The Ford Foundation wants to reward a better idea.
Urban high schools that have significantly improved their overall performance through the last decade in such areas as academic achievement, student life, parental participation, and placement of graduates in jobs or college will receive awards totaling $1.1 million.
Some 200 hundred schools in 40 cities will be eligible for grants ranging from $500 to $20,000 in the new City High School Recognition Program. The program is focusing on cities with populations between 150,000 and two million.
Only comprehensive high schools - those that offer a general academic curriculum and admit students without regard to entrance examinations or achievement standards - are eligible. Student enrollment must be at least 30 percent from low-income families.
Commenting on the fact that in recent years many urban high schools had upgraded the quality of their education programs, Franklin A. Thomas, Ford Foundation president, said, ''The impression persists that our urban high schools do not educate, that students are disruptive, teachers demoralized, and parents unengaged.
''Our staff investigations have revealed that in many schools substantial gains are being made in basic skills, order prevails in the classroom, morale is good, parents are involved, and learning and achievement are taking place.''
High schools in the following cities will be eligible to participate in the program: Albuquerque, N.M. Houston, Texas Minneapolis, Minn. San Antonio, Texas Atlanta, Ga. Indianapolis, Ind. New Orleans, La. San Diego, Calif. Baltimore, Md. Jackson, Miss. Norfolk, Va. Seattle, Wash. Birmingham, Ala. Jersey City, N.J. Oakland, Calif. Spokane, Wash. Charlotte, N.C. Kansas City, Mo. Omaha, Neb. Syracuse, N.Y. Columbus, Ohio Knoxville, Tenn. Pittsburgh, Pa. Tampa, Fla. Denver, Colo. Las Vegas, Nev. Portland, Ore. Tucson, Ariz. Des Moines, Iowa Lubbock, Texas Providence, R.I. Tulsa, Okla. Detroit, Mich. Memphis, Tenn. Rochester, N.Y. Washington, D.C. Fresno, Calif. Milwaukee, Wis. Salt Lake City, Utah Worcester, Mass.