By: Sebastian Golden
Hey there, d.tech student. What’s your dream job? A programmer at Oracle? A software engineer at Google? Maybe you want to found a startup to bring virtual reality to blockchain. If so, great. If not, you’re out of line with the rest of the school, according to the media. As The New York Times wrote back in December, “Big Silicon Valley companies have been in a race to shape students’ education and use schools to train their next generation of workers,” going on to say “But until now, none has put public school students a short walk from the chief executive.” A Huffington Post blog entry alleged “There is reason to question whether [Oracle Board Chair Larry] Ellison has the best interests of public schools at heart.” Even less pointed views suggest Oracle has undue influence over d.tech: according to IT journal eWEEK, “Another added long-term benefit of such a school is the prospect of it becoming a ‘farm team’ for future Oracle employees—which could very well become a reality.”
As students at d.tech, we know these slanted articles and snarky blog posts claiming we’re all turning into Oracle employees are simply not true. But it’s easy to understand why an outsider might think that — because that’s the image the school puts forward.
Consciously or unconsciously, the administration has prioritized unique opportunities for STEM-oriented students. The school, with its 8,000-square foot design realization garage, is literally built to best accommodate these students, while other programs have no dedicated facilities. And while activities like journalism and art can be done in regular classrooms, music, dance, and theater need their own rehearsal and performance spaces, with stages, lighting, and sound. None of these were included in the new building, and the fact that the design team went out of their way to include such an incredible space for engineering without addressing the passions and interests of other students speaks to a culture that is slowly being forced onto the student body.
There is a multitude of reasons why students choose to come to d.tech. They may enjoy the personalized pacing, the creative freedom within the curriculum, or the individual attention unavailable at other schools; STEM learning opportunities and Oracle-run classes are just a few among them. But because of the uneven allocation of resources and the brand being built around our school, prospective students won’t see the full scope of the school and what sets us apart. Eventually, this could easily lead to more and more tech-focused students enrolling, while those who aren’t as interested in STEM fields could shy away because they aren’t aware of d.tech’s true nature.
d.tech’s mission statement is pretty clear. The website states “At d.tech, we believe that students are most successful when their education is personalized to their needs, and they are asked to use their knowledge to improve the world around them.” Yet whenever d.tech is reported on in the news, that message fails to come across. Outside parties may be the ones spreading this misinformed impression of our school, but it’s up to the faculty, the administration, and yes, even the students, to set them right. d.tech needs to be conscious of its brand, and shape it to portray an accurate picture. We need to emphasize that we’re a different type of high school not because we’re training students to work in the tech industry, but because we have a truly unique style of education. We need to highlight our personalized learning on the website, in communications with the press, and on school tours.
d.tech has a wonderful, diverse school community. We’re genuinely a unique school, where students can learn their own way and pursue their passions. But if the school doesn’t take steps to preserve and invest in our true culture, and broadcast who we really are to the world, we risk becoming the Oracle training ground The New York Times seems to think we are.