The Gates Foundation Supports Decentralized Schools
19 September 2003 (collegiateway.org) — The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has just awarded a $51 million grant for the creation of 67 small, decentralized high schools in New York City. Although this benefaction will support secondary education rather than higher education, it is a very encouraging development because the spirit behind it is the very same spirit of decentralization behind the residential college movement at the university level. “A New York study,” the Gates Foundation reports, “found that students in smaller high schools had higher graduation rates, higher college-going rates and lower dropout rates than their peers in larger schools. A Chicago study found students in small schools had dropout rates one-third lower than those in big schools. Other studies have shown that small schools are safer than big ones and show great promise for raising achievement levels among disadvantaged students.”
The Gates Foundation deserves much credit for recognizing the detrimental effects of the “educational massification” that has been inflicted on so many communities over the past 40 years. As the students in those high schools continue their academic careers, let us hope that they will have equally challenging and welcoming collegiate societies to belong to when they enter the university of their choice.