Tuesday, February 07, 2017
The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly About The Bloomberg Small Schools.
Back in 2009, Bill Gates, who pushed for small schools, soon realized that small schools didn't work. The one exception he said was the New York City (Bloomberg) small schools. Instead, Bill Gates focused on teacher accountability and evaluation based on test scores. Why was the Bloomberg small schools the exception? Simple. The Bloomberg small schools, to ensure they succeeded, were over funded, while the large comprehensive schools were underfunded by 20% or more of their fair student funding. Moreover, the Bloomberg small schools were allowed to exclude "high needs" students like English Language Learners, Special Education, and Behaviorally challenged students while dumping then in the large comprehensive schools he wanted and did close. Finally, if the Bloomberg small schools could not attract enough academically proficient students, they still received funding for the empty seats which kept class sizes small. The result was that the first few years, these Bloomberg schools had much higher academic proficiency rates and that is why Bill Gates found them a success. Of course, once the Bloomberg small schools were subject to the same funding and policies as the rest of the schools, the student academic achievement dropped significantly.
Let's look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Bloomberg small schools and the false promises of a great education they claimed the students would get..
In theory, small schools allow for a more personal relationship between staff and students. In fact, many of these schools advertise the family-like atmosphere and that most teachers are familiar with the students and can provide emotional and social support as well as academic help. Usually, graduation rates are higher at small schools since fewer students fall through the gaps as the schools are better able to track students.
Small schools have limited course selection, few electives, and no flexibility in their schedules. Moreover, despite the small school size, classes are usually at contract limits of 34 and students are forced to take courses that they are not capable of passing. Further, the Bloomberg small schools have a largely inexperienced staff and subject to high teacher turnover leading to an unstable school environment. Finally, many of the unscreeneed Bloomberg small schools are now required to select "over-the-counter" students. Many of them "high needs" and level one students just to reach the numbers when it comes to funding. No more funding for empty seats.
The Bloomberg small schools have abysmally low "college and career readiness" rates Usually headed by a "Leadership Academy" Principal, and have a reputation of being top-heavy in administration and hostile to their teaching staff. Moreover, teacher autonomy in the classroom is virtually non-existent and micromanaging is the rule, where Danielson is used as a weapon. Finally, the graduates from these schools are subject to no-credit remedial courses and struggle in college. In other words. they graduate unprepared for life after high school. Remember, there are no "credit recovery courses" in college or administrative pressure to pass undeserving students and being absent or late gets one fired in the job market. Welcome to the real world and for far too many of these students its really a slap in their face.
Finally, most students who are enrolled in the Bloomberg small schools will tell you it was one of their worst mistakes selecting their school. If you don't believe me then just ask them when you end up in these unscereened Bloomberg small schools.