Is your district ready for a New Tech High School?

The New Technology High School sounds like a great idea -- but can it succeed and enhance the success of all of our students?

Marc Wagner

In my home town, a pretty typical Midwestern college town I suppose, our school district is in the process of establishing a New Tech High School.   The concept has been around since 1999.  Here is what the New Technology Foundation has to say:

New Technology Foundation (NTF)™ was established in 1999 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization working to achieve national education reform with schools that desire to model the Napa New Technology High School™.

(Of course, my community is trying to do this on the cheap -- meaning no new building -- instead this New Technology High School will be housed on one of our regular high schools -- yet, it will have it's own principal, and presumably it's own segregated wing.)    

On their web site, the New Technology Foundation goes on to say:

NTF encourages contribution of best practices, curriculum and tools by all network schools in order to build out the curricular materials and tools for grades 9-12 in the Project-Based Learning library.

Sounds wonderful, doesn't it?  NTF is funded through grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create a network of such high schools across the country.  For a look at the Napa New Technology High School web site, go here

I can just hear some of you now -- either complaining because Bill Gates is a major benefactor, or taking us "back to basics" with "We don't need no stinkin' technology -- we just need good teachers!"

Frankly, I fear our school district has not thought this through.  To do this well, it will require massive funding.  (Now where's that going to come from -- besides the NTF?)  Don't get me wrong, I am all for this concept -- but, if your K-8 students (and their teachers) are not provided the tools early, this concept could fall flat on it's face.  Many of our readers in Ed Tech are already struggling to keep their ancient computer labs running -- diverting scarce resources to a single high school in a district makes it even harder to prepare younger students to take advantage of this concept.  Tell me what you think?

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