Middle schools not the answer
The greatest failure of 20th century education has been the ‘achievement gap;’ created by promoting students to grade levels beyond their reading ability.
I applaud the school board for attempting something different, especially during such trying times. But, are middle schools the answer? In a Post article acting program director Cathy Viva seemed genuine but overly optimistic (Retired teacher concerned middle schools won’t improve academics, July 14). She mentioned assurances such as tracking being in place to monitor middle schools, but she didn’t respond when asked what were the expected outcomes. Shouldn’t improving that ‘achievement gap’ be the primary outcome of any model?
We’ve heard such assurances before with whole language, semestering, inclusion and large schools. But the main outcomes delivered by those blunders were chaos and mediocrity. I would like to believe that middles schools would be the genesis moment that education so badly needs, but I can’t ignore the 50 plus years of failure in the United States. Why are they continually outperformed by highly compartmentalized P-8 schools? Why are we again pilfering the educational trash bin of a country whose education system ranks between 14th and 23rd place in the world?
The less compartmentalized middle school does offer valuable options, especially in the area of relationship building. But struggling students have fared more poorly than in P-8 schools, and middle schools have perpetuated an even greater ‘achievement gap’ than did junior high schools. Obviously, the relationship building wasn’t followed by methodology that was relevant or rigorous enough to produce the expected academic outcomes.
The criticism of middle schools is they focus more on group work and socialization than on academic achievement. Is that what is needed in an area with diminished parenting skills, seriously reduced academic expectations and peer group promotions; where students can ignore assignment due dates for weeks and months, and miss 40-50 school days without repercussions?
Aren’t those the real issues in education, regardless of the model? Shouldn’t we replace the rotten spokes before we try to reinvent the wheel? Al Moore Glace Bay