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Enrollment at New York City’s K-12 schools is surging, and there is more demand for public
education than ever. Meanwhile, the city’s fiscal crisis has put the Department of Education’s
budget on the chopping block, with drastic reductions proposed — cutting programs, eliminating
extracurriculars, and threatening laying off teachers. With more students registering for classes
and its operating budget slashed, the DOE’s future is in jeopardy.
But this morning, the Daily News reported that an anonymous donor has just bequeathed $1
billion dollars to the DOE, with the sole stipulation that the funds be used for the development of
a new experimental high school. This is enough money to fund the high school’s construction
and cover its entire operating budget for the next 20 years.
Imagine you’ve been hired by the DOE to chair the commission that will design the new school.
Chancellor Meisha Porter wants your advice on every aspect of the school from its physical
layout, to entrance requirements, to employment practices, to curriculum and pedagogy. You’ve
been given complete and total leeway, and Porter tells you she’s interested in experimenting with
new and innovative ways of learning. Your task is to prepare a preliminary report, which will be
submitted to the chancellor and the mayor for review. Keep in mind, money is no obstacle, so
you can be as inventive as you want, but make sure to include explanations for all of your
Here are some of the items you may wish to cover. These are just suggestions, you are not
required (or expected) to include every one.
Schools come in all shapes and sizes. What will the school look like? How will the building be
organized? Will the building include a performing arts center, student meeting spaces, a gym, or
any other specialized facilities? You may wish to enclose a map.
Will teachers be issued standardized textbooks, or will they have the freedom to implement their
own lesson plans? Will course offerings consist mainly of “pre-professional” programs, or a
broader liberal arts curriculum? Will there be any required courses, or will students be allowed
to take whatever they want?
Will the school provide teachers with job security and tenure protections? How will teachers be
compensated? How will teachers be evaluated and promoted? What position will the school
take with regard to academic unions? Will the school include students and faculty in academic
What would a “typical” class session look like at your new school? Which pedagogical
techniques and teaching styles will your teachers use? Will the classes consist primarily of
lecture or discussion? Will you arrange the seats in convention rows or in some other formation?
What kind of instructional technology will be made available? What philosophy of education
will you adopt? Will the courses even take place in traditional classrooms?
Will students be evaluated with letter grades, written assessments, or some other way? Will tests
be administered, and if so what will they measure?
Entrance and Degree Requirements
What will be the criteria for admissions? Will there be any entrance requirements at all?
Likewise, how will you determine who is allowed to graduate?
How will your school confront the various dimensions of inequality covered in this class (race,
class, gender, sexuality, ability, geography, etc)? What kinds of programs or initiatives will it use
to empower disadvantaged students and strive toward equality?
Be as creative as you want!!!!!