Is "small" a size or an intimate cultural environment?
Are strong academics the key to success for small schools, or is it equally important to build personal ownership, group accountability, and community engagement?
Whatever the answers to these questions, the School District's multimillion dollar "Small Schools Transition Project" is now underway, promising to create at least 28 new high school options for Philadelphia students by 2008.
"Small schools are the launch pad, not the rocket ship," cautioned Michael Klonsky, director of the Small Schools Workshop in Chicago, during a talk sponsored by the Philadelphia Education Fund on February 1. The Education Fund brought Klonsky to Philadelphia to support local efforts to create more small high schools in the School District.
Bill Gates, Microsoft founder, when addressing the nation's governors in February, called American high schools "obsolete" and "designed 50 years ago to meet the needs of another age."
Gates and other reformers are pushing for a complete overhaul of the present structure and the creation of an equitable system that results in all students being prepared for post-secondary success - whether in college or the workplace.