Sarah E. Goode is the name of one of the first African-American women ever to be granted a U.S. patent, in 1885, for a foldout bed that converted into a desk--a prescient object that would fit right into a modern-day Ikea catalog. It's also the name of a new high school on Chicago's South Side that is redefining what it means to be educated in the 21st century.
Kids at the school, which launched a year and a half ago, aren't called students but "innovators." They receive a hardcore focus on STEM skills (that's science, technology, engineering and math). And they take six years to graduate instead of the traditional four; the extra two years means they walk away with an associate's degree on top of their high school diploma.
There's one more thing they take with them: a job. Every student at Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy graduates with a promise of a $40,000-plus opportunity at IBM, the school's corporate partner and a key developer of the curriculum. A place in this school, which rises gleaming and new in a neighborhood littered with dingy bail-bond shops, check-cashing places and fast-food joints, is very likely a ticket to the middle class. If successful, this kind of school could help power the sort of great national leap forward that hasn't happened since the post-World War II period, when state governments decided that high school, previously optional, should be mandatory.