Monday, August 08, 2005

Is Bigger Really Better for Our Children?

"Peace and Diversity, in the Bronx, is one of 53 small high schools that opened last September as part of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's effort to remake public education in New York. And in a way, the students' essays are a metaphor for the inaugural year of the small schools: far from perfect, but with notable achievement and a lot of hard work still ahead. New York City's experience is being watched by districts nationwide that are following its lead in creating small schools as an antidote to alarming high school dropout rates. The hope is that schools with fewer than 500 students will create a more intimate learning environment, improving attendance and achievement by making it easier to identify students' needs. Themes like peace and diversity are used to make school more engaging, even as the curriculums focus on basic requirements, not vocational training or electives. More than a month after the school year ended, there are few hard statistics on the new small schools. Attendance figures have yet to be audited, promotion rates yet to be finalized, results of Regents exams yet to be published by the state. But anecdotal evidence suggests better numbers than at the large, failing schools that small schools are replacing - admittedly not a high bar to clear, since the four-year graduation rate at those schools was 35 percent."

With this in mind, should North Carolina look at all our consolidated schools with a microscope? Are our overcrowded primary, elementary schools the real reason our poor children are being "left behind?" Is this the answer or just another reform-of-the-month for education? This article leaves me with more questions than answers. Pretty heavy for a Monday.

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