Oracle Builds 43 Million-dollar STEM Charter School

I recently took a road trip to California for the holidays. I passed through Silicon Valley, and boy was there some cool stuff to see–the most interesting thing? Well, aside from the Winchester Mystery House and people wearing scarves in 70-degree weather, I marveled at the sight of a 43 million-dollar public charter school campus being built into the side of a behemoth tech company.

Oracle, a computer software company based out of California, is just finishing the construction of a new campus designated to Design Tech High School. The campus will be integrated into Oracle’s estate, placing 550 students and an enormous tech company in a shared proximity.

Design Tech is a public charter school that emphasizes STEM courses and Stanford Universities’ design thinking. Now, it will act as a leading model for partnerships between technology companies and public education. Students at Design Tech will not only benefit from the brand new high-tech campus gifted by Oracle, but also from the opportunity for internships and mentoring from their neighboring organization. The price that Oracle is charging for rent? One dollar per-year. Even I could afford that with my allowance.

While some are concerned that Oracle may exercise excessive power over the school, the company has made thorough steps to make sure that the school retains its autonomy and style–including consulting students in the design of the campus and meeting with administrators to clearly define the responsibilities of itself and the school.

This collaboration is another example of the symbiotic relationship business and education can have. My friend Connan Houser at the Independence Institute had an op-ed title It’s time for more public-private cooperation in education published in the Greeley Tribune a short-while ago that highlighted some of Colorado’s own business/education partnerships. An interesting common-thread between the partnerships in Colorado and California is that the students in these programs are exceptionally engaged in and excited by the opportunities these businesses provide them. If anyone is gaining more from these relationships, it seems to be the students.

At the start of the spring semester, students at Design Tech will have access to their innovative campus, and the San Mateo district will feature one of the first public-education and business partnerships in California. Sounds like a good start to the year to me–as long as I get to stop by Great America on my way back.