The New School Question Part I

As certain areas of the world explode in population, it is inevitable that schools will open to keep up with demand.  Often families are reluctant to send their children to new schools that have not established their reputation or standing.  Recently Liz wrote about this issue and created a list of pros and cons to consider when looking at new schools.

What are the pros and cons of new schools?

The pros of new schools may be:

  • Enthusiasm
  • Class sizes are small/teacher: student ratios are excellent
  • Often up-to-date with the latest educational trends
  • Keen to earn their reputations, as they don’t have reputations to rely upon
  • Facilities often are brand news and may be lavish

The cons:

  • Sometimes educationally under-resourced
  • May not have a unity of purpose
  • Curriculum may lack cogency
  • Staff turnover can be high while teething problems are ironed out
  • School policies may be fine in theory but need to be fine tuned in practice
  • More children with behavioral difficulties may be admitted to fill places
  • Children may not have an adequate peer group

It is easy to identify a school with a visionary leader and a clear mission.  You will encounter passion among anyone you speak with from the parents to administrators to cleaning personnel.  Everyone will be united behind a sense of purpose.  The curriculum may or may not be trendy, but it will be consistent and clear, and everyone will know what they have signed on for.  Educational materials and resources will support the curriculum. I always feel comfortable pointing out that a school stands for certain principles, and that by joining the school community, parents are choosing to align themselves with these.

In contrast, other new schools may not know what they stand for.  They may arise in response to a market opportunity, and may have a lovely site, and excellent teachers and administrators.  But the sense of purpose or clarity of vision often will be lacking.

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One Response to The New School Question Part I

  1. Doreen says:

    I live in a suburb outside of Dallas and this past year I was able to witness the opening of a new public high school for our school district. This high school features a new style of teaching and reflects a non-traditional approach to high school. Many of the highlighted points above were part of the experiences that both the students and their families encounter this past year. Although the building was not brand new, it was gutted to make proper use of the existing structure. This new high school featured “high tech” and was a appropriately furnished to fit its name. The principal is the kind of person who exemplifies enthusiasm and motivation. Enrollment for this coming school year exceeded expectations. The curriculum is based on State mandated assessments but still questions arose as to how well taught the subject matter was. And a continuing question to plague the school is – are the students receiving their basic fundamentals.

    As with any decision regarding a school choice, whether a school is new or established, school choice should be assessed based on the individual family and student’s needs.

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