead of learning something conceptually challenging, by all means go with the copy-it-until-it's-burnt-into-your-retina strategy. The rest of us came to class because we believe it has something to offer that can't be copied out of a book.

Same thing for me. I had a Chemistry instructor who just wrote down the same stuff that was in the book on an overhead projector. He wrote and droned on without even looking to see if anyone had a question but meanwhile I was in the back reading the book myself, taking my own notes, and covering twice the material. I stopped going to lectures except on days when there was an exam and I got A's on those exams anyway.

Meanwhile my Materials Science instructor used powerpoint and because he wasn't standing around writing he moved around the room actually lecturing and answering questions immediately when they were asked. We could print out the powerpoints before class and write extra notes in the margins beside the slides. I went to every lecture because I was learning more and better than I would have just from reading the book, unlike in that Chem class.

Not everybody learns the same way (1)

DragonHawk (21256) | more than 7 years ago | (#19629295)

News flash: Not everybody learns the same way.

The fact that one guy didn't learn well by taking notes doesn't mean that taking notes is a universal hindrance for all. Likewise, transcribing things helps many people retain information.

Why the heck do so many people think one size must fit all?

Re:Not surprising (1)

jbengt (874751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19629529)

I had one class that was a third type, where the professor passed out only an general agenda or syllabus, tried to engage the class, and asked us not to take notes because that would distract us. He said if we needed notes, it would be better to go to the library and write them up from memory after the class, though he admitted that no one would do that. The couple of times I did try making notes afterwords, it worked better than taking copious notes during class. Still I occassionally took brief notes during that class, the trick is not to try to write everything down.
I did have at least one other class where you had to write everything down from the blackboard, because there was no other source for that info, as the prof really didn't use the books.

Re:Not surprising (1, Insightful)

slarrg (931336) | more than 7 years ago | (#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 (1)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628585)

But pen and paper and blackboards hinder me.

Well then you're not qualified to teach under natural conditions. That puts you out of a rewarding peace corps job.

There is nothing more effective than being in front of a student and engage in conversation about a new topic.
Teachers that sit behind desks aren't teaching.

Re:Not surprising (4, Insightful)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 7 years ago | (#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 (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 7 years ago | (#19629835)

That's right say it with me people:

The computer is not a substitute for a good teacher and an even poorer substitute for a good teacher the knows the subject they are teaching.

Re:Not surprising (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628859)

There is no easy way to apply corrections to pen and paper.

Use pencil instead?

Re:Not surprising (1)

Esion Modnar (632431) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628151)

I know that in order to be creative and insightful

Well, for that I use /. IMHO.

Re:Not surprising (2, Insightful)

fm6 (162816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628667)

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.

Insult to injury? (3, Insightful)

saforrest (184929) | more than 7 years ago | (#19627839)

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.

Re:Insult to injury? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19628501)

This was a charter school [wikipedia.org] and not part of the regular public school system. So, it was actually a competitor to the district, similar to private schools.

Re:Insult to injury? (1)

saforrest (184929) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628805)


This was a charter school and not part of the regular public school system. So, it was actually a competitor to the district, similar to private schools.


Right, exactly, so the public school system couldn't and shouldn't care less about it.

Or is your point perhaps that the fact that competitor would up with the building is a blow? As if Apple were to get bought out by Microsoft, or something like that.

Re:Insult to injury? (1)

saforrest (184929) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628819)

Or is your point perhaps that the fact that competitor would up with the building is a blow? As if Apple were to get bought out by Microsoft, or something like that.

sorry, "would" should be "wound".

Re:Insult to injury? (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19629807)

Actually, the school district is under pressure to provide facilities for another, more successful charter school (Summit Prep) that's outgrown it's current campus. (RTFA) That's why they bought the campus, to turn over to Summit. Which does indeed kind of rub HTH's students in it.

This is what happens ... (5, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 7 years ago | (#19627859)

... when your Principal is Microsoft Bob and your school mascot is Clippy.

First and Last Post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19627863)

This is the end for the /. school of trolling.
It has been a good year but with the lack of quality editors to teach; we have to shut down.
I would expect DIG will be snatching up the servers and domain to use as a play toy for the children.
I just hope that Cowboy Neal is not found in the gutter with a bottle of wine in a year.

It's been nice nowing-ya and thanks for all the Karma!

GmBy

Re:First and Last Post (-1, Offtopic)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 7 years ago | (#19627903)

I just hope that Cowboy Neal is not found in the gutter with a bottle of wine in a year.
Why do you want Cowboy Neal to be thirsty? What kind of a monster are you?

Once you're in the gutter the wine doesn't really hurt you since, let's face it, it can't much worse once it's gone that far.

alive and well (4, Informative)

cbnewman (106449) | more than 7 years ago | (#19627871)

High Tech High [hightechhigh.org] is alive and well in San Diego County. They're now up to 6 campuses, I believe with one elementary middle school, one middle school, three high schools in south county and a new middle school and high school opening in North county this fall.

Their robotics team [techhigh.org] is very well respected and consistently performs well at national competitions. Their college placement rates are substantially higher than other local high schools. The failure of the SV HTH actually had more to do with administrative and personnel issues that were unique to the San Francisco campus. HTH continues to thrive and grow in California.

Re:alive and well (3, Informative)

funnyman06 (1119527) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628613)

I would like to correct you, the High Tech High san diego roboitcs team is 1538 not 675. The link is http://www.team1538.com/engine.php?page=home&style =cow-metallic [team1538.com] . This is a school where students that stand out have the ability to get accepted to schools like Fredric Olin School of Engineering, Berkely, Cal Poly SLO, UCLA, Stanford, etc. So the school is doing very well and is alive. Id like to add that these High Tech High's are in no way related to High Tech High LA, completely different. I graduated from High Tech High.

boo freaking hoooo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19627873)

Am I suppose to be sad rich kids have to go to public school instead of some elite snobby school?

Re:boo freaking hoooo (0, Offtopic)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 7 years ago | (#19627987)

Yes. Since Susy Hotpants will take notice of the Beamer in the parking lot instead of the coat hanger holding up the muffler on our Beetle.

You fracking moron. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19628011)

Rich kids--or rather, kids with the ability to spend money on their education, whether it comes from grants, rich parents, or middle-class parents sacrificing like mad for their kids--will always have the choice of going to a school they pay for. Because they can choose where they go, and they bring money, there'll be competition for them. Schools that need to compete need to perform.

Public schools don't need to compete. That's not, by any means, the only problem that exists in public schools--bad parenting is responsible for a huge number of school-related problems, in both public and private schools.

I went to a public school. It was great, largely from a second generation immigrant community, though far from having only that group present--but there are public schools that are more dangerous than taking the subway at two in the morning or walking through Harlem, with much worse behavior. (A guy I know had to pull a student off a female teacher, because the student pushed her against the wall and started humping her leg.) (At one school, the students beat up a cop in front of the school. So the cops came in and basically acted like thugs for a week.) How many knife-fights a year are there at private schools? We want experiments in education. We want to find solutions, and to try new ideas, even if it's a technological idea that, inherently, a geek knows will be more trouble than it's worth unless it's done exceptionally well.

It's scientific. We experiment. And sometimes the school goes under. But hopefully some people involved learned a bit, and maybe they can do better next time.

Re:You fracking moron. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19628705)

That's not, by any means, the only problem that exists in public schools--bad parenting is responsible for a huge number of school-related problems, in both public and private schools.

So if bad parenting exists in both, it seems irrelevant to the debate. I had two friends (who cleaned themselves up) who smoke weed and occasionally did cocaine at the schools their parents paid BIG bucks for.

but there are public schools that are more dangerous than taking the subway at two in the morning or walking through Harlem, with much worse behavior.

I do not think that this is the norm in the U.S., although there are obviously some schools like this (and it's sad that they do not get more help). For those that are able, I would recommend moving your kids. I went to a public school in a suburb of 20,000 residents, part of a metro of about 160,000 I think (so it's not very big). At my school, people held bake sales and did theater on their free time (10 years ago; I'm exaggerating, but it was a pretty mild student body in all). Not all schools/areas are bad. Granted, although the jobs pay decently for the cost of living in this area, it might take some time to find one, depending on your skill set (if you know .NET or MSSQL/Oracle, you have nothing to worry about). But I guess you have to set priorities for you and your kids.

Charters are public. (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628433)

This was a charter school, not a private school. Charters are public and, like all public schools, free to attend. Some are associated with particular school districts, some are not and are overseen solely at the state level. It sounds like this one was not affiliated with the school district, but that does NOT make it private.

Man I wish I was young again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19627911)

Just the fact that there is stuff like this nowadays really makes me want to go back to school again.

I hated grade school (college somewhat less but I didn't learn anything new). Going to a school like this would have been awesome assuming I could have gone to it. I guess I would have had to live in CA.

Hmmm, even though I'm in my 30's I can easily pass for a highschool student. Maybe I should enroll.

Re:Man I wish I was young again (4, Funny)

said213 (72685) | more than 7 years ago | (#19627981)

"Maybe I should enroll."

Yes, because this article is about the school remaining open.

Re:Man I wish I was young again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19628401)

The article is talking about the San Francisco school smartass. There are quite a number of High Tech Highs in SoCal.

Re:Man I wish I was young again (1)

Reaperducer (871695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19629527)

"Maybe I should enroll."

Yes, because this article is about the school remaining open.
I think his first class should be Reading Comprehension.

Re:Man I wish I was young again (1)

jrsumm (466914) | more than 7 years ago | (#19629085)

The best thing about high school girls... No matter how old you get, they always stay the same age.

If they could only know the future - but we can! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19627957)

I know that the Slashdot crowd seems to disbelieve in divination, but I personally know many geeks who are deeply involved with the ancient art of Tarot. In the hands of an educated person, the Tarot deck is also a science. Anyone can read the future with the help of a Tarot Master and uncover your destiny just like this short video [dailymotion.com] shows.

If my high school had been like High Tech high... (3, Insightful)

FunWithKnives (775464) | more than 7 years ago | (#19627967)

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.

Not entirely govs fault (4, Insightful)

Tony (765) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628169)

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.

No Child Left Behind is achieved (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628761)

No Child Left Behind is achieved by holding all the rest back.

Re:Not entirely govs fault (1)

arpad1 (458649) | more than 7 years ago | (#19629235)

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.
No, I think pretty much all the important problems of education are due to the fact that it is a government organization, i.e. the result of a political deal. That means every decision made since the founding of public education has had a political component to it where it wasn't exclusively political in nature.

For anyone who's read this far, NCLB required states to prove they were meeting their own standards in order to get that federal love. They didn't have to meet federal standards, the states just had to meet the standards they set for themselves and do something substantive about lousy schools like closing them.

Closing lousy schools?! Holy shit! Why would anyone want to close lousy schools? If lousy schools could be lousy for a couple of decades without much concern about survival why get all lathered about them now?

That's politics.

Oh yeah, part of the deal that got NCLB through was a substantial bump in federal funding to public education.

Sweet hey? In order to determine whether public schools were doing what they're supposed to do we had to bribe them to let us.

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.
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.

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

Someone should should let the parents of Washington D.C. in on that insight. They're under the mistaken impression that the amount of money is immaterial if your kid can't read and those parents have kind of a special perspective on the topic. D.C. district per student spending is over $16,000 this year.

Oh, and teachers are over-paid. They have neither the responsibilities or educational requirements of a civil engineer yet their average salaries are equal. But that's understandable. After all, civil engineers can't use children to leverage pay increases.

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.
You bet.

Let's see, the students are lousy, the parents are lousy.
The kids take too much in the way of drugs or not enough.
They watch too much television while playing too many video games while surfing the Internet for porn.
They don't get enough to eat, they get too much to eat.
They've got ADD, get too much homework which their parents either do for them or don't give a damn about, or not enough homework.
They have to learn to work together, as a team, so that they can explore their individuality.
They have to learn all about environmental responsibility while being dragged around town in big, fat school buses.
They have to understand diverse perspectives but not ask too many questions.
They must learn not to be judgmental except of those who don't understand the importance of being non-judgmental.Them it's OK to judge.
They have to learn that they're responsible for the air, the water, bugs, animals, poor people, ozone, the ice caps, sea level, the angle of the sun and the direction of the prevailing winds. They have to learn that they're responsible for everything but themselves. That's someone else's responsibility.

I guess there is a lot more than the government at work here.

Re:Not entirely govs fault (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19629391)

In response.

HTH in SV was a charter school. Not a regular public school. Oh wait, it failed. I guess that was the regular system's fault.

Property taxes are higher in rich neighbourhoods, so more money can go into the local schools there. Poor neighbourhoods have lower property taxes, so less money can go into the local school. Which is a better situation for education, more money or less?

Teachers get paid too much? You're delusional. An professional engineer (I am one) has way less responsibility and is paid way higher.
Teachers also have to keep on pushing those credentialing buttons, meaning they have to keep on taking classes etc. In fact the system is slanted in such away that if you want to earn the highest rate you pretty much have to keep on getting those letters behind their names.

Oh, and what do you think a decent wage that would enable you to live in the bay area? $50,000?

Re:Not entirely govs fault (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 7 years ago | (#19629253)

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."
Doesn't George Bush have a degree? Or are you saying we should judge political leaders based on whether they've had elocution lessons or something equally superficial?

Re:Not entirely govs fault (1)

Scudsucker (17617) | more than 7 years ago | (#19629435)

Doesn't George Bush have a degree? Or are you saying we should judge political leaders based on whether they've had elocution lessons or something equally superficial?

Are you saying idiots can't have degrees?

Re:Not entirely govs fault (4, Funny)

HAKdragon (193605) | more than 7 years ago | (#19629281)

That reminds me of something Chris Rock once said in one of his stand up specials. It went something like

In the black community, you get more respect coming out of jail then you do coming out of school.
"Hey man, I got my masters!"
"So you my master now? Well, let me ask you this, can you kick my ass?"

Re:Not entirely govs fault (1)

Reaperducer (871695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19629453)

Sure, "No child left behind" has fucked it up even more, but we can only lay a certain amount of blame on the government.
Actually, now that it's been in place long enough to have an impact, ABC News and others are reporting that it looks like No Child Left Behind actually works, after all [go.com] .

(Note that I have no children, don't work for a school or school system, and in no way am involved in the American education cartel so I really don't care much one way or the other.)

charter schools done wrong (1)

MarsDefenseMinister (738128) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628237)

I don't know about having the privileged class assist schools. For our schools to succeed, they need to do it themselves. Maybe the fact that a sponsor with deep pockets was in the mix is also the reason the school failed. Just like a liberal welfare program, unless your own money is on the line, there's no incentive to do better.

And now the school property is just going to expand the existing public indoctrination system. Very sad.

Re:charter schools done wrong (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628469)

Nah, just as many charter schools fail (either financially or academically) that don't have corporate angels backing them. They're experiments, and some are very poorly thought-out experiments. Hopefully soon people will start focusing on replicating the successful ones rather than trying random new ones - but even that isn't a guarantee of success, seeing as how there are several other successful HTHs that didn't run into the same problems this one did.

Re:charter schools done wrong (1)

bangzilla (534214) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628701)

er... no. Summit Prep that will take over the space is an *awesome* school. I know - my daughter attends Summit. 100% of seniors this year are off to college. That is not sad. That is wonderful.

Re:charter schools done wrong (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#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:charter schools done wrong (1)

MarsDefenseMinister (738128) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628893)

That was the comment I was going to write, but you beat me to it.

Re:charter schools done wrong (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 7 years ago | (#19629065)

Did you go to college?

Re:charter schools done wrong (1)

bangzilla (534214) | more than 7 years ago | (#19629935)

well gee - the software company I work for ($12 Billion and growing) hires based on academic achievemnt (as one key factor). We want to see that kids can focus, learn, expereince and deliver results. Which is not to say that kids without a degree aren't good - although many, many are not). So yes - college is important and for 100% of graduating seniors to go to college is a wonderful achievement.

SV High? (0, Troll)

glimmy (796729) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628307)

Did anyone else read that title and think Sweet Valley High?

TCO (3, Funny)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628395)

Just goes to show that even the world's richest person can't afford the TCO of running a school with Windows...

Despite the financial support.. (3, Funny)

dynamo (6127) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628503)

Way to half-ass yet another product, Bill.

My daughter attends Summit Prep (2, Interesting)

bangzilla (534214) | more than 7 years ago | (#19628685)

I'm really pleased to see this happen. Yes - I do feel sorry for the failed venture that was High Tech High Redwood City (however High Tech High's in San Diego are, I understand, doing very well). Summit Prep graduated it's first senior class this year. 100% of seniors are off to college. Yes, 100%. Good indication that Summit is doing *very* well. My daughter loves the school, the staff and the students. Many High Tech High students have applied to attend Summit - some will get in, others will go to other schools in the district.

Re:My daughter attends Summit Prep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19629173)

Summit Prep graduated it's first senior class this year

ARGH!

Re:My daughter attends Summit Prep (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 7 years ago | (#19629277)

That's not a very impressive statistic when you consider most (all?) of the pupils there will probably be from priveledged backgrounds so would get into college anyway. It doesn't say a lot about the quality of teaching.

Re:My daughter attends Summit Prep (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19629875)

The numbers I've heard, which are third-hand but I believe are reasonably accurate, are that 100% of Summit's grads have been accepted to College and about 60% of those are the first-ever to go to college from their families. I believe Summit's college-acceptance success has a lot to do with helping their students every step of the way, including a lot of college visits prior to their senior year so they can see college as something that each of them can do.

Re:My daughter attends Summit Prep (1)

himurabattousai (985656) | more than 7 years ago | (#19629387)

100% of graduating seniors going off to college is not an indication that Summit is doing well. It is a nice accomplishment to brag about, but quite meaningless in the long run. If you want to know how good the school is, ask this: How many of those college-bound students will actually graduate from their universities and contribute to society? How many will drop out and end up in minimum wage jobs and their parents' basements until they're thirty because they were pressured into doing something that wasn't right for their futures?

What this country needs is more schools like HTH--schools that actually get their students excited about learning and instill in them a lifelong love for seeking out answers to questions that haven't been asked. What goes on in the vast majority of public, government-run schools (and private ones as well) is not education. It is indoctrination. Charter schools like HTH are necessary because they pose an alternative to the system of mass indoctrination. That it was forced to close its doors is sad for everyone that knows the true value of education--that it is not an end, but rather a means to an end. Seeing schools brag about their rigged average ACT scores and narrow-minded focus on college admissions does nothing but prove to me that they have it wrong.

Re:My daughter attends Summit Prep (1)

JKConsult (598845) | more than 7 years ago | (#19629581)

Your daughter attends Summit Prep, but why does that make you pleased to see the other school fail? Schadenfreude, or is there something I'm missing?

I'm sorry to see it go - I helped get it started (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19628779)

I was briefly involved in getting this school started (I was at the periphery, but we qualified for "founding family" status). Starting a school is a difficult proposition, and the forces aligned against starting a charter school are daunting. The local school district typically doesn't want it because it will siphon money from their direct control. The teachers' union doesn't want it because the teachers in the new school probably won't be unionized, and if the school succeeds there will be less need for teachers at the unionized schools. Staff need to be hired, staff willing to put in the long hours and take the risk of this startup (with no chance of a big payoff in the event of an IPO.) (I came in one evening and helped the director mop floors in preparation for an open house - staff need to be willing to do anything). Most parents don't want to take the risk of sending their children to a new, unproven school. Space for the new school is very difficult to find, especially since there isn't much money available for space and the school will be on a vigorous four-year growth plan, adding a new class of students every year. (I think this school had three different locations in its short lifetime, but I lost track). The standard state funding for students won't cover startup costs, so someone has to apply for and win grants.

On a side note, I've also learned that it doesn't make a difference if a school uses computers based on Windows, Linux, or Macs. They all break. (The other charter school I work with uses Apple notebooks exclusively, and we rely on several volunteers to keep them in repair.)

If you have a Charter School near you, ask if they need help. They probably do, and readers of SlashDot can make a difference in education by providing some behind-the-scenes support to keep those computers going.

San Mateo isn't in Silicon Valley (1)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 7 years ago | (#19629629)

It's not in any valley.

San Francisco isn't in Silicon Valley either, for the record.

Honestly, people should come up with another name for the high tech area because Palo Alto isn't in Silicon Valley either. As high tech as Palo Alto is, it was never really involved in silicon, just software.
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