By Hank Pellissier
The middle school concept — instituted only four decades ago and operating nowhere else in the world — has long been regarded as the "weakest link" in our educational system. Studies of distinct regions often indicate that middle schools have increased discipline problems and truancy, plus sagging test scores in reading, math, and science. Why? Critics suggest that wrenching fragile prepubescents from an established K-5 community of parents, faculty, and students and heaving them into huge classes of strangers impairs learning. Middle school proponents contend that multiple classes and a variety of teachers improve academic quality and prepare kids for the culture shock of high school.
Wherever you come down on the subject, it’s worth noting that middle schools — which replaced the equally loathed junior high schools — have been given an "F" in numerous cities. Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Philadelphia, San Antonio, and others are gradually replacing them by expanding elementary schools into K-8s. If these cities are a harbinger of what’s to come, middle schools will dwindle in the 2010s.
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