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Monday, November 14, 2011

Schools Can Be Just Too Big

The dinosaur's eloquent lesson is that if some bigness is good, an overabundance of bigness is not necessarily better. -- Eric Johnston
In the 1930's there were about 127,000 school districts. By the late 1980's they had been consolidated into slightly over 15,000 much larger units. Bigger pots, is seems, were thought to make better soup. Do we still think this is true? Is it time for a change?

No doubt some can point to many benefits gained by such consolidation. But who exactly gained those benefits? And who paid the costs?

University students who are prospective teachers want to be told there is no connection between what goes on in a classroom and the organization of the school. After all, why not close their classroom door and shut out the world? Can't they just "raise their expectations"?

Prospective teachers also want to know how to be "effective." That is all. They do not want to hear that important factors are not under their control, unless, with equal though contrary confusion, they give up the struggle, citing them as insurmountable.

Would-be teachers tend not to believe that school consolidation can have much effect on what they do. Much more important, they imagine, is their personal verve and dedication. This "Man of La Mancha-complex" often persists well into their careers. Being true to their glorious quest, their hearts, perhaps, will lie peaceful and calm when they're laid to their rest. Fine for them, but what about their students?

To examine these issues further, see Really Want Change? Deconsolidate the Schools!

-- EGR