Behind the Headline: Laurene Powell Jobs Commits $50 Million to Create New High Schools

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Laurene Powell Jobs Commits $50 Million to Create New High Schools
New York Times | 9/14/15

Behind the Headline
New York City’s Small School Revolution
Education Next| 3/30/15

Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs, is launching a $50 million effort to reinvent the high school.

Called XQ: The Super School Project, the campaign is meant to inspire teams of educators and students, as well as leaders from other sectors, to come up with new plans for high schools. Over the next several months, the teams will submit plans that could include efforts like altering school schedules, curriculums and technologies. By fall next year, Ms. Powell Jobs said, a team of judges will pick five to 10 of the best ideas to finance.

Earlier this year, Peter Meyer described the efforts of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fix high schools in New York City by converting large high schools into smaller schools.

While the nation seemed transfixed by No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and Common Core State Standards, “one of the most wide-ranging reforms in public education” during that time, according to a group of researchers from Duke and MIT, “was the reorganization of large comprehensive high schools into small schools” in New York City.

Not only did the district, the largest in the country, take on a student population that had come to symbolize the impossibility of educating a certain kind of child—the urban poor who entered high school two and three grades behind—but it succeeded in getting those students to graduation. What worked in New York was a multifaceted, multibillion-dollar, multiyear overhaul of the city’s high schools. In an era when a high school diploma is the difference between a career and a lifetime on the dole, New York’s high-school reforms have increased the economic mobility of tens of thousands of students.

– Education Next

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