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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.