What if? - Palm Technology Academy


Today's "What if?" comes from a New York Times article I wrote about in November. 

WHAT IF TEACHERS GAVE UP the vestiges of their educational past, threw away the worksheets, burned the canon and reconfigured the foundation upon which a century of learning has been built? What if we blurred the lines between academic subjects and reimagined the typical American classroom so that, at least in theory, it came to resemble a typical American living room or a child's bedroom or even a child's pocket, circa 2010 - if, in other words, the slipstream of broadband and always-on technology that fuels our world became the source and organizing principle of our children's learning? What if, instead of seeing school the way we've known it, we saw it for what our children dreamed it might be: a big, delicious video game?


Here's the link to the full article:

Video Games Win a Beachhead in the Classroom 

New York Times - Sunday Magazine


Published: September 19, 2010


What if we were to convert our one struggling elementary school, Palm Elementary, into a non-charter district run technology school? It wouldn't have to be a replica of the New York school but it would provide technology focused curriculum. I am sure there are grants available from technology corporations and charitable foundations. The school in the article received grants from  the MacArthur Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others. This new school would meet President Obama's "Race to the Top" program's goal which asks school districts "to re-evaluate how they approach failing schools and consider new and somewhat controversial solutions." This would help the district qualify for additional funding under the Race to the Top program.

Here's my idea.  

Convert Palm into a 3-6 or 3-8 technology academy. Provide transportation for all of Palm's K-2 students to other schools. Guarantee any students living in the Palm boundaries admittance to the tech academy if they want to attend. The remaining spots would be filled with students from the remaining Beaumont schools selected by lottery. Parents of tech academy students would have to agree to active particapation, minimum attendance requirements and to provide their own transportation.

This would take a school in program improvement and replace it with a cutting edge academy. It would guarantee the families of current Palm students an alternative and improve their chances of success. 

This is "thinking outside the box".