Why Carnegie is on a Mission to Make High School Suck Less

It's ironic that much of the energy of the education reform movement is directed at elementary and middle schools given that it's high school that many of us recall with dread or remember simply as a big waste of time.

So it always gives us pleasure to check in on the Carnegie Corporation's ongoing effort to reinvent high school, a juicy target for a national ed funder with plenty of muscle.  

Recently, Carnegie awarded $3 million over three years to the Rekindling the Dream Foundation, a support organization and fiscal agent of the public school system in Providence, Rhode Island, in support of the foundation's efforts to transform secondary schools under the Opportunity by Design (ObD) initiative.

Carnegie already has significant market share in the high school design market with its Springpoint initiative, which operates in four major urban districts already—Cleveland, Denver, New York City and Philadelphia. They are now expanding their reach in this domain, albeit in a less directive fashion, to Providence as well. It's a city ripe for new reforms, given a recent surge in political will and resources as expressed and delivered by local leaders such as Mayor Angel Taveras.

Providence’s Rekindling the Dream Foundation has also received funding recently for smaller, topical projects such as the expansion of an urban farming initiative with support coming from the Rhode Island Foundation and the Local Sustainability Matching Fund. That project will allow the City of Providence to turn vacant, city-owned property into productive urban farms that bring fresh produce to neighborhoods while providing opportunities for school garden-based curriculum integration in Providence schools.

Beyond Providence, Springpoint, the Carnegie-funded school design initiative, is on the verge of welcoming a second cohort of design teams in a few yet-to-be-named cities across the nation in the coming weeks.

Carnegie’s big bet here is on mastery-based curricula, design thinking and personalization as the future of learning at the secondary school level. The proof will be in the forthcoming pudding as a number of schools in the aforementioned cities launch this fall and in the fall of 2015, underwritten by Carnegie and guided by their ObD design principles.

Cool stuff.