Laurene Powell Jobs doles out $100 million in bid to remake schools for high tech age

“Teachers at Washington Leadership Academy, one of the city’s newest charter high schools, long ago decided all students would learn chemistry. But they couldn’t afford a fully outfitted chemistry lab, let alone the services of a qualified teacher,” Greg Toppo reports for USA Today. “So they’re hiring developers to build a scientifically accurate, virtual-reality chemistry lab that someday, they hope, other schools can log on to — for free. They’ll develop it, test it out and then give it away.”

“The project is one of a handful being underwritten by an audacious new philanthropic effort led by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Her so-called XQ: The Super School Project is placing $10 million bets on 10 high schools over the next five years that she and others hope will spark experimentation nationwide,” Toppo reports. “Powell Jobs will be in Washington on Wednesday evening to unveil the 10 lucky schools funded through her charity, The Emerson Collective.”

“In an interview with USA Today, Powell Jobs said she was ‘humbled’ by the response to the competition, which received about 700 applications. She and others spent a year working with 348 teams in 98 districts nationwide, many of which will push to complete their work even without XQ’s funding, she and others said,” Toppo reports. “Powell Jobs said she hopes the 10 schools, as well as others that XQ plans to honor Wednesday, will serve as new models for next-generation U.S. high schools. ‘There’s enormous capacity for creativity within districts,’ she said.”

“The American high school could surely use a makeover. According to recent federal statistics, while U.S. high school graduation rates hit an all-time high in 2014 at 82.3%, the gap between African-American and white students remains stubbornly high at nearly 15 percentage points,” Toppo reports. “While 87.2% of white students graduate on time, only 72.5% of black students do the same. Among students for whom English is not their first language, the rate is even lower, at 62.6%.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Hopefully Jobs’ program begets improvements as the U.S. public education system could certainly use all the improvement it can get!

How Laurene Powell Jobs plans to reinvent U.S. education – April 5, 2016
Laurene Powell Jobs funds buyout of News Corp’s Amplify education company – November 23, 2015
Laurene Powell Jobs aligns against teachers unions; backs education reform, charter schools, vouchers – May 26, 2012
Laurene Powell Jobs helps change lives, too – October 7, 2011
A clearer picture of Steve Jobs’ thoughts on public education and teacher unions – February 21, 2007
Steve Jobs & Rush Limbaugh agree: U.S. public schools are ‘unionized in the worst possible way’ – February 20, 2007
Apple CEO blasts teacher unions, says US schools are ‘unionized in the worst possible way’ – February 16, 2007


  1. “The gap between African-American and white students remains stubbornly high at nearly 15 percentage points” for a reason: People are born with unequal mental abilities.

    There is no getting around certain large and troubling implications of black-white differences. The implications seem most troubling when you turn from the average differences and focus instead on the differences at the extreme — when you contrast the two overlapping bell-shaped distribution curves and look at the proportions in each group scoring above and below certain levels. If you tell yourself that the top professional and managerial jobs in this country require an IQ of at least 115 or thereabouts, then you also have to tell yourself that only about 2.5 percent of blacks appear able to compete for those jobs. The comparable figure for whites would be about 16 percent. Total black population with IQs over 115: 800,000. Comparable figure for whites: about 30 million. If blacks had the same IQ distribution as whites, the black total would be over 5 million.

    The data are even more depressing on the downside. An IQ in the 70-75 range, which many psychologists would label “borderline retarded,” implies a life that is guaranteed to be short of opportunities. Very few students in that range will absorb much of what elementary schools teach, and virtually none will graduate from high school; few will succeed in finding and keeping good jobs. None will be admitted into the armed forces (required by law to screen out the lowest ten percent of the distribution). The bad news is that a substantial minority — apparently more than one in five — of American blacks have IQs below 75. Around one in twenty whites are below 75.

    The black-white gap is 15 points when measured on the Wechsler tests, 18 on the Stanford-Binet. Both tests are, of course, normed so as to produce an average of 100, but the white average is a bit higher. On the Wechsler metric, whites and blacks average 102 and 87, respectively. On both tests, the gap between the races is almost exactly 1 SD (standard deviation). The gap of 1 SD has been observed since the earliest days of intelligence testing.

    There are also significant black-white differences in the structure of mental abilities. The test-score patterns show that the two groups are good at different things. On average, whites do better on all the subtests, but their margin of superiority varies considerably from one subtest to another. Or look at it this way: If you took a sample of black and white children, all of whom had scored around 100 on the WISC-R — that is, the black kids in the sample were above the black average — you would expect to find significant black-white differences on six of the thirteen subtests. The average black kid would do better on Arithmetic and Digit Span; the average white kid would do better on Comprehension, Block Design, Object Assembly, and Mazes …

    These subtest differences have one common theme, and its name is g. The tests on which the gap is greatest are those with the most g-loading — which means, in general, those that call most heavily on reasoning and problem-solving abilities. The June 1985 issue of The Behavioral and Brain Sciences carries a long report by Arthur Jensen analyzing eleven sizable studies of black-white IQ differences. The underlying data had been collected by different researchers at different times (but none before 1970). All the studies had several things in common: All were based on large population samples, all measured a broad range of mental abilities, and all included black-white breakdowns of their various subtests.

    In all eleven studies, Jensen found consistently strong positive correlations between the size of the black-white gap on subtests and the extent to which the subtests called on g … The correlation coefficient, after appropriate adjustments, appears to be well above .60.

    In other words, the black-white IQ gap is in large measure a reflection of differences in reasoning and problem-solving ability.

    This was not exactly news in 1985. Long before Jensen set out to quantify the “g effect” in black-white differences, it was generally well known that the differences were greatest in measures of abstract reasoning, not so great in measures of verbal skill, smallest of all in memory and rote learning.

    Daniel Seligman, A Question of Intelligence: The IQ Debate in America (New York: Birch Lane, 1992), 150-153

    1. Uh oh. Get ready for the knee-jerking Crooked Hillary Parkinson’s Deniers to call you “RACIST!!!” even though they have never read the book or have no understanding of The Bell Curve. It’s not “racist” to discuss scientific fact.

      1. I’ve read the book, and I saw many interviews and speaking engagements with Charles Murray when the book came out in 1994 (he was all over C-Span at the time), and I went into it with a completely open mind.

        The book is crap. His “science” is flawed.

        It’s not racist to study this and discuss it. However, the book itself is racist science, and anyone using it to further any agenda is either a racist or an idiot for not reading anything further to see why the book is such crap.

        The one good thing about the book is that far more has been written as a contrary reaction to the book and this makes for more honest and intelligent discussion.

        Anyone who wants an overview of the book should look at the following Wikipedia article about it rather than a look at flawed statistics taken out of context by some nutjob on MDN:

        For those not wanting to go through the full article, I’ll leave you with this:

        Evolutionary biologist Joseph L. Graves described The Bell Curve as an example of racist science, containing all the types of errors in the application of scientific method that have characterized the history of scientific racism:

        * Claims that are not supported by the data given.
        * Errors in calculation that invariably support the hypothesis.
        * No mention of data that contradict the hypothesis.
        * No mention of theories and data that conflict with core assumptions.
        * Bold policy recommendations that are consistent with those advocated by racists.

      2. Racist, Fisty? You???
        I would never call you a racist, you big lug!
        Fascist? Absolutely.
        Traitor? You Betcha!
        Slimy Guttersnipe? On the nosey!

        Can’t wait until you change your handle again. What year will it be this time?

          1. I’m can’t stand Hillary but how did Obama fuck everything up for 8 years when he inherited a world wide depression brought about by the banking system and wall street? We’re in a far better place now despite the GOP coming right out and saying that they would do everything thing they could to stand in the way of making things better?

            1. For reference, it’s called a recession, not depression. Obama will be the first President to ever leave office without having achieved at least one year of 3% GDP growth (CBO). Obama is likely to avg 1.55 and GW Bush’s avg was: 2.10. This speaks nothing of the other points of his stellar legacy such as record highs in welfare roles, unemployment rates, and his obsession to pass Obamacare (1/6 of budget), read: spending, on a project that’s failing. Insurance companies are fleeing and it is adding significantly to the deficit. Fed debt is estimated to be nearly 2x from date he came into office, btw. I’m not a GWB fan.

          1. My writing is prompted by the one note Mr. Fist, who feels it’s his civic duty to inject his warped views on every FoxDailyNews article. It gets old. I truly pity the fool.
            BIG HUGS, MR. FISTY! xoxoxoxo

            (Mac user since 1990)

  2. Pigment is not related to brainpower. There are no studies that can link the two. Poor education and poverty however can be directly linked to poor academic performance and high dropout rates.

    If your parents and your friends and neighbours are poorly educated so that you have few role models, you too will likely be poorly educated. Role models do not have to have the same colour of skin to be effective either. The main thing that is needed is to cultivate a strong belief in yourself and your abilities and opportunities. I have taught electrical engineering in Canada and in Saudi Arabia. The Arabs were equally capable as my Canadian students but the Arabs did not believe that they would ever be capable or have a meaningful job. They were used to being hired as a result of the law that companies must hire 40% Saudi and because there were no Saudis who were trained, these companies hire Saudis to sit in an office as a ‘supervisor’ and hire an expatriate to ‘assist’ them. The Saudis take credit for the work done by the expats and often don’t even show up for work. The issue isn’t intelligence, skin colour or opportunity but is actually a problem of belief in themselves.

  3. How convenient to leave out the Asian population. It seems like everytime a kid surfaces with a perfect SAT score, an IQ over 200, or graduates from Harvard at 13yo, it’s usually someone from Asia or India. Again, not because of pigmentation, but these societies put a heavy emphasis on education.

  4. Good for her. I hope this help not just the schools that win but eventually the work gets shares amongst all schools. I am ex military and support the need for a strong military but if the money from just 2 supper weapons was put into schools each year we could fund something like to annually.

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