Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pay $250 extra for 'academic success' but 'meaningful connections' are free

This notice came in the mail a few days ago, and when I read it I immediately felt a sense of unease in the pit of my stomach.  An eighth grader I know tried to offer comfort:  "They're only trying to make money off the parents".  Perhaps.

I thought the middle school had spent the last three years preparing students for the "rigors and academic challenges" of high school, teaching "technological skills, study skills and planning strategies".  Does their curriculum not emphasize note-taking, organizational skills, internet research and an interdisciplinary approach?  It seems that "reading, writing, listening and speaking for information and literary appreciation" should have been pretty well covered.
Actually, the  middle school mission statement does not specifically mention any of those things.  Here is their stated vision for the  students.
We see our students as individuals who are willing to take chances and challenge themselves in order to become valued members and leaders of their community.
We want our children to:
  • Set high standards
  • Take risks, become well-rounded, and explore new opportunities
  • Establish a prideful work ethic and exercise strong time management skills
  • Develop personal responsibility, a love of learning, and problem-solving strategies
  • Appreciate the connections between rules, rights, and responsibilities
  • Practice civility, tolerance, and respect
  • Understand and respect boundaries
  • Engage in healthy, meaningful social relationships
  • Develop meaningful connections to their community
There is no explicit mention of preparing students for the "rigors and academic challenges" of high school.  All those mission goals sound lovely, but I'd like it better if our middle school expressed a stronger focus on preparing our children for "academic success" in high school instead of highlighting abstract objectives like developing "meaningful connections".  After all,  words have consequences.
American middle schools have become the places “where academic achievement goes to die.”   --  Cheri Pierson Yecke


  1. Depressing, and right in line with your post of yesterday about kids being less ready than ever for college. Gulp.

    In the town where I live, the large majority believe that the schools here are doing a great job, despite fuzzy mission statements that lack any clarity about academic achievement and Pew Research saying that kids are less prepared than ever. They'd prefer that the kids are "happy" than be held to any standard of measurement.

    The latest school board candidate won on a platform of "everything is great at our schools; let's keep the greatness safe from the people who want to change it."

  2. I didn't get one of these. But, this is really crass. I assume some company is sponsoring this? They are just playing off the fears of upper middle class families, like all those tutoring services.

  3. The message I get from our middle school is that the most important thing is to form a "community of caring", or something like that. Specifically, I have been told that with all the developmental issues middle school student have to deal with, putting too much emphasis on academics would be counterproductive.

    And then I get hit with a brochure that tells me that in four half-days they'll do the things I was expecting the middle school to take care of.

  4. I'm sure this was sent only to parents of 8th graders. The sponsor is an organization of teachers from our school and others in lower Westchester. They offer a variety of programs, including SAT prep courses.

  5. "putting too much emphasis on academics would be counterproductive."

    Back when I was in junior high, I always said "junior high is where they park you until your body gets big enough so you can go on to high school". I don't think we even had the "community of caring" in my junior high, let alone any academics!

  6. I went to a K-8 school, which I like and is making a comeback of sorts in some places.

  7. I would not want my kindergartner in a school with 8th graders.Absolutely not. Although, since we have Waverly, we could do a 2-8 school, which could make sense.

  8. BTW, my junior high (which was 7th, 8th, 9th) was appalling. Drugs and violence were rampant. I can remember kids roaming the halls during class time, coming into the classrooms and pulling chairs out from kids in class. The main form of discipline was paddling.There was no pretense of tracking, so we had classes with completely illiterate kids mixed in with kids who were advanced. This was in suburban KY, in the mid-70's. And it is why I don't complain so much about our schools here, because they are so much better.

  9. Hmm, I could see where parents would object to having kindergartners in the same building with 8th graders.

    Your junior high sounds horrible. In comparison to that, our schools are great and much better than many other public schools today.