School of the
The Philadelphia School of the Future, built through a partnership between the school district and Microsoft, opened its doors
on September 8, 2006 to an inaugural freshman class of 170 students chosen by lottery, from largely
low-income families around the city. The School of the Future is the first such high school to be built and completed under a school district's
budget nearly $63 million to build from the ground up. Philadelphia school planners aim to spend the same amount on the School of the Future as other
high schools in the district. Microsoft contributed to the project by donating the time and skills of its project managers, rather than equipment and software.
They integrates technology throughout the school to teach urban students hailing from all backgrounds and skill levels.
The school opens at a time when the digital divide continues to be a national concern. Many more white children have access to the Internet at
home and school than do black or Hispanic students, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Education, and that discrepancy could prove a setback to
underprivileged children. The School of the Future could help level the playing
field, given its student population is 99 percent black.
The School of Future will house approximately 800
students who will encounter such features as one-on-one computing in a wireless environment,
smart cards they can use for everything from the cafeteria to the interactive learning center, a home and school broadband connection, and a digital format
for all paperwork and processes. Teachers and administrators will have instant access to student assessment progress through a digital dashboard, while daily
functions will become more cost-efficient through Web-based procurement and online human resources tools for time reporting and payroll management.
Parents can access information on their child's progress or school lunch schedule. Kids can download homework, read required books, study new languages or take pop quizzes.
The school's mission is the desire to embed research and development
methods into the daily curriculum, so that teachers and students are constantly investigating and discovering new instructional
practices that will improve student achievement. As part of the commitment to develop a high-performance yet sustainable
learning environment, the building itself is being developed in accordance with the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building
Rating System. The school will be eco-friendly, utilizing natural lighting, water conservation and recycling. Blending the learning and architectural
design elements, photoelectric glass will not only generate a portion of the building's power supply but also will transmit real-time data for students so
they can see how much energy is being generated and the positive impact on the environment.
"By using the tools of today to improve our education system we can better
prepare our students for tomorrow," said Paul Vallas, CEO of the School
District of Philadelphia. "The true integration of technology and training that will take place here in Philadelphia will create the connections and
partnerships necessary to develop the 21st-century skills of our students."
Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street said "Strengthening public education is a prime ingredient in our quest to grow
the city's economy and enhance the quality of life for our citizens."
"Education is the great equalizer, because knowledge is truly power, and when it is delivered to
students through technology-rich environments their potential is unlimited."
said James Nevels, Chairman of the School Reform Commission.