This is one of Gary Rubinstein’s best posts ever.

He watched Laurene Powell Jobs’ extravaganza about her efforts to redesign the American high school into XQ Super Schools. The one where she bought time on four networks.

The one where celebrities said again and again that high schools have not changed in 100 years; Gary does a good job of shredding that myth. Yes, high schools have changed in the past 100 years, but some things should never change and will be found in high schools all over the world.

He notes that the show has had no effect. It seems to have disappeared as soon as it was on the air.

But it didn’t disappear for him because he realized that he taught at one of the XQ Super Schools, a high school in Houston that allegedly was a failing school that was miraculously transformed.

Gary shows that it was not the nightmare school that the producers claimed it to be, nor has it had the miraculous transformation that the show now boasts about.

It was a good school when he was there, even though there was a gang population in the ninth grade.

What he discovers is that the school now has a charter school on campus, which apparently serves as a dumping ground for the kids who are not going to graduate. The regular school raised its statistics by pushing out the bad kids.

No miracle there!

But the school does have a really nice garden. That’s new. That’s good. Is that what caused the claimed spike in test scores? Not likely.

He writes:

One thing that this program definitely accomplished is product placement. It seems that one feature of innovative high schools is that students use a lot of laptops and it seems like most of those laptops are Apple products. While iPads were once considered to be something that was going to be a big part of education, the thing most schools are actually using are a type of laptop called a Chromebook, which is an inexpensive Google product. Since the kids in these schools are using Apple laptops, maybe one purpose of this show was to help with Apple’s competition with Google for the education market.

One thing we did not see a lot of in this was overt teacher bashing. I suppose this is why Randi Weingarten attended and tweeted about how wonderful a program this is. Now even though there wasn’t overt teacher bashing, there was some less direct bashing like the part where celebrities were asked what they wish they learned in high school. Based on their answers, the only conclusion is that their teachers must not have taught those things to them very well.

This program didn’t really seem to resonate with anybody and most people on both sides of the education reform wars have pretty much forgotten about it already. It was a colossal waste of money and shows that being rich doesn’t mean that you necessarily have the right to dictate education policy.

I think that it is not an accident that there was no mention of evil unions or miracle charter schools or school choice in this program. My sense is that reformers realize that most of the talking points from Waiting For Superman don’t work anymore. The public has wised up. They don’t believe as much that teacher’s unions are the problem or that charter schools are the solution. So this program is an attempt to get a new rationale that the public can believe and get behind whatever reforms the reformers want to try, which of course will be more union busting and charters and vouchers. So the new thing is that schools haven’t evolved much in the past 100 years and that’s a problem. All that matters is that the public believes there is some problem, whatever it is. It doesn’t need to be the unions, but it must be something so the 100 year thing will likely be repeated a lot of over the next decade as the new villain for them to save us from.