TWO NEW S'COOLS: The folks down in SoCal just got a little cooler with the addition of two new high schools that are bucking the trend of most charter school development. USC Hybrid High opened its doors this week to 100 ninth graders. Developed by the USC Rossier School of Education and located in close proximity to USC, Hybrid High is unique not only because of it's research-grounded design, but in its explicit decision to situate itself for the most at-risk students while shooting for 0% dropout and 100% graduation rates. It plans to remain open year-round, seven days a week, and up to 10 hours a day.
A world away in Santa Monica, the Gamedesk Playmaker School opens its doors today to 60 sixth graders. Operating on a "school within a school" model (located within New Roads Independent School), Gamedesk is facilitating a games-based curriculum that includes Mathmaker, DreamLab, Dojo, and Motion Math In-Class -- all of which are either recent software products or are projects developed by the non-profit. (The plan was announced last spring.)
Both schools are supported at least in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (yup, we're on the tab, too) which raises interesting questions around philanthropic efforts to close the "achievement gap." We're genuinely excited with each school's efforts to improve and advance best practices in formal education, but it's difficult to imagine Hybrid High students "closing the gap" on the Playmakers. It should be enough that each school has specific goals and expectations for its students, but today's politics dictate differently. What do you think? Tell us your thoughts.