Found in Education: Jobs' Grant, INBs, and

Found in Education this week: grants from the private sector, setting up interactive notebooks, and  is money from Steve jobs' widow. Laurene Powell Jobs pledged $50 million in grants to people who want to "revolutionize" the American high school.  I love her passion for education but I wanted to put that money in perspective:

First, private funders believing they can transform education is nothing new. Bill gates wanted small high schools... and essentially the needle has moved little and may have actually been a negative to the education system.

Second, the assumption Miss Jobs makes is that secondary education doesn't work - that we are teaching in the same manner as we did in the 1950s.  I would challenge private funders to spend a year sitting in high school classrooms all over the U.S. and see how many schools have abandoned the teacher at the front of the classroom.  Schools are doing amazing things with very little support.  I wonder what would happen if we supported the teachers and schools we have?

Third I know that compared to our overall education budget of $5 billion $50 million is a small amount.  New York spends nearly $20,000/student a year.  For $50 million at this rate, which presumably a "transformative" education will cost at least this, will educate 2,500 students for 1 year.

Fourth, as Big Picture Learning, and many others, has demonstrated, transforming high school education is extremely difficult without transforming the entire system of education, and in particular the college admissions process. Big Picture Learning focused on one child at a time learning but struggles to explain how the internship in the bakery can equate to Algebra 2. If we want systemic change is the only way to truly transform the American high school.  Ms. Jobs seems to know this.  She says: “There is a huge gap between what students want for their future and what their schools are offering.  Once you have liberation from a system that was designed for the beginning of the century, there’s nobody to blame.” But the grant is unlikely to liberate anyone from the current education system.

Instead, I'd like to see Jobs and other private funders use their millions for long term change - fund better teacher training programs, lobby for policies that support teachers, create policy institutes that research and develop plans for systemic change.

Okay...alright I'll step off my soap box for a little fun for the other Found in Education tidbits this week.

The first is practical - I enjoyed this blog post by Elly Thornsen about setting up interactive notebooks. I'm trying INBs for the first time this year and found her explanation for dealing with the step by step logistics of INBs helpful.

Finally, because at the end of the day, everyone needs a little fun, I love this book/art installation.  Wouldn't it be fun to have student projects displayed in some way like this?

Found in Education is a weekly blog post on interesting ideas, tips, products, and stories related to education that I find over the week.  See something I should know about? Please send your ideas.  Comment here or leave me a message on Facebook, on Twitter, on Pinterest, or at the store.  



  1. Hey Doc, I like the measured way in which you approached the topic. It is indeed laudable that Jobs wants to make a difference and is putting up the cash, but until post-secondary opportunities expand and diversify radically, high school is still a narrow funnel and sieve which excludes too many qualified kids and restrains teacher and student creativity and learning. And yet, if you look at Teachers Pay Teachers and a lot of other outlets, there are a million people bringing passion and ideas to the classroom every day. Leverage that power through proper funding and support and a lot of things change for the better. Thanks for the post.

    1. Thanks Coach Christopher. And yes, I absolutely agree that there are so many creative things going on out there. I would love to see funding that allowed schools to propose what they need and then be funded. More on this next week with the new book about the Zuckerberg donation.


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