Amato wants to phase out most middle schools and begin adding sixth through eighth grades to elementary schools...
patron Stacy Evans said she likes the idea of children growing through a neighborhood school all the way to high school.
“I don’t think middle schools work,” she said. “I really like the idea” of K-8 schools.
Amato cites research that says middle-years students perform better in K-8 schools. Students will grow up “in a familial atmosphere where they know the teachers, they know the students."
I'm not an expert on education. Not by any stretch. But when I was working on my book, interviewing kids and their parents, a consistent plotline emerged:
Kids tend to fall off in the sixth grade.
I've got a lot of theories about why this happens, some of which are outrageously radical, so I won't go into them here. But one theory that seems to have some credence is the notion that kids need the nurturing environment of elementary to extend into the early years of puberty.
The years of 12 through 14 are already traumatic enough without having to add the stress of going to a whole new school, with a whole new culture and set of rules (and without recess).
I'm not sure yet about Amato. He's making a lot of changes, real fast. But this K-8 idea really resonates with me.
I don't know if it's the solution. But we have to try something. We're losing way too many kids during these crucial adolescent years.