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President's Message (Jean Aoki)
State Council / Board Actions May 15-16 1998
Honolulu's Loss - Seattle's Gain (Suzanne Meisenzahl)
Guidelines for Maintaining League Nonpartisan Policy
League Local News - Hawaii County (Susan Dursin, Helene Hale & Marian Wilkins)
League Local News - Honolulu (Grace Furukawa)
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On National Issues...
Small Schools and Schools-Within-Schools (insert)

Small Schools and Schools-Within-Schools


A Tested Path

To Improving Public Education

We are not going to get different
results in schools until we change
what we are doing and the way we
organize ourselves to do it.


Small schools have many advantages over large:

  • They have greater impact, hence influence, on their students.

  • They have fewer and less serious behavior problems.

  • They narrow the success gap that separates the most and least fortunate.

  • They can more successfully stimulate student involvement and participation.

  • They elicit greater effort from students.

  • They have lower dropout rates.

  • Their students learn more and proceed more steadily toward graduation.

  • Education can be personalized only in small schools.

  • Only small schools can function as caring communities.

  • They are more cost-effective, costing less per graduate than other schools.

  • In small schools, almost all students fare better - especially disadvantaged students.

These are some of the reasons why the move toward small schools is, now so strong, and has become perhaps the nation's most prominent reform movement. In the last six years, New York City has created about 200 small schools which today serve 50,000 students! Philadelphia has sought to convert all 22 of its comprehensive high schools into small, separate learning communities or schools-within-schools. Smaller cities and towns across the nation have taken similar steps, in elementary as well as high schools.

Existing school buildings can provide small school benefits.

  • Existing buildings can be divided into schools-within-schools

  • Separate, autonomous programs can be established, each with its own staff, students, distinctive theme, and program

What problems do schools-within-schools solve?

  • The lack of continuity and coherence from class to class and grade-to-grade

  • The disengagement of bureaucratically regimented teachers

  • The challenge of obtaining meaningful agreements among teachers divided by fundamental disagreements

  • The problem of schools that are not succeeding

  • Obtaining and sustaining the attention of disadvantaged students

  • The widespread boredom and disinterest in class


  • The lack of parent involvement in schools

What are the essentials for successful schools-within-schools?

  • A self-selecting group of teachers who design the program for their school

  • Each school-within-a-school has its own separate space

  • Each school-within-a-school offers a complete curriculum and covers multiple grade levels (e.g., K-3, 9-12, 7-12)

  • Each is given assurance it can continue for a specified period (3-5 years) providing it succeeds with its students

  • Each has a teacher director

  • Students choose to enter the program

  • Enrollment is open to all with no admissions requirements beyond interest

  • Time is made available for regular, frequent meetings of teachers for analyzing their effects on students - and making the changes indicated

As Richard Kelley told the Hawaii Hotel Association, `people don't initiate change until the pain of the status quo becomes worse than the fear of the unknown. " If you've reached that stage,


Join the League of Women Voters Education Project -
The Revitalization of Public Education

For further information:
Call the League 531-7448
The Education Project 988-2635

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