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Project Seeks To Link Academics and the Real World

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The project, Changing the Subject: The New Urban High School Project, builds on the U.S. Department of Education's New American High Schools program, which this past spring recognized 10 high schools for their efforts to integrate vocational and academic learning throughout the curricula.

The Providence-based Big Picture Co., which so far has concentrated its school-reform efforts in Rhode Island, will direct its latest project from a new office in Cambridge, Mass. The Big Picture Co., a nonprofit education-research and advocacy organization, formed more than a year ago with staff from the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University in Providence.

The group will seek out a half-dozen schools already committed to integrating academic and vocational learning through such methods as innovative internships, adult mentors, and career-awareness programs.

"We're going to do more than showcasing them," said Dennis Littky, a co-director of the Big Picture Co. "I see this as trying to find six of the best schools around the country, but schools that are not satisfied with how good they are."

Extensive Brain Trust

Each of the selected schools will receive about $30,000 to implement programs by January, said Larry Rosenstock, who is directing the effort for the Big Picture Co.

Since 1990, Mr. Rosenstock has been the executive director of Cambridge's Rindge School of Technical Arts, the country's second-oldest public vocational high school.

Six education-reform experts have signed on to help select the sites and act as mentors. They are: Theodore R. Sizer, the chairman of the Coalition for Essential Schools; Seymour Sarason, the author of the 1982 book The Culture of the School and the Problem of Change; Judith Warren-Little and Norton Grubb, both education professors at the University of California at Berkeley; Deborah Meier, who has directed school-reform efforts in New York City schools; and Howard Fuller, a former superintendent of the Milwaukee schools.

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