Pay $250 extra for ‘academic success’ but ‘meaningful connections’ are free

by Grace

This notice came in the mail recently, and when I read it I immediately felt a sense of unease in the pit of my stomach.  An eighth grader I know tried to offer comfort:  “They’re only trying to make money off the parents”.  Perhaps.

I thought the middle school had spent the last three years preparing students for the “rigors and academic challenges” of high school, teaching “technological skills, study skills and planning strategies”.  Does their curriculum not emphasize note-taking, organizational skills, internet research and an interdisciplinary approach?  It seems that “reading, writing, listening and speaking for information and literary appreciation” should have been pretty well covered.

Actually, the  middle school mission statement does not specifically mention any of those things.  Here is their stated vision for the  students.

We see our students as individuals who are willing to take chances and challenge themselves in order to become valued members and leaders of their community.

We want our children to:

  • Set high standards
  • Take risks, become well-rounded, and explore new opportunities
  • Establish a prideful work ethic and exercise strong time management skills
  • Develop personal responsibility, a love of learning, and problem-solving strategies
  • Appreciate the connections between rules, rights, and responsibilities
  • Practice civility, tolerance, and respect
  • Understand and respect boundaries
  • Engage in healthy, meaningful social relationships
  • Develop meaningful connections to their community

There is no explicit mention of preparing students for the “rigors and academic challenges” of high school.  All those mission goals sound lovely, but I’d like it better if our middle school expressed a stronger focus on preparing our children for “academic success” in high school instead of highlighting abstract objectives like developing “meaningful connections”.  After all,  words have consequences.

American middle schools have become the places “where academic achievement goes to die.”   —  Cheri Pierson Yecke

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