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Emmaline Cotter
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When in Need of a Celebration
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A New Tale of Noodles
Jin Chang
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A Determined Swing
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Yet Another Thing about Pokemon GO
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The Typewriter Renaissance
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The Impossible Reading Lists of Summer
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Happy Sushi Day! How About Some Sacrilegious Asparagus?
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A Compendium of Beloved Blogs from the Literary Food Community
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Dean Wong "Seeing the Light" Book Launch at Wing Luke Museum
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Spoonbill & Sugartown in NYC
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Open Call: Submit to Ghosts of Seattle Past until April 30th
Cali Kopczick
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Ghosts of Seattle Past: Irish Wake for Lost Spaces
Allison Dunn
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Week of Literary Love: Jay Gatsby
Allison Dunn
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Week of Literary Love: Grendel's Mother
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Week of Literary Love: Victor Frankenstein
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Week of Literary Love: Lady Macbeth
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Our discomfort with language
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Go see The Martian!
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A Katrina Scavenger Hunt
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Hurricane Story revisited
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Five Essential Post Katrina Albums
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A Visit to Minidoka
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Open Letter to the place called "Mushaboom"
TexMex Richards
30 June , 2015 (1)

TexMextern Reviews: Masculinity in the Time of Cholera
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SIFF Special: Most Likely to Manipulate
David Rutledge
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TexMextern Reviews: Reviews with a Zest!
TexMex Richards
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A Tale of Two Noodles
Dandi Meng
11 May, 2015 (3)

It's Time We Started Talking About Endpapers
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Spine Poetry
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CMP Presents...12 by M. Lynch
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Week of Literary Love: Bartleby the Scrivener
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14 February, 2015 (0)

Week of Literary Love: Jean Valjean
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Week of Literary Love: Katniss Everdeen
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Week of Literary Love: Holden Caulfield
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Literary Showdown: Seattle vs. Boston
Dandi Meng
3 February , 2015 (2)

It's Time We Started Talking About Section Break Markers
Cali Kopczick
19 December, 2014 (2)

Short Run Festival Recap
Cali Kopczick
November 26, 2014 (0)

Selling Culture: Japan and America's Trickiest Trade
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History's Bestsellers in Translation Part II: Nonfiction
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China/Seattle/Reykjavík: Ryan Boudinot on Seattle as a Global City of Literature
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BuzzFeed Article - 8 Reasons Japanese Ghosts Make Terrible Roommates
Cali Kopczick
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History's Bestsellers in Translation Part I: Fiction
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Ramen Revisited: Tips from Ken Taya aka Enfu
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Kodawari Can Render the Prosaic Profound
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August 27, 2014 (0)

Before the Summer Runs Out: A Road Trip Proposal
Cali Kopczick
August 19, 2014 (12)

The High Art of Smelling Books
Cali Kopczick
August 4, 2014 (1)

Pike Place Location Opening and Lizard Telepathy Fox Telepathy Open House
Staff
July 28, 2014 (1)

Indie Book Publisher Opens Office/Retail Space in Seattle's Pike Place Market
Press Release
July 16, 2014 (0)

Q&A with "A Commonplace Book of Pie" Author Kate Lebo and Illustrator Jessica Lynn Bonin
David Jacobson
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A Broadside for Mardi Gras
Bruce Rutledge
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Oprah Outs Armstrong; Irvin Mayfield Next?
Rex Noone
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Friends of CMP
Bruce Rutledge
November 21, 2012 (0)

Nippon-NOLA challenge: week 3
Bruce Rutledge
October 24, 2012 (2)

The NOLA-Nippon challenge: week 2
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October 6, 2012, 2012 (0)

The NOLA-Nippon challenge
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Infusing Nonfiction with Truth: American True Stories
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Questions rain down on NOLA
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En-Joying Kanji: A Review of Eve Kushner's Joy o' Kanji
David Jacobson
May 24, 2012 (1)

Michael Rozek Redefines Nonfiction
Bruce Rutledge
April 19, 2012 (3)

Viewed Sideways: a collection of essays by Donald Richie
D. Michael Ramirez II
December 30, 2011 (0)

New Orleans Book Fest
Bruce
November 4, 2011 (0)

Review: The Beautiful One Has Come (Suzanne Kamata)
D. Michael Ramirez II
August 12, 2011 (0)

The JET Program's Finest Hour
David Jacobson
July 9, 2011 (0)

And the winner is ...
Bruce Rutledge
July 5, 2011 (0)

An even dozen: slow books in a fast world
Bruce Rutledge
June 29, 2011 (1)

Last Chapter for an Island Bookstore?
David Jacobson
June 24, 2011 (0)

More than just another 'Kawaii' face
Bruce Rutledge
June 16, 2011 (0)

Hurricane Story - Free Offer!
Dave Jacobson
June 9, 2011 (0)

Books for Katrina-hit New Orleans Schools
David Jacobson
May 25, 2011 (0)

Todd Shimoda wins Hawaii's top literary award
Chin Music Press
April 12, 2011 (1)

"The Apprenticeship of Big Toe P": A Review
Will Eells
March 28, 2011 (0)

A great sorrow
Bruce Rutledge
March 25, 2011 (1)

Blog Entry
SIFF Special: Most Likely to Manipulate
David Rutledge
June 5, 2015

High Tech High in San DiegoHigh Tech High in San Diego


“A way to privatize the system is, first of all, make it non-functional: underfunded, so it is not functional, and then people don't like it so it is handed over to what are called charter schools ...That way you get rid of the general commitment of the public to solidarity and mutual support: the thinking that I ought to care whether the kid across the street can go to school …” – Noam Chomsky


Most Likely to Succeed is a deceptive documentary about High Tech High, an innovative charter school in San Diego, funded (in part) by Irwin Jacobs, the billionaire founder of Qualcomm. The Qualcomm website puts it this way: “Nurturing young minds is important to Jacobs, who funds High Tech High, a growing network of schools focused on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education.”  According to the film, Qualcomm was unable to find qualified workers for its expanding business, so it decided to create schools that could produce such workers.  This is portrayed as an enlightened and benevolent development in American education.

The film develops a strong argument against the mind-numbing classroom atmosphere that results from a focus on standardized tests.  It then presents an educational format that replaces such tests with creative, student-based approaches.  Most of the film shows students at work on creative projects, with teachers standing to the side, guiding at times, never lecturing.  Students are shown to be much more than passive receptors of information.  This aspect of the film is convincing: for students to be successful they must be engaged in their own education.  

One review says, “Each teacher is given complete freedom in the classroom separate from state-mandated requirements such as standardized testing.”  The movie sure makes it seem that way.  However, High Tech High does pay attention to Common Core.  The film presents a test-free atmosphere, while the school website shows otherwise.

In addition, the film briefly mentions that the teachers rely on one-year contracts.  I would argue that no employee who relies on being rehired annually can truly feel that he or she has “complete freedom.”  I suppose one could also claim these teachers have “complete freedom” not to have a union, a hallmark of our charter schools.  The United Federation of Students explains:  “Corporate elements like the New York City Charter School Center and the New York Charter Schools Association, funded by Wal-Mart’s Walton Foundation and various hedge funds, have captured a significant portion of the charter school movement and are using it to promote their ideological goals: privatizing public education and breaking the power of teacher unions.”  The film depicts content and motivated educators, with no complaints about their below-average salaries. 

This leads us to the role of Bill Gates and his foundation.  In the q&a session after a recent showing of this film in Seattle, I asked the director, Greg Whiteley, how High Tech High is funded.  In addition to saying something about each student receiving eight thousand dollars in public funds, he said the Bill Gates Foundation donated one million dollars; he then shrugged that off, saying that money is actually being spent on other schools.

Whiteley’s response is disingenuous, at best.  A Businessweek article about the Gates Foundation and education discusses “the $17 million their foundation has sunk into San Diego's High Tech High since 2000.”  Why does this film, promoting the wonders of charter school education, hide the influence of Bill Gates?

Most Likely to Succeed is, at best, a series of lies by omission or, at worst, a skillful work of propaganda for charter schools.

My sense is that it is the latter: propaganda for a corporate-based form of education.

The idyllic version of charter schools, as presented by this manipulative film, is simply false – not to mention the fact that they brag about not having books.  Is that the future – a STEM education that eliminates culture and attempts to turn our young people into good workers?  In one quick scene of the film, there is commentary on how useless it is to know Shakespeare; in another, there is the suggestion that High Tech High is better for a student’s “soul.”

High Tech High – aka Qualcomm Prep – may have some benefits, as long as your kid is one of the few who are able to win the “lottery” that allows entrance into the school.   

If your kid loses that lottery, there’s always Wal-Mart High.  Or maybe McDonald’s will create McHigh, where your sons and daughters can learn to work the friers or articulate, “Can I take your order, please?”

There might even be a public school, with books, sports and music, a school that your neighbors can all attend without relying on the luck of the lottery.



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