A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Sunday, October 15, 2006

School Size: Too Much of a Good Thing?

Here's an interesting post:
Leaders, students and teachers at Union and Collinsville high schools recently discussed school-size issues, including course offerings, facilities, opportunities and comfort levels.

Talk of high school reform is heating up; notable groups such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are calling for change in high school size and structure.

But local supporters of both sizes of schools said the bottom line is atmosphere.

'A' for academics
With about 1,900 students in grades 11 and 12, Union High School's No. 1 benefit is course offerings, Principal Dave Stauffer said. Students at the school can take any of 15 math, 13 science, 15 fine arts and 19 business courses, to name a few, he said.

"It's great how many different opportunities there are for kids. If you're great at social studies, you can take it as much as you want," he said.

Collinsville High
School Principal Cory Slagle said course availability was one of his greatest concerns, but he added that his students are not hurting. "I would like to offer all the courses that the big schools offer, like foreign language and electives," Slagle said. "We offer Spanish, and some other schools offer Spanish, French, German and probably more. You might only have the choice of Spanish here, but you'll know your teacher."

Class size was a common concern at both schools. Stauffer said Union averages about 27 students per core class; Slagle said Collinsville averaged 22 to 23.

Read the whole thing for a very thoughtful take on the issue.

Especially with the recent attention which has been created by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, school size has become a very hot topic. I can tell you from personal experience that Union High School is just HUMONGOUS. The part of Tulsa it is in experienced some incredible growth starting the in mid-1980s.

I think that a small school can be the loneliest place in the world, but done right, a large school can be personal and welcoming. Small schools' biggest downfall is the paucity of courses they can offer. Large schools' biggest downfall is their often factory-like quality.

Is there a magically delicious high school size? Inquiring minds want to know.


At 10/17/06, 8:13 PM, Blogger Mrs. T said...

I think it depends on your formula for what makes you happy. I teach at a 4 yr high school consisting of about 1600 students. It seems to be a pretty good size. I subbed at a private school that had about 600 students- I really liked the size of that school.
I don't think there's a magic formula, but if the school is too big, I think it's pretty hard to have any sense of community and it would be pretty easy for students to get lost in the shuffle.


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