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My Turn: Maybe Concord doesn’t need a middle school

There is an ominous silence coming from the halls and corridors in the Dewey School. That is not good news. While a new academic school year is beginning and a fresh generation of students is entering new grades, the school board is quietly burnishing the plans for a new middle school to replace the aging Rundlett Middle School.

There will be the usual public meetings to placate those of us who are growing weary of more and more school board property tax increases. The board will trot out all of the dire warnings that it is imperative to replace that school with a new, multi-million-dollar building designed to meet the challenges of the 21st-century educational experience. Translated, that means that they will again raise your property taxes.

Many progressive educators now believe that American middle schools (grades seven and eight) are educational wastelands with tradition-bound concepts that may need to be revisited. They served a noble function in the last century as junior high schools by providing practical courses in home economics and industrial arts, in addition to the usual core educational disciplines. Many students in that century could succeed in adult life with only a high school education, and junior high provided them with important learning opportunities.

Today, some students languish in middle school, where they struggle academically and emotionally (bullying is in crisis in many middle schools) while more gifted students that may be under-challenged get bored with the curriculum and want to move on to high school.

A 2012 Harvard University study confirmed that compared to K-8 or K-12 schools, students in middle schools did much poorer on achievement tests. The report went on to say that academic achievement losses were as much as four to seven months of learning. Also, middle school teachers often have little time to establish important educational relationships with students before the students move on to high school.

It may be time for the Concord School Board to consider eliminating our middle school.

According to the New England Common Assessment Program exam scores, Rundlett ranks 62nd out of 129 middle schools in New Hampshire. The huge costs to operate a stand-alone middle school can be as much as an expensive private school, and the educational benefits may be marginal or nonexistent.

Moving pre-teen students directly to high school will benefit both students and faculty. Four years of high school may not be enough to help challenged students prepare to succeed in later life. Judging by the number of remedial literacy classes at colleges, it is apparent that four years of high school are not working well in today’s public school environment.

Even the U.S. military is having difficulty recruiting academically qualified high school applicants. Adult success should be the focus of a well-developed high school curriculum.

The Concord School Board prides itself on being progressive, as demonstrated by committing considerable resources to build three new grade schools. Our school student census is down and now is the perfect opportunity to make a 21st-century leap into the future of modern education and begin a discussion on the merits of eliminating our middle school and transferring those assets and resources to our other schools.

(Jim Baer lives in Concord.)

Legacy Comments7

I developed a more radical idea years ago, after observing my children pass through middle school. It is to abolish middle school completely, and to put the students in some sort of work program for a couple of years, where they could get a real taste of the real world, like the apprenticeships we used to have before everybody went to high school. Then they would be far more ready to settle down and focus on real learning when they started high school. I admit I've never come up with a workable plan for how this would work, but I am convinced that middle school is mostly a maturing process and not a learning process. It's a time to adjust to rapidly changing hormones.

Believe they tried your idea many years ago overseas, JVK.; called it, "Hitler Youth".

Amen Dirty Larry. To imagine that people can think in that way and want to repeat history.

There are many reasons why mine might not be a good or workable idea, but trying to link it to Hitler seems like a really off the reservation argument against it.

Now you want to put them on a Reservation? Bad idea, paleface.

Thanks Jim for the statement that: "The huge costs to operate a stand-alone middle school (grades 7 + 8 ) can be as much as an expensive private school, " and for:" There will be the usual public meetings to placate those of us who are growing weary of more and more school board property tax increases. The board will trot out all of the dire warnings that it is imperative to replace that school with a new, multi-million-dollar building designed to meet the challenges of the 21st-century educational experience. Translated, that means that they will again raise your **** property taxes." / / / / / So here's an idea of to take it from: (1) the definition of the "common schools" that we are all supposed to be "in favor"* of and (2) by the religious of to help** the poor. The definition of the common schools is that of the grades below that of the high school. So if you integrate these grades 7 + 8 now in the Middle School into a "Junior" High School to be in the same building as the High School then the current become the "Senior" High School of grades 9 to 12, then you are actually supposed to be saving property taxes as we are only supposed to be "required" to pay for the "common schools". Get it? And HOW of to pay? For the poor to pay for the rich of those earning and living at or above the poverty line in the Reverse Robin Hood System we have now? No! By the Rose & Milton Friedman Plan *** of from Chapter 5 of their best-selling book of 1980 entitled: "Free to Choose" of to subsidize only the poor who "need" our help financially of maybe some of the parents of the poor children would rather have their child or children go to a private school in a lower grade for whatever reason(s) of that ought to be their decision not FORCED upon them to attend a government school! The N.H. Constitution reads in Article 38 in Part The First & Bill of Rights (that these public officials by RSA Chapter 42:1 + 92:2 supposedly did Article 84 "make and subscribe" their oath of to honor that the government is supposed to operate in "frugality" of to be frugal, of: based on "need". Of thus who NEEDS our help? Everyone? 100%? Like in a TOTAL-itarianism Regime? No. We are supposed to be in an Article IV, Section 4 U.S. Constitutional Republican form of government of the RSA 193-C:1 "Democracy" only when once within ***** the local school district, not the entire municipality! So only those who be poor need our help. And HOW? By being FORCED to GIVE to them? No, that would be against some religions (N.H. Article 5) like in the Bible of to LEND ** to the poor at zero interest expecting nothing back. So there needs to be a blending of the City Welfare with that of The School Board so that those of us, like me, who live outside the city limits, but work in the city and who would like to $donate to the poor in such a system, that there would be this WAY to do it. The Friedman Plan *** actually just an update of The Brentwood Plan of 1875 here in N.H. of the School District No. 2 lawsuit case to the N.H. Supreme Court back then of in Vol. 55 of The N.H. Reports 503 @ page 505, paragraph #2 of that reads something like: If the poor man or the poor child behaves himself honestly and uprightly, the state owes him the services of a schoolmaster and taxes the property of its more favored children in order to pay this debt as being an exemplification that is based upon the law of Christian charity. / / / / / footnotes: Thus to compare this "in favor"* to that of "in rigor juris", as by the strictness of law, in that the statute reads in RSA Ch. 80-:60 that you**** have "committed" your property / real estate to be taxed for such by your "implied consent" that if you want to opt out of you can so as to maybe put the pressure on those remaining of paying $more to somehow eventually get back to these basics. This is so because the word district ***** is territorial in nature of thus applicable by the common usage of the word by RSA Ch. 21:2 to mean that of in personam v.s. that of in rem as applicable to property unless you change the definition by your N.H. Article 1 "consent" of you'd think that the gov't would not mess with your explicit consent but that "they" have by presuming or should I say ass-u-me-ing that you have given your "implied consent" unless you opt out of such. So it's time for the "sheeple" to "wake up" to this Agenda of The Great "American Experiment" they call it of FREE Education for all of to get back to the basics of what this country was founded on and that you celebrate every July 4th as Independence Day of on the principle of: no taxation without representation, but that you agree to sponsor others through this implied consent, of I think it about time that you conduct your own Sponsorship(s), if any. 1:04 p.m.

Baer needs to be on the school board with another 11 like minded people. In addition all contract negotiations should be in public sessions - It works miracles when they do it in other locations

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