Opinion: We need something radical in middle school

Warren County’s consideration of moving sixth-graders back to elementary school and ninth-graders to middle school, as reported recently by The Daily Dispatch, got us thinking about Vance County Schools’ struggles with the middle schools.

Anecdotal evidence (which is strong enough when you have a child who’ll start sixth grade in five months) suggests that the three years of middle school are where our educational system is failing us most. You should be proud to send a child to any elementary school in Vance County, and the high schools, while still far from perfect, are on the right path and provide everyone a fair shot at a good education.

But those middle schools …

“It’s not as bad as you hear” is about the best you’ll hear about them. Maybe it’s the overcrowding. Maybe it’s the adjustment to a high-school-style class schedule. Maybe it’s the introduction of raging teen-age hormones into the educational mix. Maybe it’s the volatile mix of children ranging in age from 10 to 15. Maybe it’s just the time when kids are finally big enough to get into big trouble.

It’s probably a mix of all of those factors and more, and we have faith in Superintendent Norm Shearin to do everything possible to minimize those negative factors. So here’s one crazy suggestion to add to the mix: Take Warren County’s example one step further.

As part of Vance County Schools’ push for some kind of financing package for school construction, we urge Shearin to sell the county commissioners and the taxpayers on a reform that can work only with the third middle school the Board of Education is seeking.

That reform is to put one grade in each middle school. Let’s say sixth grade in the new school, Eaton-Johnson for seventh grade and Henderson Middle for eighth.

Each school could specialize in the unique issues for each grade, and each grade would be safe from the troubles and temptations of the others.

Hey, it’s worth a try, and it’s creative enough to win over some of those folks who would otherwise oppose a construction program that could put the county $25 million in debt. And after half a dozen capital proposals have gone nowhere with County Manager Jerry Ayscue and the Board of Commissioners the past four years, the schools need every vote they can get.car month used loan 72mortgage loans 809 9 sba loanloan access collegeprocessing accredited courses loanamerican cash advance loanspayday loan advance loan faxless paydayloan college aid financial grants Map