Archived Story

Niles is New Tech demonstration site

Published 6:45pm Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Hundreds of people could be coming to Niles next year as Niles New Tech Entrepreneurial Academy has been selected as a national demonstration site for the New Tech Network.

“It’s a big honor,” said Niles New Tech Director Jerry Holtgren, who received word of the selection a couple weeks ago.

It is rare, Holtgren said, for a first-year program such as Niles New Tech to be designated as a national demonstration site.

“We are one of a few,” he said.

Being a national demonstration site means other schools will visit Niles to see how it is implementing the New Tech program.

Holtgren said schools have visited Niles New Tech in the past, but now that Niles is a demonstration site, visiting schools will have to pay the district a stipend. He isn’t sure how much though.

Holtgren anticipates visitors will also patronize local businesses while in town, giving at least a small boost to the local economy.

He expects the designation will give Niles Community Schools national publicity.

Niles New Tech went through an extensive application process to become a demonstration site.

Holtgren said the school was chosen based on the positive results produced in its first year.

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  • gcasey1505

    It is absolutely insane that the community continues to regard New Tech as a worth-while investment. But with such blatantly positive news coverage by the Daily Star with a lack of dimension and perspective, I guess we can’t really blame anybody.

    I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again and again: the fundamental problem is this- we are in a global economy; after college, students at Niles are going to competing with students in China, Japan, France, Britain, and Canada for jobs. Whether we like it or not, these students’ job choices are going to depend on the prestige and educational magnitude of their college. Which college they go to all depends on their performance in high school and the classes offered to them. (Can we say linear relationships—I think so!)

    The curriculum that is being taught at New Tech (and even the regular Niles High School) is not going to prepare students for the rigorous academic lifestyle that is college, period. It is of the utmost irresponsibility to continue to fund New Tech endeavors over AP, IB, and honors classes. The regular high school can’t even afford to buy basic Microsoft Office software; they’re still running on Windows XP for crying out loud!

    Why don’t we take New Tech money and improve the regular high school? Let’s revamp the curriculum; try for another millage for infrastructure improvement; why don’t we refocus our attention on career-focused classes like Accounting, Marketing, Law, biological sciences, etc.

    Besides, is national publicity really the best thing for this school system right now? A dysfunctional administrative bureaucracy, a brutal teacher union/school board battle, sub-par test scores, budget deficits, and a failing infrastructure. If I was a member of the administrative body, the last thing I would want is the country looking at me – it’s embarrassing.

  • JCB55

    What positive results? I am a student at Niles High School and as far as I am considered New Tech failed its first year. I would like to see data backing up this so called “positive results.” As a regular high school student at Niles High School I must say we have been forgotten about. New Tech is all the school board cares about it seems. Since New Tech is taking up another hall next year teachers are having to move again. The very productive Robotics team is losing its location to an English class room next year. New Tech as not benefited Niles High School students whatsoever, it has taken away classes, stressed out their teachers and caused them to lose out on opportunities they previously had, such as more electives to choose from. I agree with gcasey1505, we should invest not into New Tech, but into the High School.

  • http://www.facebook.com/#!/kbtonkin Kevin Tonkin

    All the higher education wont help one bit unless there are JOBS! Ask the recent college grads if they are finding any work they went to school for. Not around here at least.

  • Community Supporter

    Good questions. Lets look at some facts and leave the opinions as they realy are. Opinions.

    •97% Graduation rate
    •67% Students applied to college
    •98% Students Acceptance rate to 2 or 4 year colleges
    •New Tech Students averaged 1375 SAT and 21.1 ACT scores
    •47% Students on Free Reduced lunch
    Source: http://www.newtechnetwork.org

    • Attendance 95.6% vs. 94.6% traditional
    • Out of school suspensions 10% vs. 13.1%
    • New Tech students out-performed both comparison schools and all high schools statewide in both Algebra I and English 10 ECAs, with a greater percent of New Tech students passing these assessments.
    • Partnerships with local organizations enabled students to take advantage of more authentic, 21st-century learning experiences. In fact, several partnerships have resulted in students being recruited for internships and other work with local organizations.
    • The “Trust, Respect, Responsibility” ethos created a close-knit, family-like atmosphere where teachers and students could have more positive, meaningful interactions. It also enabled teachers to instill a sense of autonomy, responsibility, and professionalism among students.
    • Students were required to demonstrate competency in 21st Century Skills including collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills to succeed while teachers supported student learning through scaffolding techniques used to meet each student’s individual needs.
    Source: University of Indianapolis – Center of Excellence in Leadership Learning. http://cell.uindy.edu

  • Dave Fisher

    Do kids have to attend new tech to get the “Trust, Respect, Responsibility” ethos ? One would hope that is fostered in all students. What is the criteria for attending “New Tech”? Is it based on GPA? Politics?

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for advancements in education as long as the “meat & potatoes” aren’t all that is offered others.

    With all the renovations being paid from the sinking fund it seems the masses are being cheated to benefit just a portion of the systems students. Is it just me or is public education nowadays drawing strong parallels with the worlds oldest profession? It’s all about the headcount so everybody is adding makeup to appear the best option.

    Look at this website, “ADVERTISEMENT” for NCS? Maybe that’s where the “Teacher retirements and resignations holding steady” type articles derive from? Spin it any way you want folks! If it walks like a duck…..

  • louisianas

    I have a relative who attends New Tech. She genuinely enjoys the education and processes that go along with it and the cooperative atmosphere. She would not be flourishing as much in a typical high school arena. I think it is advantageous for a school to offer multiple learning styles and opportunity like the high school does to help people. We often hear about New Tech, but they also offer the Health Careers Academy, the Math and Science Center and several vocational programs. My husband and I, both local graduates (Niles and Eau Claire), benefited from programs such as these when we were in high school (Math and Science Center).
    The vocational programs at Niles let a graduate be employed as soon as they graduate. My sister is employed full time with benefits, licensed in her field at 18 years old because of the co-op programs at Niles.
    What does this have to do with New Tech? The fact that the more ways available for someone to learn, the better off we are as a town, because all of our students, not just the ones who will prosper with traditional teaching, will have skills the next step in life, whether that is college, vocational school or a career.
    And I do wish they would try for another millage to update things, but it is difficult when people against upgrading the town often have a louder presence than those who have chosen to be here and want a wonderful town.
    P.S. About jobs in the area, we are all employed locally in fairly high demand fields. It is really about going for training a skill that has jobs, not hoping that a factory or lower skilled arena is going to magically appear and pay $20 a hour for the next 40 years. That era of the economy is long gone. We need to focus on all students have a marketable trade or skill, whether college based or not.

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