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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Rethinking school: XQ promotes ‘super schools’

XQ: Super School Live, an hour-long program on innovative high schools, will air tonight on ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. Participating performers will include Tom

The XQ Institute, which has awarded $100 million in grants to innovative “super schools” across the country is funding the program. Steve Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, is one of the funders. Hanks, Common, Jennifer Hudson, Samuel L. Jackson, Sheryl Crow, and Yo-Yo Ma.

The glitzy show promotes a false narrative that our schools need to change but are unwilling to do so, argues Jack Schneider on Valerie Strauss’ Answer Sheet. He’s an assistant professor of education at the College of the Holy Cross, director of research for the Massachusetts Consortium for Innovative Education Assessment and the author of Beyond Test Scores: A Better Way to Measure School Quality.

Schneider questions XQ’s claim that today’s students need a different kind of education because new technologies are changing the world.

(Americans) want students to develop interpersonal skills and citizenship traits. They want schools to teach critical thinking and an array of academic skills. They want young people to be exposed to arts and music, to have opportunities for play and creativity, and to be supported socially and emotionally. . . . While the core purpose of education has remained the same, much about our schools has changed over the past century. Again, however, XQ offers us a fabricated reality. As the project’s website puts it: “For the past 100 years, America’s high schools have remained virtually unchanged.” Our educators, they imply, have been asleep at the wheel.

I don’t think Schneider is describing XQ’s goals accurately: The point is not to turn out product designers or technologists. I do worry that the super schools will turn out to be duds. Change is hard.

Here’s an XQ grantee that’s focusing on personalized learning and another located inside a museum.

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