Thursday, September 29, 2005

New York's Small Schools--A critical look at implementation

Archived post from Yahoo360 |09/29/2005 10:27 am

Is Bloomberg's Implementation of Small Schools Hurting the Rest of the District??
A report from the Politics of Education Association, a "special interest group" of the American Educational Research Association, raises questions about Mayor Bloomberg's Smaller Learning Communities (SLC) strategy in New York.
According to the report by Florida State University's Patrice Iatarola, small schools or SLCs, "seem to have potential for improving student chievement or improving factors related to student achievement, such as attendance rates, but the body of evidence is not yet strong enough to know for sure whether or not small schools work.

Moreover, notably absent from the research on small schools is the impact that such changes have not only for those who are participating in the reforms but also on schools and students throughout the system. ... the findings do suggest that educators and policymakers should no longer ignore the implications that small school reform may have on schools and students system-wide."

The suggestion is that Bloomberg's plan for implementation of small schools in NY could be creating or further exacerbating racial segregation and the two-tiered system of education.
This is an issue that I, and other small-schools people, have been raising for years. Small schools, especially charters, can become another part of the horrible sorting and tracking process that replicates what Jonathan Kozol called, the "savage inequalities" in our schools and in our society as a whole. 

The small schools movement in New York began in the late 60s as a movement for equity and social justice. The latest wave, with millions of dollars from the Gates Foundation, seems to be more about "scaling up" and replication. I'm glad someone is looking at the implications district wide, especially for the 75% of students who are still forced to attend large (among the largest in the nation) high schools.

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