University of Illinois at Chicago Office of Public Affairs (MC 288)
601 S. Morgan St., Chicago, IL 60607-7113, (312) 996-3456,

November 16, 1999 Contact: Jeffron Boynes (312) 413-8702,


Parents seeking quality education alternatives for kids enrolled in public schools can find what they're looking for at a small schools exhibition coming to the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Small schools - one of the newer and more successful education options in the Chicago Public Schools system - will be on display at UIC's Small Schools Expo 2000 (Saturday, Dec. 4, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Illinois Room, Chicago Circle Center, 750 S. Halsted St).

"People are always surprised when they hear how many small schools there actually are in the Chicago Public Schools system," says Steven Strull, Small Schools Expo 2000 coordinator. "The Expo allows us to put all of them in one room so that parents and students - as well as teachers and administrators - can see just how many choices exist."

The Expo will feature 75 small schools, and a marketplace of more than 50 educational and cultural resource exhibits including museums, arts, music and community organizations. World-famous paleontologist Paul Sereno will answer questions about his recent expeditions, and will introduce visitors to a five-foot-long skull of a carnivorous dinosaur from Africa.

Among the invited guests are City of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, and officials from the Chicago Public Schools system including President Gery Chico, Chief Executive Officer Paul Vallas, and Chief Education Officer Cozette Buckney. Troy Tyler of WGCI Radio will be the mistress of ceremonies.

A small schools bus tour will also be sponsored by the Chicago Public Schools on Thursday, Dec. 2. For more information about the tour, call Marguerite Stams at (773) 553-1560.

The concept of small schools is based on the premise that, in contrast to large, overcrowded schools, small facilities can create a more intimate learning environment that is better able to address the needs of those within the school.

Recent studies suggest that small schools outperform big schools in many important areas, including measurable student achievement, improved attendance, course-passing rates and creating safe environments. In addition, students are more likely to participate in after-school activities and less likely to be truants, gang members or substance abusers.

"A compelling body of research shows that when students are part of smaller and more intimate learning communities, they are more successful," says Michael Klonsky, UIC professor of education and director of its Small Schools Workshop.

"We see small schools as a means to open doors to curricular improvements," he says. "Not surprisingly, we usually see an immediate reduction in violent or disruptive behavior on the part of students. There's a greater sense of ownership of the small school on behalf of the children. Teachers can focus on creative, engaging and experiential teaching, since they're not dealing with unwieldy numbers of students."

About 160 small schools - each with a maximum enrollment of 500 students - are currently operating in communities all over Chicago. Each fashions their curricula based on a distinct educational philosophy or goal, as well as the diversity and needs of the surrounding community.

Small Schools Expo 2000 is sponsored by the Chicago Public Schools Department of Special Initiatives; Business and Professional People for the Public Interest; Leadership for Quality Education; McDougal Littell; Small Schools Coalition; the Teacher Leadership Academy; the Cross City Campaign for Urban School Reform; the UIC Office of the Chancellor; and the Small Schools Workshop at UIC.

The Chicago Public Schools, with the motto "Children First," is working to improve the academic performance of students and to prepare them for graduation. The Chicago Public Schools has taken the lead as the first large urban district to offer systemic support for small schools.

The Small Schools Workshop is a group of organizers, educators and researchers collaborating with teachers, principals and parents in creation and support of small, innovative public schools in Chicago and across the country. Since its beginning in 1991, the Small Schools Workshop at UIC has reached out to almost 130 oversized, overcrowded and failing elementary and secondary public schools, to assist in reforming the Chicago Public Schools system.

With 25,000 students, the University of Illinois at Chicago is the largest and most diverse university in the Chicago area. UIC is home to the largest medical school in the United States and is one of only 88 national Research I universities. Located just west of Chicago's Loop, UIC is a vital part of the educational, technological and cultural fabric of the area.


Copyright © 1999 by B&P Consulting, Inc. and University of Illinois at Chicago. All rights reserved.
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