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How can US schools reinvent themselves? Look at TechBoston, Obama says.

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The school is a model of private-public partnerships, working closely with a local teacher residency program and numerous business partners, including Microsoft, Google, Cisco, and IBM. Created through a collaboration between the Boston Public Schools, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Boston Foundation, this "pilot school" enjoys much more flexiblity than most public schools, including the ability to have a longer school day and year. Pilot schools are part of a Boston program that allows certain schools freedoms similar to charter schools, though still run by the district and staffed with union employees.

“We need to recognize that the true path to reform has to involve partnerships between teachers and school administrators and communities,” Obama said. “And we’ll need a national education policy that tries to figure out how do we replicate success stories like TechBoston all across the country.”

Obama also mentioned the $90 million contest he proposed in his 2012 budget. He hopes it will spur research and development in educational technology, he said, adding that it should “help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, and educational software that’s as compelling as the best video game.”

Named the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Education (ARPA-ED) the fund would be modeled after DARPA (the Defense Andvanced Research Projects Agency), the military program – launched in response to Sputnik – that developed many important technologies.

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