On a high

San Diego’s High Tech High is replicating its model nationwide.

Schools are open in New Bedford, Mass., Chicago, San Carlos, and Clackamas, Ore. – the last one devoted to children who have been in the juvenile justice system, foster care or may have dropped out of school. High Tech’s foundation has received almost $10 million in grants from the foundation of Microsoft founder Bill Gates to pursue the academic franchise.

Opening in the fall will be two schools in Los Angeles, one in Harrisburg, Pa., that is associated with a new university and one in Tucson. Schools in Cambridge, Mass., and Albuquerque, N.M., are planned for fall 2005. Schools planned for 2005 or 2006 in San Diego County are a high school devoted to media technologies – its site is undetermined – and a school for ninth-and 10th-graders in the Sweetwater school district in South County with specialty offerings in environmental topics.

All receive about $400,000 start-up money, support in planning and the curriculum in exchange for following the model originally illustrated at High Tech, including: small size, (there were about 400 students at the original campus); use of computers, technology projects to enhance class work, internships in technology companies and a less rigid classroom environment.

The first High Tech High recruits students who reflect the demographics of the San Diego district; about 60 percent of the first graduating class were the first in their families to go to college.

The founder’s father founded Qualcomm; the school gets major donations from high-tech industry.

About Joanne