Huffpost Education
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

John M. Eger Headshot

The McGraw Hill Prize: A Short Story About a Place Called High Tech High

Posted: Updated:

Larry Rosenstock, who likes to tell people he was a carpenter and taught carpentry early in life, was recently among three to win the McGraw Hill prize for education.

In fact, Rosenstock is a lawyer, educator, who helped found High Tech High in San Diego as a charter school in 2000. And in the process has turned education upside down.

For starters "High Tech High" is a bit of a misnomer.

The whole educational experience looks like an art school in disguise; High Tech High is a remarkable example of art infusion, indeed infusion of the various disciplines.

It consists of six schools: three high schools, two middle schools and one elementary school, all with 2,500 students and 200 employees. One hundred percent of graduates have been admitted to college, 80 percent to four-year institutions of higher learning.

Each semester the entire faculty and student body are assigned a topic they work together on and that draws on all disciplines, forcing students to work collaboratively on real world problems.

There is no math class or art per se.

Rather, those disciplines -- still taught, still relevant -- are curriculum-infused, integrated if you will, into larger questions like: How does the world work? Who lives here? Why do things matter?

Larry Rosenstock, CEO of High Tech High, points with pride to these projects as they bring all the disciplines and all the energy and intellect of the class together. He has been accused of running "an art school in disguise." Others yet, have complained about the way the school teaches math.

Indeed, High Tech High is not a school many of us would immediately recognize.

Critics aside, supporters are obviously pleased. Why. Again, all students, some with scholarship, enter a four-year university when they graduate. But more. These kids have the "thinking skills" the real world demands to make a difference.

There are plans to create 10 more such schools throughout California with the help of The Gates Foundation and others.

In addition, High Tech High has created a graduate school to train teachers in these new techniques.

No need for Superman here. Rather just another example in this great land that we can do something about K-12 now. We have all the evidence we need.