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In the late 1980s the Rochester City School District did away with 7-12 high schools and converted some to 6-8 middle schools. Instead of walking to Marshall High as my family planned, I had to take a bus to Charlotte for 7th grade. My two years there were the worst of my mostly-positive RCSD experience. The school was chaotic, crowded and violent. Putting one thousand kids ages 11-14 in one building was a disaster.

Needless to say, academic achievement did not improve in the middle schools. No one has the magic bullet, as this age group has proven to be tough to teach.

In the mid-2000’s, the district abandoned middle schools in favor of the 7-12 model. But then former superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard liked the K-8 model and moved to go to 9-12 and K-8 in some schools. Adding 7th and 8th grade to elementary schools is proving very expensive, as classroom and science lab space is required.

The New York Times published a series of short columns about the wisdom of middle schools. Some say being in the company of older high school students calms down the middle schoolers and offers more opportunities for academic enrichment. Others say being in an elementary school environment is more nurturing. Others say it doesn’t matter.

I tend to think 7th and 8th graders should be in high schools. They’re not babies anymore. Strong students would be able to take advanced classes. All students could be more prepared for the rigors of high school work. I can’t see an elementary school providing the range of activities and supports required.

What do you think?

The owners of Greece Ridge Mall would have us believe the mall could end up like Irondequoit Mall if they don’t get tax breaks. (COMIDA tabled the measure today, after pressure from the school district.)

– No matter what the Supreme Court decides on the health care law, one thing will remain the same: The nation’s hospitals will continue to be required to treat all people who come into their emergency rooms. Who pays for their care? We all do.

As Facebook decides whether to let 13-year-olds into its network, it is worth reading this article from Lenore Skenazy, my Free Range Kids hero. She discusses the “Myth of the Online Predator.” Unless your kids are playing in sex chat rooms advertises sex, they’ll be fine.

Some Rochester landscapers have banded together to make gardens out of vacant lots in the city. The group is trying to raise funds.

5 Responses to The Middle School Debate Will Never Die

  1. middle school years are some of the worst to navigate. I grew up in a public school system where sixth graders had a building to ourselves and it felt very safe and calm. Seventh and eighth grade felt very threatening. I don’t think you should have a 12 year old in the same building as an 18 year olds. There is such a huge jump in maturity that happens during these six years and kids need to stay the age they are for as long as possible and not be exposed to the subject matter- in or out of the classroom – that a 17 or 18 year old – can handle.

  2. June 19, 2012 at 3:39 pm theodore kumlander responds:

    let wilmirite pay for its own expansion. I mean isn’t that what being an entrapuner is all about risk taking , intive and ambition. I guess that only applies to tax payer money.

  3. All I know is whenever it was proposed to combine middle with high at east, the Browncroft neighbors went ballistic.

    One way to circumvent that situation was to get the kid into M.A.P. or G.A.T. programs during middle school years and the RCSD would sent them of to another middle school.

    The constant musical chairs played with city school district building planning with the Browncroft neighborhood elementary feeder system has always been a good thing for Mercy and McQuaid.

    It was also a good thing for real estate brokers.

  4. If u know anything about young people in the 7th and 8th grade you would know that they my not be babies but let me tell you they r not grown up. In fact they are disorganized, very absent minded and think the thing the do is hit the girl or bot they like. What they really need is to be preparing for high school while still on am elementary setting for some reason the school district thinks they learn it from some magical way . The only children that I know who were ready for high school were the kids from #7 school back on the 80’s

  5. June 20, 2012 at 9:54 am lynn e responds:

    I think middle school or what I went to,junior high school is fine. They are really not the best years of most people’s lives. Kids don’t need elementary school and 8th grade was put in those schools usually in Catholic schools to save building space. But in high schools with that great an age span is dangerous. There are 21 year olds in high schools. They can and do entice young kids into gangs,etc. It was always concerning that 14 year olds in 9th grade could be enticed by these older kids, a big reason some older,bad students were sent to Josh Lofton when it was around. Child development evidence is ignored in schools with early teens, kids go through a learning plateau as puberty begins and raises again in a couple of years. School curruculum planners refuse to acknowledge this plateau as this standards movement doesn’t seem to take being human into account. It is created to claim failure of public schooling.

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