Smaller Schools Growing Pains

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Tacoma school won't seek Gates grant


TACOMA -- The teachers at a Tacoma high school, which has been part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's effort to dismantle large high schools into smaller learning communities, have voted against seeking more money from the foundation for its transition.

The vote won't stop the school's efforts to create a small-school environment, but the Gates money for training and other expenses will disappear, said Foss High principal Sharon Schauss.

Some staffers who voted against applying to continue the grant say the small-school effort has failed.

"Every single teacher at Foss wants more support," history teacher Tim Ford said. "Those 60 percent who voted against applying for more money believe to one extent or another that the (achievers) program has destroyed good programs we had in this building: IB (International Baccalaureate Program) and the old team structure."
It's funny. I still don't see why smaller schools would cause more than logistical, mainly transportation related, problems for a Team structured program. I've read about it before, and the IBP could easily have any transportation issues covered by contributions from PTA and participating and interested families. Many school systems already do that for extracurriculars like sports and debate squads. This program is more of a special curricular, but the supply of a similar number of students should make it remarkably self-supporting. It certainly seems effective in practice.

Wealthy (read Middle Class) folk really don't mind spending money on government initiatives as long as there's a direct benefit or returns on such. Let the teachers and other experts determine the methods and materials most appropriate and efficacious for the curriculum. They're progress will have participants future Education and Employment stats as evidence that the program works. The particular families, and maybe community groups, who are involved can fund the logistics until evidence of efficacy is irrefutable.

I think it's kinda clear that I totally support the Small School Initiative. I also see where control of our Educatory Industrial Complex (!!!) has got to be both more wisely practiced and rationally funded.

Life is pratice, eh. We've got to keep trying harder to educate our young as effectively and comprehensively as we can.

Addendum: This just caught my eye. Seems interestingly relevant.
Blackboard Blogging
Web Journals Become the New Fly on the Wall of Teachers' Lounges

By Valerie Strauss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 4, 2006; Page A08

The teachers' lounge -- that secretive place where, students imagine, teachers sip coffee, smoke and gossip about them -- has gone global.

The blogosphere is the new lounge where teachers gather to talk about vicious administrators, educational reforms both stupid and smart, marriage, divorce and, yes, students.


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