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June 17, 2008

Will smaller high schools graduate more students?

Here's an interesting article about an initiative in Michigan aimed at reducing the size of high schools. It's an especially timely article for those of you who may be following the debate locally about school size, an issue recently brought into sharper focus in Baltimore County because of a failed proposal to expand Loch Raven High School.

Click here for my article from last week about the school board's decision to nix the expansion plan at Loch Raven High School. And here for my article on County Executive James T. Smith Jr.'s response to the board's action.

Posted by Gina Davis at 11:57 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Around the Nation, Baltimore County, Trends


Here are some video highlights of the Board's vote on Loch Raven, in which they accuse the county executive of "warehousing" students through the giant additions that are starting to ring our Beltway.

Smaller High schools may improve graduation rates but they cheapen the whole concept of the "high school experience". Many of the extras are not available because of the economies of scale that a large school can offer.

At quick glance at the leading high schools in Maryland( iaw recently published listing) show that the smallest of the top five has over 1600 students. This small school movement only seems to have legs in areas where there are a large percentage of poor and minority students.

Some years back there was also a movement to make smaller more manageable prisons. Was this the gensis of the small school line of thinking?

Amen Overthetop....

Small schools haven't worked, but they sure have limited offerings for kids. Athletics, courses, and activities all get cut down. We have a few large schools left and they need support to stay alive under the constant assault to downsize.

I've worked in both large (huge) and "small" (not quite so huge) high schools in Baltimore City. My experience is that students had more advantages at the large schools. These schools were broken down into academies which provided students with an academic identity, a more intimate environment allowing for greater familiarity with teachers and staff while providing the benefit of a wider selection of course offerings and extracurricular activities. Our smaller high schools have been stripped down to the bare bones when it comes electives and after-school activities. In a time when students need a more stimulating, rich environment, we are giving them less and less.

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