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Bigger is Not Better - School Consolidation
Arkansas Publik Skulz ^ | David W. Kirpatrick

Posted on 01/05/2004 7:21:49 AM PST by steplock

Arkansas Publik Skulz

Date: Monday, January 05 @ 08:14:19
School Size - Bigger Is Not Better
By David W. Kirkpatrick - Senior Education Fellow

Few aspects of education have been more thoroughly researched than school size. Few findings have been more consistent; and few have been more consistently ignored. ..

In 2001, a study by Public Agenda found that "Essentially all of the research on high school size conducted in the past 30 years suggests that we need to move to much smaller schools."

Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner suggested 250 students and Ted Sizer has said no school --elementary, middle, or secondary -- should have more than 200 students.

Of necessity, a smaller percentage of students in large high schools take part in extracurricular activities such as athletics, the school paper, and class offices. Only so many students may play football, or basketball, etc., regardless of the school's enrollment. The percentage of student participation has been shown to peak in high schools with 61 to 150 students. By contrast, the nation's 25,000 nonpublic schools average about 200. New charter schools across the nation have only about 200, and many have fewer than 100. Yet all of these seem to do just fine. .

A small school movement is finally underway.

Since the mid 1970s the East Harlem District 4, the poorest of New York City's 32 K-8 subdistricts, and one of the poorest in the nation, has moved from last to about 15th by creating minischools, most with 200 to 300 pupils, and permitting students to choose which of the schools they will attend. Realizing that a building is not a school, East Harlem has individual buildings with more than one school each.

Since the mid-1980s, the Kansas City School District and the state of Missouri, under the orders of a federal district court judge, have spent some $2 billion extra dollars to build huge new schools. Yet dropout rates and other problems remain high while achievement rates stay low. The U.S. Supreme Court finally ordered the district judge to relinquish his control. The judge had consulted educational "experts" who assured him that their recommendations would turn the district around within five years.

The Philadelphia School District received more than $25 million from the Pew Charitable Trusts to assist in reducing the operational size of the district's high schools. Walter Annenberg provided a grant of more than $49 million to the Chicago School District to do the same. The September 29, 2003 issue of TIME Magazine reported that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave more than $50 million to New York City public schools to help create nearly 70 small theme-based high schools with a maximum of 500 students each.

Smaller schools cost much less to build, may be located in more convenient places because they don't need large amounts of land, save on transportation costs, encourage neighborhood schools, and have many other advantages in addition to those of student achievement, behavior and participation. Many reasons have been given for the decline of the educational system in recent decades, such as the growth of teacher unions and the weakening of family structures. Perhaps each of these factors plays a role. But so, too, may be the building of larger schools, which also has coincided with the growing problems.

If the question is whether a new school should be a large centralized one, the overwhelming evidence says no.

(This report was the product of one of the largest studies of public schools ever done in the United States.)

Information on small schools/small learning communities strategies may be found on the Internet at: , or

This article comes from Arkansas Publik Skulz

The URL for this story is:

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: education; homeschool; school

1 posted on 01/05/2004 7:21:49 AM PST by steplock
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To: EuroFrog
Bigger Is Not Better

Now where have I heard that before???

2 posted on 01/05/2004 7:45:07 AM PST by EuroFrog (A chicken by any other name still tastes like chicken.)
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To: All
If you don't make a donation to Free Republic, then that's one more thing you have in common with Patrick Leahy.

3 posted on 01/05/2004 7:46:01 AM PST by Support Free Republic (I'd rather be sleeping. Let's get this over with so I can go back to sleep!)
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To: steplock
Excellent article. I thank my parents everyday that from Kindergarten thru 7th grade I went to a christian private school which had no more than 15 kids per class. Tried the public school thing for 8th and 9th grade and it was awful. The teachers had to spend more time disciplining the students than teaching. Maybe not every public school has the same issues but here in MD do not send your kids to a Prince Georges public school.
4 posted on 01/05/2004 7:48:43 AM PST by Independentamerican (Independent Freshman at the University of MD)
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To: steplock

'Obstacles On The Road To Centralization
Three major obstacles stood in the way of the great goal of using American schools to realize a scientifically programmed society. The first was the fact that American schooling was locally controlled. In 1930, when the massive socializing scheme was swinging into high gear, helped substantially by an attention-absorbing depression, this nation still had 144,102 local school boards.17 At least 1.1 million elected citizens of local stature made decisions for this country’s schools out of their wisdom and experience. Out of 70 million adults between the ages of thirty and sixty-five, one in every sixty-three was on a school board (thirty years earlier, the figure had been one in twenty). Contrast either ratio with today’s figure of one in five thousand.
The first task of scientifically managed schooling was to transfer management from a citizen yeomanry to a professional elite under the camouflage of consolidation for economy’s sake. By 1932, the number of school districts was down to 127,300; by 1937 to 119,018; by 1950 to 83,719; by 1960 to 40,520; by 1970 to 18,000; by 1990 to 15,361. Citizen oversight was slowly squeezed out of the school institution, replaced by homogeneous managerial oversight, managers screened and trained, watched, loyalty-checked by Columbia, Stanford, Chicago, the Cleveland Conference, and similar organizations with private agendas for public schooling.'

And with an increasing population!
5 posted on 01/05/2004 7:49:08 AM PST by rector seal
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To: steplock
And the beat goes on. Here is an article from today's local paper that shows that a federal representative is encouraging the consolidation of smaller school districts using state bribes in much the same way that the school districts are consolidating the small schools into megaschools.

From the Albany, NY Times Union

School merger proposed
Green Island-- McNulty pushes for Green Island, Cohoes districts to unite
First published: Tuesday, January 6, 2004

“U.S. Rep. Michael McNulty on Monday called for the Green Island and Cohoes school districts to merge, a move that he said would save taxpayers in both communities millions of dollars.”

“The congressman said he will urge the Green Island school board to pursue the proposal, adding that the state would "handsomely reward the communities for the merger" with a $30 million windfall in additional aid over the next 14 years.”
6 posted on 01/06/2004 7:54:57 AM PST by rector seal
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