Small isn’t enough

Chicago’s newly created small high schools — typically no more than 500 students — must cope with bureacratic interference and start-up chaos, says this Chicago Tribune story.

The School of Entrepreneurship on Chicago’s South Side was designed to get kids excited about school with real-world lessons, but it was forced to scuttle freshman business classes because they didn’t fit into the schedule dictated from downtown.

. . . The report released Thursday by the Consortium on Chicago School Research, a program of the University of Chicago, details some of the reasons the new, small schools failed to live up to hopes:

– The new schools are plagued by the bad reputation of the old school. The average student comes in reading at a 6th-grade level, and about a quarter of the freshmen need special education services. The same staff returns and gets stuck in old habits. Decisions are still driven by a top-heavy bureaucracy.

– The new schools lack basics such as science labs and separate cafeterias, the report continues. And principals spend too much time on fixing organizational problems, with too little time devoted to challenging and invigorating instruction.

However, students say their new schools are less violent; they get more help from teachers. Attendance is up. More students plan to graduate and go on to college.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. However, students say their new schools are less violent; they get more help from teachers. Attendance is up. More students plan to graduate and go on to college.
    Less violent is an outstanding statement. I don’t see ‘going to college’ as an advantage unless the kids are able to succeed as adults. In some cases it’s merely being duped into dept. If a basic education is pushed off into high-cost college, poverty is increased.

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Perhaps we need a choice – “Would you like violence or non-violence with your education?”

  3. It would appear that the most important task has been accomplished – settling on an exciting, new catchphrase.

    They’re no longer “three troubled high schools” now they are “12 small learning communities”.

  4. mike from oregon says:

    Here in Portland Oregon (a pathetic city in a pathetic state) they are trying the same silly experiment of changing some of high schools (that earned failing marks in the last 3 or 4 years in a row) into four smaller schools (within each high school). The local paper, which is so liberal that it hurts, recently ran some stories on a few of the students detailing their day – even this liberal paper couldn’t put a positive spin on this story (although they tried). Bottom line, the students in the new schools still skip classes (or skip whole days of school). They still fail to turn in homework, overall, not really much of a change – same game with little change to the scenery; which is what I suspected would happen all along (I had hopes, I just didn’t make them too high).