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March 20, 2005

Fiddling While Rome Burns - A Proposal for A Cleveland Terminal Tower Electronic Village and Science and Technology School

Tonight, the curtain comes down on the last screening of this year's brilliant 29th annual Cleveland International Film Festival. One of my all time favorite films is Quo Vadis (1951) with a superb Peter Ustinov playing Nero who of course fiddles while Rome burns and wonders just before he is killed why no one loves him. If there were ever a call for a remake of this classic, Cleveland would have it share of candidates for the role of Nero. The powerful and imperial, those destined to immortality and greatness in the annals of our city, all share a modern "nero complex" as it relates to the future of our City. As the Greater Cleveland Partnership has coined the term, "Cleveland is on the Edge." Candidates for the role of Nero abound. Dire predictions and pyromaniacs ready to throw fuel on the flames are a dime a dozens. If we don't build a Convention Center.... If we don't turn the Flats into Charity Poker and Gaming Facilities... and so forth. If it were easy, we would be following a tried and true cook book. The fact that there is dialogue in our city about its future is very healthy. We need more engaged conversation and the major actors in the scene should not only be politicians and developers. Indeed, the most important opportunity that presents itself today is the future of our schools. How can Cleveland's politicians, developers, educators, and concerned parents and citizens build on the efforts underway within the public school system to prepare students for success in the 21st century?

Success should be measured by student passion for learning and family support for and engagements with the life of the mind. We have remarkable institutional and human assets in Cleveland that are not fully optimized to this goal. Indeed, many of our most important 20th century assets like our downtown library, museums, office towers, transportation and telecommunication infrastructure could be, indeed should be, repurposed for the needs of a 21st century digital city.

Over the past year or so, a couple of colleagues in the OneCleveland initiative have circulated a bold and potentially transformational proposal to create The Cleveland Terminal Tower Electronic Village and Science and Technology School. The eVillage will be a 400 student -- technology and science magnet school in the heart of downtown Cleveland.

Located in the heart of the City, the School will be part of a unique science and technology environment including a state-of-the-art science library facility at the downtown Cleveland Library, a state-of-the-art science lab at the Great Lakes Science center with curricular and lab support from NASA Glenn, Cleveland State, Tri-C, and Case, and state-of-the-art technology internships and placements associated with activities of the City of Cleveland and OneCleveland based in the downtown core.

The goal of the School is to:

* improve the quality of science and technology curriculum in the CMSD

* attract and retain families in Cleveland on the basis of the magnet school serving families and their students interested science and technology education.

* establish a positive proof of collaborative community engagement in urban America to raise education standards and the future of the nation's science and technology workforce.

The vision of the Terminal Tower Electronic Village and Science and Technology School is to establish a national model for school-based service learning in which teams of students will be assigned "clients" which allow the students to integrate curriculum with technology and allow clients to receive supervised and contextually rich technology deliverables.

Physically situated in the heart of Cleveland, accessible via public transportation from all over the City, the Terminal Tower Electronic Village and School will, over time, be able to support a selective admissions policy among deserving and capable students. In addition, Tri-C, Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland State University would be asked to actively work with the Cleveland Scholarship Program explore making up to 5 scholarships each, per year, to qualified students graduating at the top of their class for a complete 4 year degree, valued in total to more than $500,000 per year (per cohort of 5).

In addition to master teachers in scientific and technological subject matter from industry, colleges, museums, and the school district, the school curriculum tied to State Standards, all subject matter will be informed by an experiential, hands-on learning environment that will involve project-based outcomes informed by student competencies in subject mater and represented through multimedia, digital media recording, animation, computer programming and other technology-related skills.

Another unique aspect of the Terminal Tower Electronic Village is the relationship between the curriculum, the technology and its corporate sponsors. Situated physically in the same facility are some of the nation's largest telecommunications companies. In addition, a top ten list of technology vendors, representing strategic technology partnerships has been identified. In addition to investments in the Village, technology partners will provide students with applied environments for summer internships and after school opportunities. In addition, technology partners will be asked to recruit as many as 5 graduating students from the School. Finally, corporate sponsors will explore setting up a "stay in school" College Fund, providing 5 graduating students with scholarships of up to $10,000/year to be applied towards either Cleveland State University or Case Western Reserve University.

Another significant differentiator to the Terminal Tower School is the commitment to leverage the unique laboratory assets of the Great Lakes Science Center to become an integral feature of the science curriculum. Not only is the Great Lakes Science Center an amazing physical resource with its own considerable education assets, but through partnerships to be developed and enhanced with NASA Glenn, the Center will be one of the finest School labs in the United States of America.

Finally, the City of Cleveland, Cleveland State University, the Cleveland Municipal School District, Cuyahoga County, and Case Western Reserve University have more than 100,000 sq feet of IT data centers and machine rooms in the downtown corridor. In a collaborative effort with these major IT assets, the School curriculum and hands on experiential learning framework could provide its students with a unique applied environment. Students both at the University-Level and the High School Level will form mentoring teams and be assigned to opportunities in the area of operations, systems management, network engineering, database administration and technical architecture.

Future planning considerations involve possible collaboration with the RTA on developing a transportation academy for the 21st century (again strategically situated at Terminal Tower), a public service and technology academy coordinated with public safety, water, and other leading technology-based departments from the City of Cleveland, working relationships with the Rock Hall of Fame, NASA, Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Sheraton/Marriott, the United Way, Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Institute of Art, Convention and Visitor's Bureau, West Side Market, along with Community Technology Centers.

With proposed corporate support from Forest City, Key Bank, National City Bank, SBC, Sprint, Adelphia, Qualcom, Verizon, Oracle, Sun, IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, Intel, Blackboard, Dell Computers, and EMC, just to mention a few prospects, the Cleveland Terminal Tower Electronic Village and School is a unique opportunity to:

* Revitalize downtown Cleveland
* To enable education to be an engine of clean economic growth for Cleveland
* To enable collaboration and cooperation among the education assets in the community
* To mobilize the community around an exciting, bold, and transformational effort
* To support workforce preparation
* Adult High School Evening program and "back to work" programs
* To spawn downtown smart and green housing opportunities
* To create upstream and downstream economic opportunities
* To advance the OneCleveland digital infrastructure initiative to wire all of Cleveland
* To approach technology knowledge acquisition in the deliberative context of an urban setting
* A replicable model for the nation on making good on the digital promise
* Creating technology vendor and public education partnerships that are based on mutual interest

I'm looking for a couple good players ready to help re-write history and take on the 21st century Neros. Drop me a note if you'd like to take a deep dive on this venture.

Lev Gonick

Posted by lsg8 at March 20, 2005 12:41 PM and tagged Bytes 

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