Wow! The community forum at the A.A. Kingston Middle School this evening had teachers and parents strongly protecting their turf. Apparently, the Board of Education discussion on Tuesday night about possibly re-organizing the grades in the Middle School flew through the grapevine. Organizers of the event expected to need four tables for discussion groups but needed eight with all of the late registrants and walk-ins.
In my opinion, it was not an open minded group. I may have missed something, but I don't believe that any table reported out that their participants had any interest in discussing re-organization of grades 5-8. My table had members who were so vehement about the issue that my position, that considering re-organization compared to other choices has merit, was squashed with a diatribe lasting several minutes. It felt as if my children were in Middle School again and I was listening to Middle School teachers deny that my children were being bullied in their school, and certainly not by a teacher. There may be some merit to the current Middle School philosophies of recognizing and fostering individual differences or fostering communication and cooperation between parents, teachers and students but, in my opinion, they were not being modeled at my table.
Not all discussions at my table were so negative. There was some agreement that it is not fair that music is taking another hit and athletics is unscathed. The group thought that there should be some cuts in that area. They were not happy that there are 26/27 students in grades 4-6. There was agreement that more reserve money should be spent. Many thought that a school merger was a viable option, if another school could be talked into it. Considering that so many participants had a stake in the school, it wasn't surprising to me that they are willing to go to the max with a tax levy increase. Several tables reported the same opinion about the tax levy.
It will be interesting to observe how strong the Board of Education will be with their plans to consider the re-organization of grades 5-8. It is very difficult to stick with an unpopular idea, especially in the face of organized opposition. Tonight's meeting was just the beginning.