There is a dangerous trend recently toward megaschools, schools that contain a large number of students at one school, anywhere from 500 to 2,000 students in one building. My own school district is considering doing this with our elementary school, and it scares me to no end.
Megaschools can be convenient for school districts for a few reasons. A flux of incoming students can lead to overcrowding, and creating a new megaschool would address the problem, leaving room for further expansion. It is also usually more coast effective to create and maintain one megaschool than it is to renovate and maintain two or three individual schools. Often, school districts can even make money, when they reduce the amount of property they need for their schools. To further complicate the issue, the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act without the necessary added funding to comply has school districts struggling.
But megaschools usually have many problems. Often the teacher-student ratio is very low. The principal can no longer know each student by face, let alone by name or even who the students parents are. A complex synchronization must be done throughout the day to ensure that everyone can use the gym, the lunchroom, the library. Lunch has to begin at 10:30 and continue through 2 in order to fit everyone in, for some megaschools. And students find themselves wandering through a city of strangers rather than hallways and classrooms with their teachers and friends.
Schools are losing their individuality, their charm. And that great little school in the woods gets torn down and replaced with the equivalent of an industrial park, or if you are lucky, a college campus. Some school districts even take the megaschool concept one step further, but combining vastly different grades on the same property. Imagine a new kindergartener going to school for the first time and being met not only with 600 other elementary students, but another 600 high school students at the same time. Scary.
What do you think of megaschools?
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