Elimination at Jr. High

My Jr. High student at Jefferson has been informed that there is a good chance his Family and Consumer Education (FCE) and his Technology classes will not be at Jeffferson next year. I have heard ramblings about foreign language being reduced at Jr. High level as well.
This is where I begin to think Public Schools are going to continue to lose students. My son would never choose to take a foreign language or FCE. He is my “jock” and the wonderful cultural and diverse information he is receiving from foreign L.A. and F.C.E are the reason we keep sending our kids to a public school. If the public offerings dwindle to nothing, why would we, a middle to high income family continue to send our children to public schools? If MMSD continues eliminate the diversity and class selection, they can continue to see the decrease in high income students. Money is required to offer these classes, however, if the extra-curricula activities and interesting diverse classes are eliminated, the district will deal with less students, higher numbers of low income students, and the continual decrease of middle and high income students. Many will not see the significance of these numbers, but it is significant as costs rise to educate students that demand more social and psychological needs. The district needs to evaluate the long term effects of eliminating these programs.

4 thoughts on “Elimination at Jr. High”

  1. Mary_ We lost our Family & Consumer Ed, half of our language program, and 60% of our music programs at Blackhawk this past year. It’s budget cuts- we need our full time psych, social work and counselors (all of which were cut as well), so allocations had to be re-arranged to make the social/psych/counselor services full time. Word has it that FACE will return in some form. It’s no luxury, it’s a necessity, as we have a huge high risk population. Sending these sexually active 14 yr olds into the world with no education about the realities of life means many won’t make it through high school.
    I used to think that I saw the trend of higher student poverty on the northside more than the rest of town; I really can’t say I’m happy to see someone from Jefferson (and other schools that I talk with) noticing what we’ve been dealing with for a decade. It only confirms that Madison IS an urban school district. What you can do is what we’ve done: work to ensure that white flight is minimized by organizing parents and families and most of all, support the staff at your school. If you are noticing the trend as a parent, assume that the teachers and supporting professionals are immersed in the trend. These issues can and will be surmounted, it just takes a strong will!

  2. Yes, this is long. Sorry….
    We went to the parent-student orientation meeting at Toki last week, a large and allegedly “healthy” school (as opposed to the shrinking population of some of the East and NE schools, from what we hear). We were less than impressed. It was more like an info-mercial than anything else, and even what we were told was not cheering at all. Only after people started asking questions did we get much of the following info. There is no sixth grade foreign language, and 7th and 8th grade foreign languages (which may or may not also be cut in the next year or two) are available as French and Spanish only. Art is six weeks out the year, as part of a rotation through “all” of the UA’s (such as they still exist). The only choice sixth graders have is whether they will take band, orchestra or chorus. If you don’t choose one, in their words, they “will probably place you in chorus”. How heartening for the kids who might have chosen chorus. You can only choose orchestra if you already took strings (which we all know is also usually proffered on the sacrifical slab and rescued – somewhat – at the last moment), because there is no “intro”. If you don’t pick band the first year, you won’t get to take it any other year, because only sixth grade band has any “intro” topics/units at all.
    Also, when a parent asked if it was possible for sixth graders to take classes with kids from other grades, she received a reaction that one might give someone with three heads who asked if we would get to travel to Pluto this year. They literally did not even understand the question. When given details and examples, they did admit that a FEW kids could sometimes take seventh grade math, if their elementary teachers suggested it and they excelled on a test. They felt it was “important” in all subjects to keep sixth graders only with other sixth graders. After all (excuse my momentary sarcasm), heterogenous grouping is important (only within the narrow parameters of chronological age, of course), and we wouldn’t want the kids who start out achieving well to stay involved and enthusiastic. Not necessarily what they meant to get across, but it was the message we received – and we had come to this meeting trying to be open and interested.
    I really wanted to be able to be excited about the potential of middle school. I am definitely no longer as excited. I think our son (and not because we are talking it down) is palpably afraid that he will not get into Spring Harbor and will “have to” go to Toki.
    We were led to believe beforehand that because Toki is so much bigger and more diverse, they can offer more choices, more flexibility and more personal investment in choices than SH. If anything, they came across (again, likely not meaning to) as though they were less flexible and less likely to offer options to a truly needy or truly accelerated student.
    All this comes in spite of a generally well-involved and concerned parent population (for a middle school) for a larger and diverse student body. I have one friend who has taught for several years in both Milwaukee and MMSD, and she has confided that she sees Madison becoming more and more like Milwaukee each year in terms of schools (read, ‘failing’), and would not even want her own children attending school here anymore, in spite of their diversity of background and needs. It saddens me to understand more every week what she means, when I have been fighting to keep my own kids learning and excited for so long, and it doesn’t look like there are any breaks coming anytime soon in that fight.
    When a system where we pay almost $5,000 per year in property taxes (and seem to get further into debt each year to do so) struggles this much with funding and appropriateness of educational offerings year after year, the system is far beyond “broken”, and tending towards fully non-functional.

  3. Important information regarding sixth grade math placement:
    This will be the fourth year in a row where all fifth graders across the District who meet certain performance criteria in math (WKCE math score, report card grades in math, and/or teacher recommendation) will be invited to take a test for determining their sixth grade math placement. (Note: All fifth grade parents will receive a letter explaining they they can ask to have their fifth grade child take the test whether or not they met the criteria — this was as close as everyone could agree on to testing every fifth grader.) Students who do well on the test will be placed into 7th grade CMP. Students who do really well on the test will take a second test (and possibly a third — an algebra readiness screener) in order to determine if they should be placed even further ahead than 7th grade CMP, that is, into 8th grade CMP or possibly algebra. I
    This should be common knowledge — especially for fifth grade parents — and especially for middle school principals.

  4. Millie,
    I don’t know if Sennett still practices this but a few years ago they would have kids 6-8 in a house for most classes, and rotate the curriculum over 3 years. I don’t know exactly how this worked, but this is my understanding of the program. In history, they would have one year of US history and depending on the year, a student would be in this program at 6,7, or 8th grade. From what I was told, it was great for the higher end 6th and 7th graders because they would just do the harder assignments, not so for higher end 8th graders. So it sounds like at least some of the district understood the concept at least at one time.

Comments are closed.