ERIC Number: ED462221
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2002-Jan
Reference Count: N/A
Big Trouble: Solving Education Problems Means Rethinking Super-Size Schools and Districts. Focus on Utah.
Big school districts promised to hold down costs by centralizing functions under one roof and delivering a greater selection of academic offerings and activities, thus improving education. But they have not delivered. Up to a certain size, consolidation can save costs, but above that size, districts experience "diseconomies of scale," including misallocation of funds toward bureaucracy rather than instruction. On average, large districts' standardized test scores fall in the lower end of their expected ranges, while smaller districts' scores fall in the upper end of their ranges. Large schools are concentrated in large districts, and big schools experience the same problems as big districts. Parents are not happy with big districts--their complaints over test scores, curriculum, taxes, or anything else always come back to the issue of control. In a big district, the bureaucracy makes the important decisions, and parents feel alienated. Some districts have tried to create sub-schools that share a common school building or to create sub-districts or local councils, but they fail to address the issue of control. If administrators don't deal with the problem, frustrated citizens will take their complaints to the state, which will attempt to force quality. Limiting the size of districts and schools and creating smaller districts will improve academics and efficiency and encourage public participation by bringing issues back to the local level. This will spur innovation, flexibility, and commitment by parents and teachers. (TD)
Descriptors: Academic Achievement, Bureaucracy, Change Strategies, Elementary Secondary Education, House Plan, Parent Participation, Parent School Relationship, Participative Decision Making, Politics of Education, School District Size, School Size, Small Schools
Sutherland Institute, 111E 5600 South, Suite 202, Salt Lake City, UT 84107 ($3 plus shipping). Tel: 801-281-2081. For full text: http://www.sutherlandinstitute.org/Publications/FocusonUtah/ Smallerdistricts/BigTrouble.html.
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Sutherland Inst., Salt Lake City, UT.
Identifiers - Location: Utah