Schools within schools

In Sacramento, students at career academies are combining academics with vocational courses. Arthur Benjamin Health Professions High School is considered a model.

In algebra class, the experts saw students calculate proper doses of medicine for a child. In Spanish class, they heard a discussion of herbal remedies. In biology, they observed teenagers with microscopes checking whether bacteria grow more in water, alcohol or hand sanitizer.

In Illinois specialty academies within large high schools make students feel connected.

Aneesh Rangnekar begins his mornings in a Bartlett High School technology lab where students use everything from hacksaws to computerized milling machines to churn out robots, high-mileage vehicles, even bass guitars.

The 17-year-old takes other classes on the sprawling campus, but he’s most comfortable at the school’s Science, Engineering and High Technology Academy.

In the first story, a Berkelely professor warns that creating ambitiously named academies isn’t enough. The teaching has to be change.

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Comments

  1. wayne martin says:

    > The key to improving high schools lies in “breaking down that
    > separation between academic and technical that has existed
    > for the last century,” Hoachlander said.

    Lot of truth in this, for my point-of-view. Far too much “theory” that is not connected to anything in the “real world” (particularly in mathematics) can be demonstrated in the high school curricula. For top students, not certain a lot of change is necessary. However, for the bottom two-thirds of the students changing the delivery to include meaningful real world applications offers the opportunity to increase the relevance of the material and hopeful the interest of the students which is necessary to engage them and have them ultimately do the work necessary to learn the material.

    > Schools with strong academics may fear their programs will be
    > watered down, said Jeannie Oakes, author of the UCLA study.
    > Vocational education advocates may fear that “students they’ve
    > served historically will be set up for failure.”

    Currently, here in California anyway, between 40 percent and 70 percent of the students entering the CSU (tier-two) system are routed into remedial English/Math classes, or both. While this phenomenon is relatively new (started in the ‘90s), one can only wonder what “failure” researcher Oakes is talking about?

  2. Herbal remedies in Spanish class? Wouldn’t that be more appropriate in a chemistry or biology class, to study their composition or effectiveness?

    That’s a bit like studying fortune cookies in Chinese class. Only useful if you assume lots of stereotypes about the speakers of the language, and of very little use for learning the language.

    A vocational school that wishes to offer a Spanish course should emphasis reading and speaking the language well, perhaps requiring students to learn vocabulary and do reports (in Spanish) about a topic of interest to their career goal, and leaving out the multicultural feel-good portion.

  3. Like stones cast into the public education waters, charter schools create ripples that can affect conventional public schools nearby. Find out more. See Charter Schools Today: Stories of Inspiration, Struggle & Success, by award-winning journalist Joe Williams and published by The Center for Education Reform.

    http://www.edreform.com/index.cfm?fuseAction=document&documentID=2588&sectionID=55

  4. This is the theme hall approach applied to secondary schools. While I’m a big proponent of the schools-within-schools approach in general, I’m not an advocate of theme halls. I’d suggest that much of the success of these programs can be attributed to the fact that they are small and decentralized, like properly cross-sectional house systems, rather than to any theme that they may have associated with them.

  5. Indigo Warrior says:

    Craig:

    Herbal remedies in Spanish class? Wouldn’t that be more appropriate in a chemistry or biology class, to study their composition or effectiveness?

    Yes.

    That’s a bit like studying fortune cookies in Chinese class. Only useful if you assume lots of stereotypes about the speakers of the language, and of very little use for learning the language.

    Many of my Asian-origin friends are agnostics/atheists, and what religious passion they have is for science and the scientific method. They would be insulted if they heard of a Chinese-language class that focused on fortune cookies, Tai Chi, Feng Shui, I Ching, mantras, mandalas, and the like.