Small Schools, No Big Success
September 26th, 2005

Small SchoolsThe Politics of Education Association has two articles about Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to rely on small schools to solve the problems of New York’s education system in its new bulletin (in .pdf format). Neither of them gives a particularly positive picture.

Patrice Iatarola, an assistant professor at Florida State University, writes that New York’s experiment with small schools is the first real chance to evaluate how well such schools work, but concludes that there is not enough information to do so yet. While small schools seem to improve student attendance and attitudes, it is unclear whether they improve performance, Iatarola writes. Further, “conspicuously absent from the policy debate are questions relating more broadly to the effect that small schools have on a district as a whole.”

David Bloomfield, a professor at Brooklyn College, picks up this question and decides that, in New York’s case at least, introducing small schools have hurt the overwhelming majority of students who stay in larger ones. He is particularly critical of the way they have been introduced. The piecemeal implementation of small schools, he writes, has cannibalized promising staff members and students from larger schools, and left those schools overcrowded, less safe, and without sufficient funding.

“For a Mayor seen as a non-ideological tactician, more interested in ‘what works’ than political correctness, his monomania for small schools seems particularly ill considered,” he writes. “Rather than rigorously monitoring school quality so that all sudents are helped by his reforms, the startups seem to be given a free ride while larger schools are ever more burdened.”

By on September 26, 2005, 2:53 pm
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