The other day I drove a stretch of US-59 from Houston's Bush International Airport to a high school in a fairly beaten-down neighborhood. A few years ago, Sharpstown High School was on what its principal called a "death march." Six years later, Sharpstown International is among those earning the district's highest rank: exemplary.
"Six years ago, we didn't have anything," Sharpstown International Principal Chang Yu says. Faced with a failing school, the Houston Independent School District asked Asia Society to help start a new small school, Sharpstown International School, in the same neighborhood. The idea was to use proven reform efforts to make unsuccessful schools successful. Chang adds, without prompting or hesitation: "Without the Asia Society we wouldn't be here."
It was great to hear that, of course. I had read and heard about the work for months, but before this day I hadn't walked the halls of one of our hallmark schools, schools now part of our International Studies Schools Network (ISSN), where the proposition is basic: learn about the world, and you'll be better prepared for the world once your school days are done.