Sunday, March 14, 2010

I Think This Chair Would Look Swell There, Captain

The school district isn't going to close a middle school for the upcoming school year. You'd think that would offer relief to parents and students, wouldn't you? But it doesn't. Delaying the inevitable closing of a middle school and an elementary school is only stirring up more angst.

Here's the reasoning: I don't want to disrupt Daisy by sending her to a middle school that is going to close after one year. Therefore, I'll put in a transfer to the highly desired middle school that no one in their right mind would consider closing.

[Let's not point out the error in thinking the decision-makers are, in fact, in their right mind.]

It's a very easy out for a couple of reasons. Two of the three middle schools are in NCLB Program Improvement because of sizable subgroups failing to pass tests. The third middle school -- just like the lottery elementary school Youngest attends -- doesn't have any of those subgroups in it nor does it even receive Title I funds (which throws it into NCLB purview).

Guess what the great minds have come up with at the district? For the coming school year -- the year in which they decide which schools they're going to mothball -- parents will be offered the opportunity to have their sixth grader stay at the K-5 elementary school.


You can send your child to one of the middle schools -- those are 6-8 grades -- or you can keep them at the K-5 school which will have 30 slots for any 6th graders who want to stay. At the elementary school. That they are supposed to "graduate from" at the end of this school year. To enter adolescence with the rest of the kids. And not play foursquare and wall ball anymore. And start meeting other people. And changing classes. And being the youngest on campus.

Now, it's not as if the district is saying it's going to make all the elementary schools K-6 and junior high 7-8 when they do their school closures. Oops! I mean "school consolidation." That's been bandied about, but to act as if that's a foregone conclusion calls the whole process of the committees and fact-finding missions a sham.

So why do this? Because so many people are using the double-edged sword of Program Improvement and threatened closure to go to the preferred middle school that it will be far too crowded. I'd be a hypocrite if I didn't say they have every right in the world to go to the highest achieving middle school. More power to them.

But let's own it. Let's not pretend you'd be sending your kid to the other school if only.

I'm trying to imagine what parent would leave their kid as one of only 30 sixth graders at the elementary school. I envision the overprotective mothers wanting it. I imagine far more girls than boys staying. I don't see any of the high-achievers staying because, as I understand it, the GATE program would only be at the middle school. [Hooray! A correct decision! Phew!]

So can we stop all that crap about how fifth grade is such a special year for these kids? At a minimum, I say any kid left behind can't go to the promotion ceremony. Hell, it's not like they're going anywhere.

[Photo courtesy]


Michele R said...

It would be very interesting to see which kids would stay back another year. What is the GATE program? Is that for the Challenge classes? Do they have the challenged or a/k/a gifted classes in elem school there?

Patois42 said...

Hey, Michele. The GATE is the Gifted And Talented Education program. There is one elementary school that houses 4th and 5th grade GATE classes (although it's at the lowest-scoring school so a lot of parents don't send their GATE-qualified kids to it). All the middle schools have their own GATE programs.

It occurs to me that this offering up the 6th grade class at each elementary site will serve as the PI requirement to offer the parents choice...without letting them choose the one middle school NOT in PI.

That makes the move VERY sneaky.

gudnuff said...

Ugh. This school stuff makes me want to sip gin all day long.

OK, what's "PI"? I already knew GATE (feeling smug about knowing one freakin' acronym in this discussion!).

We are having a HORRIBLE, VERY BAD, VERY NO-GOOD 4th grade year. I was surprised that another parent, in discussing why this year has demoralized our kids so thoroughly, proposed that the elementary schools should all be K-6. I think the idea behind that was that, this year in 4th grade, all we've heard from our kids' teacher and from the administration is "This is 4th grade! We have to get them ready for middle school!!!" Seriously?

gudnuff said...

No longer smug. PI = Program Improvement. It's right there in your post. Doh!

But what do you think? Do you think it's good to have the 9 and 10 year olds so "accountable" and so yelled-at during the school day that, by the time they come home, they burst into tears if you get frustrated because they haven't put their coat away by the third time you've asked them to put it away? Or they say, "Please don't yell at me. I've been yelled at all day long. I can't take it anymore."

Sometimes I think, if making them hate school in 4th grade is how you get them ready for middle school in 6th grade, then, yeah, maybe 6th grade SHOULD be part of elementary school. It used to be like that, anyway, didn't it? All I know is, hold them accountable, expect them to learn responsibility, but geesh, don't snap at them about it. Guide them. Teach them. Show them. Don't beat them down. I swear, this is where middle-school behaviors like cutting are born. I really think so.

Whew! Sorry for the long comment. This has been bottled up inside me for a while. And I'm too chickensh-- to write a post about it. Your post just pushed the right button to get me going. Plus, I really would like to hear your opinion. Are 4th graders in your neck of the woods hating school, when as 3rd graders, it was still fun to learn stuff?


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