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Laurene Powell Jobs’s Mission to Disrupt High School

Since 2001, about $15 billion has been spent by taxpayers and philanthropists trying to boost academic achievement in American public schools. These efforts have largely failed — especially in high school. For the average 17-year-old, reading and math scores have not budged since 1971. On standardized tests, white 17-year-olds still outscore black 17-year-olds by 20 points or more — a stubborn gap, unchanged for 30 years.

Laurene Powell Jobs is undaunted by these facts. To her, the cause of the failure is clear: High schools fail to serve American kids because they were designed a hundred years ago for an industrial society that has ceased to exist. 

Last month, Powell Jobs announced the details of a $100 million investment in American high school through a contest she helped design called XQ: The Super School Project.