So far, it has seemed to work. Partnerships with Cisco Systems,
BIOCOM, and Hughes Network Systems, among others, allow the school
to offer the riches of technology to a student body that, in
ethnicity and economic status, mirrors the rest of San Diego's
public schools. Apart from capital expenses, High Tech High's
outlay per pupil is $18 less than the California average of $6,772.
Discipline problems are few, students are engaged in learning, and
the whole setup impressed the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
so much that it pledged $6.4 million to replicate the concept in 10
schools across the country. The first High Tech High clone opened
this fall in Philadelphia.
"Schools that meet the needs of all students look like High Tech
High," says Tom Vander Ark, executive director of education at the
Gates Foundation, which also has pledged $4.9 million to a similar
school in Napa, California, New Technology High School, for its
effort to clone itself at 10 other California sites. "This grant
recognizes the role that these key elements have played in the
design of [the school]."
What the Gates Foundation and these schools' other supporters
recognize is that if they want quality graduates, they don't have
time to wait for governments to solve schools' problems. "Today's
economy and the demands of the work world now require students to
master the application of ... fundamentals learned in the
classroom," Gary Jacobs said when the Gates grant was announced.
"There's a pressing need for small, focused schools that use
business partnerships and technology to strengthen teaching and
learning and offer today's students real-world educational