News / USA

President Obama to Visit Acclaimed Technology High School in Texas

Logo of  Manor New Technology High School in a suburb of Austin, Texas.Logo of Manor New Technology High School in a suburb of Austin, Texas.
x
Logo of  Manor New Technology High School in a suburb of Austin, Texas.
Logo of Manor New Technology High School in a suburb of Austin, Texas.
TEXT SIZE - +
Greg Flakus
— U.S. President Barack Obama will visit Manor New Technology High School in a suburb of Austin, the capital of Texas, Thursday to launch what the White House is calling a "Middle Class Jobs and Opportunity Tour."  The school has gained nationwide recognition for its program that focuses on math, science and engineering, which are seen as key areas for future job growth.  But, it is the teaching style as much as the curriculum that counts.

Demand for high technology workers is growing at a rate much higher than other fields, and recent studies have shown students in the United States lagging behind in those subjects.  To address this problem, schools like Manor New Technology High School use a curriculum called STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

But the school also uses an innovative approach to teaching, focusing on projects that engage the students rather than on teacher lectures.  Most of the science and math teachers who helped launch Manor New Technology High School six years ago and remain there are graduates of the innovation-oriented UTeach program at the University of Texas in Austin, which is co-directed by Lawrence Abraham.

"They put together the curriculum, which has elevated this school, among all the new tech schools in the network around the country, to be the premier site, and we think it is the marriage of the UTeach program, which prepares teachers and encourages teachers to teach in a project-based way, with the new tech curriculum model, which is designed to incorporate that," said Abraham.

Of Manor New Technology's 332 students, 68 percent are from ethnic or racial minorities, and 52 percent are from economically disadvantaged families.  Overall in the United States, these are groups whose education levels tend to be low and dropout rates tend to be high.  But this school sent 97 percent of its graduates to college in 2011 and all of its graduates in 2012.

But these schools count on special federal and state funding as well as support from private foundations that most schools do not have. There also is concern about neglect of the arts and social sciences.  Last year, Florida Governor Rick Scott stirred debate by proposing an end to state funding of university programs in subjects like psychology and anthropology, in order to put more money into STEM programs that he said would provide people with jobs.

But educators say that kind of thinking misses the point of what can be accomplished by innovative, inter-disciplinary teaching.  Jeremi Suri, a University of Texas professor of history, says the goal of education goes beyond preparation for employment.

"Obviously science and math literacy are crucial, but democratic citizenship requires that people have a sense of our historical background as a society, a sense of how our society functions and an understanding of what democracy looks like in theory and in practice," said Suri.

Suri says success in the workplace today more than ever depends on good communication, an ability to work well with others in a team effort and an understanding of cultures.

Lawrence Abraham agrees, noting that the UTeach program favors an integrated, team-teaching approach that encourages students to explore a vast array of material.  As an example, he cites a class he observed at Manor New Technology High School.

"They basically were studying and reconstructing the early [ancient] Egyptian tools that were used to build the pyramids, studying the engineering principles involved, but also the social, cultural dynamic of the time," he said. "This appreciation of sociology, history, the arts, is something that is blended into this program."

Programs like UTeach at the University of Texas are helping develop better teachers and also struggling to keep up with the demand for more of them.  Studies indicate U.S. schools will need to increase the number of graduates proficient in mathematics and science by 34 percent annually just to keep up with the demand from employers.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid