To the editor:
As we look for solutions to the middle school problem (restore, build new, relocate), I proposed another possibility. What if we focused on all our kids, not just the seventh-and eighth-graders? What if we looked to improve all our schools at the same time? The idea sweeping the nation is to do away with the middle school. Wow. What a big step. Yes, we must look at both sides of the issue, and I urge us to do so, but let's think about what this might look like.
We could expand our elementary schools to include the seventh- and eighth-graders. We already did this for our sixth-graders. By expanding we would improve the physical quality of all our grade schools. We could keep our kids in town and within the comfort of the schools they have attended since kindergarten. Older and younger students could work together, learn together, and grow together. Why isolate kids right when so many areas of their lives are changing? By keeping our kids together we may better prepare them for high school and the future. There is no reason for grades to slip and rebellion to rise during middle school years. The middle school was initially intended to help kids during this transitional age, but I think it often backfires. There are some amazing middle schools in our country because we have a lot of amazing and committed teachers, and simply combining schools does not automatically eliminate problems, but maybe it is time to explore some alternatives to middle school.
Check out the following links to read more about the research and what is working in many other cities. And by the way, I grew up in K-8 schools and had a blast. I wouldn't change my experiences for anything. Now, as an educator, I am passionate to help make school work for today's students.