Lessons for Microsoft about the Difficulty of School Reform

By 03/30/2010

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Harvard Education Press has released What Next? Educational Innovation and Philadelphia’s School of the Future, edited by Mary Cullinane and Frederick M. Hess.

Here’s how the book is described by the publisher

When the school district of Philadelphia teamed up with the Microsoft Corporation in 2006 to redesign the American high school, the result was the School of the Future, hailed by National Public Radio as “the next big thing”… While technology was a crucial element at the School of the Future, the redesign sought fundamentally to rethink the models for teaching and learning…What Next? offers a detailed study of the school’s first three years (2006–2009) revealing what the School of the Future can teach us about high school redesign, public-private partnerships, and the use of technology in school reform. The book’s contributors—researchers, educators, and practitioners—offer countless insights into “when and how technology-based school redesign leads to improved teaching and learning, when it does not, and what this means in terms of dramatically improving the American high school.”

Microsoft has had plenty of opportunities to observe how difficult it can be to create a new kind of school. In its first years, the School of the Future has struggled with leadership turnover, hiring problems, and changing directives from the school district about whether the school can do things differently. Now in its fourth year of operation, the school is having trouble attracting students.

The Spring 2010 issue of Ed Next includes “High School 2.0: Can Philadelphia’s School of the Future Live Up to Its Name?” an article by Dale Mezzacappa, one of the contributors to What’s Next?

In an interview just posted on the Ed Next website, Dale Mezzacappa talks about lessons school reformers can learn from the School of the Future.

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