Sunday, April 24, 2011

Oneida middle school plan makes sense


Like many residents of the Oneida City School District, I’ll need a lot more information before I decide whether to vote “Yes” or “No” on the budget on May 17.
One thing on which I don’t need any more information is the plan to move the district 6th-graders into the middle school. I’d be in favor even if it didn’t save a dime.
My lovely wife, Linda, and I had two children go through Otto Shortell Middle School, so we saw the current system’s shortcomings first-hand.
The biggest problem is that despite many of the teachers’ best efforts, it’s hard for them to develop closeness with many of the students in such a short time. This extra year will allow the teachers more time to reach out and mentor, something that benefits every kind of student.
And the kids, either they’re just newbies trying to find their way (not unlike high school freshmen) or they’re old hands focused on the next step (not unlike high school seniors). There are no analogues of the high school sophomores and juniors, who contribute so much to high schools.
Students’ time in middle school is, at its best, awkward and difficult. They lack the poise and coordination of high school students, but have already lost the cuteness of elementary students. For many it’s a time of clumsiness, self-consciousness and bullying. These kids need more attention and an extra year will make this possible.
I, for one, want to see the district go full-steam-ahead with this move. I only question why it took a budget crisis to do it.

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