Benefits of K-8: CHANGE IS COMING ONE WAY OR ANOTHER!

“We’re going to have to do less of what we’ve been doing or change what we’re going to do”. Governor Kitzhaber

I posted the below article about the Benefits of K-8 and links in the past, but given the hidebound “we can’t change” attitude I see from the Molalla School District and its hidebound teachers, who have been trained to have blinders on, I am posting the information again.

First, here are a couple of quotes from this week’s Pioneer that outline the mess we have on our hands – teachers who are so entrenched and so lacking in creativity that they can’t imagine CHANGE or the need for INNOVATION IN SCHOOL CONFIGURATION (even when tons of facts are available about the benefits of K-8)  and a School Board that failed miserably to prepare the community for the reality of the financial disaster to come: quote:

“MRMS school math teacher Pat Tindall spoke on behalf of 36 teachers and said that closing the middle school will be detrimental to their abilities to educate children effectively.

“Middle schools are there for a reason. They’re there because they are developmentally appropriate for kids,” he said. “Please understand we will work with you to do whatever we can to help these kids, but closing the middle school is not a viable option.”

Board President Janette Palmer said the decision on whether or not to close the school will not be taken lightly and they plan to schedule another public forum after the holidays to continue exploring options.

“Our reality is an enormous budget cut next year,” board member Pam Briscoe said. “If we don’t close the middle school, something else has got to go. We just don’t have enough money to do it all.” end quote

How head in the sand can teachers like Tindall be? I guess once you get your “degree” in mainstream “education” you are always stuck with the idea that there is NO OTHER WAY.

I’d say Tindall and the middle school teachers really should have said “There is no viable option for us teachers to adjust to having to work with any new educational model”. Kids are adaptable – and could even benefit from change – but mainstream teachers like Tindall are always loathe to have to deal with anything that rocks their plodding low ball mainstream “educational” routine.

That’s a BIG part of the problem – the inability of the teachers to accept CHANGE. Do we want people who can’t accept or configure CHANGE teaching our children? Tindall and his fellow teachers’ negative, inflexible attitude about CREATIVE CHANGE sure leads me to think the prognosis for their ability to help students employ creative thinking would be very low. Mainstream “education” is all about filling in the blanks just so – and not coloring outside the lines. How sad and how limiting for the kids!

Change is coming folks – and whether you like it or not, there will be FAR LESS MONEY for all public endeavors for the coming years. You can rail and you can wish for “how it was” but only those who are innovative and able to accept change will survive. That includes mainstream “education”  – and I put “education” in quotes when next to mainstream because the current struggle in Molalla to try to preserve past practice in the face of obvious financial disaster is pathetic.It has nothing to do with “education” or teaching kids to think for themselves – it is all about parents and teachers stuck in the past.

News flash: The past led us to this MASSIVE FAILURE.

I’m going to practice “tough love” toward mainstream “education” because from what I have seen, parents and teachers are far more concerned about buildings and preserving “how we always did it in the PAST” than trying to find better and more affordable ways to EDUCATE.

Hey Tindall and your band of “we can’t change” middle school teachers – how about year around school, using only the best buildings? Then put whatever programs you want together and use LESS for infrastructure. I bet the “teachers” would have a fit about that, too!

Whatever happens, things won’t EVER be the same as in the past – and I for one think this financial disaster might be the best way to kick our society – and our mainstream FAILED “education”  – out of its former lethargy.

Maybe we need to pretend that mainstream “education” is a falling down drunk that has almost hit bottom? Big changes have to happen for that falling down drunk to climb back up again. Hitting bottom might actually be the best thing that ever happen to mainstream “education”. All and any options need to be on the table – to pretend there is only one model will ensure the “drunk” stays in the gutter of failure.

Some perceptive parents already saw the bottom coming and started innovative local charters. What’s up, mainstream supporters? What INNOVATIONS can you provide to ensure that EDUCATION is at the forefront? Or do your sad blinders only allow you to see that “way we always did it” that led to the gutter mainstream fake “education” mess we have today? It sure seems that mainstream teachers don’t have the capacity to advocate for change – what does that tell you about the quality of the teachers? Quote and links:

“The Benefits of the K-8 Configuration

In recent years, many urban school districts have moved to close troubled 6-8 middle schools and have reconfigured elementary schools to serve grades K-8 in their place. Districts such as Boston, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Newark, New Orleans, New York City, Oklahoma City, and Philadelphia were some of the first urban districts to reconfigure schools in this way. Some of the benefits cited for the transformation to the K-8 configuration include:

Increased test scores

Several studies on grade configuration have reported middle schools to be less effective in terms of test scores than K-8 schools in the same district. The evidence is especially strong for students in high-poverty schools and rural schools. (Tucker & Andrada, 1997; Wihry, Coladarci, & Meadow, 1992; Franklin & Glascock, 1998; Offenberg, 2001)

Improved student discipline

Some large middle schools containing a concentrated group of adolescents have experienced a large number of discipline problems resulting in office referrals, in- and out-of-school suspensions, and expulsions. The belief is that closing middle schools and moving the students to smaller, less crowded K-8 schools with greater parental involvement and greater student accountability will lead to a reduction in undesirable outcomes and improved student discipline. For example, Franklin & Glascock (1998) found that sixth and seventh graders had fewer suspensions and better attendance in K-8 schools than in middle schools.

Relief of overcrowding in some large middle schools

Most districts have many more elementary schools than middle schools. When districts face overcrowding issues at the middle school level, shifting students to smaller, less crowded elementary schools can reduce overcrowding in middle schools. (George, 2005)

Eliminating a big transition

Shifting to a K-8 model would require one less school transition for students. Alspaugh (1998) found a significant achievement loss following each school-to-school transition. A statistically significant achievement loss was associated with the transition from elementary to middle school at the sixth grade, when compared to K-8 schools that did not have a transition after sixth grade. Blyth, Simmons, & Bush (1978) found that adolescent girls suffered from a drop in self-esteem, extracurricular participation, and leadership behaviors following the transition to middle school, but not when they remained in a K-8 school. For adolescent boys, a similar drop-off was found for extracurricular participation and grades. Since student performance, extracurricular participation, and self-esteem tends to drop off after students transition into middle school, it is thought that students who remain in their elementary schools would benefit academically from only going through one school transition rather than two transitions.

Longer and potentially more positive teacher-student relationships and increased parent involvement

Students and parents who remain in a K-8 school for nine years are more likely to build and maintain more positive relationships with teachers over time and maintain higher levels of parental involvement than the typical middle school. (George, 2005)

Lengthier stay in a neighborhood school

In recent years, many districts have expressed a desire to preserve neighborhood schools. The shift to K-8 neighborhood schools allows students to stay in their neighborhood schools for a longer period of time. (George, 2005)

More collaboration between elementary and secondary teachers

Bringing elementary and middle school teachers together could lead to greater collaboration and enriched curriculum opportunities for students. The typical elementary school could become a place where subject matter depth and expertise is more highly valued and effectively utilized than before the K-8 reorganization. Secondary teachers could come to see the value of the “whole child” perspective of the elementary schools. This new balance could enrich the perspectives and curriculum at the elementary and secondary level inside the K-8 school. (George, 2005)

References:

Alspaugh, J.W. (1998). Achievement Loss Associated with the Transition to Middle School and High School. Journal of Educational Research, 92(1), 20-25.

Blyth, D.A., Simmons, R.G., & Bush, D. (1978). The Transition into Early Adolescence: A Longitudinal Comparison of Youth in Two Educational Contexts. Sociology of Education, 51(3), 149-162.

Franklin, B.J. & Glascock, C.H. (1998). The Relationship Between Grade Configuration and Student Performance in Rural Schools. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 14(3), 149-153.

George, P.S. (2005). K-8 or Not? Reconfiguring the Middle Grades. Middle School Journal. 37(1), 6-8.

Offenberg, R. (2001). The Efficacy of Philadelphia’s K-to-8 Schools Compared to Middle Grade Schools. Middle School Journal, 32(4), 23-29.

Tucker, C.G. & Andrada, G.N. (1997, March). Accountability Works: Analysis of Performance By Grade Span of School. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, IL. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 332 367).

Wihry, D.F., Coladarci, T., & Meadow, C. (1992). Grade Span and Eighth-Grade Academic Achievement: Evidence from a Predominantly Rural State. Journal of Research in Rural Education, 8(2), 58-70.

http://www.middleweb.com/MWLresources/K8schools.html

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06176/700759-53.stm

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