Lowell Milken: Speeches


HighTechHigh-LA Dedication Remarks

November 17, 2004

Lowell Milken
Milken Family Foundation

Good morning! Thank you, Roberta, for those kind words. Certainly the respect is mutual. When Roberta first shared her vision for HighTechHigh-LA—a school that would prepare a diverse young people for the intellectual and technical challenges of the 21st century, I recognized the power of both the concept—and its advocate. Powerful ideas are essential but as important, is to ensure that there is the human capital to carry them out. With Roberta Weintraub, we all can be confident that we have the human capital to make it happen.

Certainly, one of HighTechHigh's greatest opportunities lies in the fact that it offers students a rigorous and relevant educational experience within a public school environment. Like many of you here, I am a product of California's public schools; in fact, I attended Hesby Street Elementary, Portola Junior High and Birmingham High School right here in the Los Angeles Unified School District. While my educational experience at the time was not infused with the powerful tools of technology that are present in this school, I was the beneficiary of an outstanding education—one which prepared me well to take advantage of life's opportunities. Why? Because each of these schools possessed the essential element of all great schools—high quality teachers. I feel honored today to introduce one of those great educators, one of my teachers at Birmingham High, Mr. Lou Ramirez.

While we know from research and, more importantly, from our own experiences, that exemplary educators like Lou Ramirez are the most important school-related factor driving student performance, we also know that in a world increasingly dominated by information and communications technology, talented teachers need powerful tools to help prepare their students for life in a rapidly changing world. By combining exceptional instruction with first-rate technological resources—as well as involvement with the business community through internships and mentoring—HighTechHigh provides an opportunity for every student in this small learning community to receive a high quality educational experience. When you consider the varied ethnic, socioeconomic and academic backgrounds of present and future students who attend HighTechHigh, the opportunity that this school represents in providing access to this kind of education is significant and in fact—life-changing.

Today we celebrate the opportunity for our public school system and our community to be at the forefront of innovation. Those institutions responsible for our schools, as well as those benefiting from them in the workplace, need to invest more in innovative learning environments (or what we call in the business world, research and development). For it is precisely through R&D that we can find new and effective ways to improve student learning and their experiences.

Given the limited financial flexibility in most districts today, public/private partnerships are essential. Following the example of HighTechHigh, we can cross boundaries to involve foundations, corporations and other community institutions in support of state and district education efforts. United in purpose, we can prepare our young people for lives that are productive and satisfying by infusing them with the confidence, skills, and flexibility to succeed in our global community and economy. My family and I are proud to be part of the many who have made HighTechHigh a reality. Collectively, we are making a lasting contribution to young people's minds, imagination and character.