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Taking Middle Schoolers Out of the Middle
New York Times ^ | 23 January 2007 | Elissa Gootman

Posted on 01/23/2007 7:01:50 AM PST by shrinkermd

...The schools share the premise that the way to reverse years of abysmal middle school performance is to get rid of middle schools entirely. But they represent opposite poles in the sharp debate over whether 11- through 13-year-olds are better off pushed toward adulthood or coddled a little longer.

Should the nurturing cocoon of elementary school be extended for another three years, shielding 11-year-olds from the abrupt transition to a new school, with new students and teachers, at one of the most volatile times in their lives?

Paul Vallas, chief executive of the Philadelphia school system, thinks so, and he has closed 17 traditional middle schools since 2002, while converting some three dozen elementary schools into K-8s. “The fifth to sixth grade transition is just too traumatic,” he said. “At a time when children are undergoing emotional, physical, social changes, and when they need stability and consistency, suddenly they’re thrust into this alien environment.”

Others argue that 11-, 12- and 13-year-olds thrive in the presence of older role models and reminders of concrete goals, like playing varsity sports and getting into college.

“Kids are forward-looking — they don’t get nostalgic for second grade when they’re in third grade,” said Larry Woodbridge, principal of the Secondary School for Law in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where the award-winning high school debate team will teach a middle school social studies unit this spring.

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Unclassified
KEYWORDS: end; middle; school
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I agree with an expert late in the article who believes what is needed is smaller class size and teachers better trained in the subject matter they teach.
1 posted on 01/23/2007 7:01:52 AM PST by shrinkermd
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To: shrinkermd
teachers better trained in the subject matter they teach

This would solve a lot of the problems in public schools. Abolish the Federal Department of School Board and you'd solve quite a bit more. Throw in decent parents who help their kids with their homework, and you're well on the way to creating a productive and smart generation.

If you want to go the rest of the way, kill off or imprison anyone who has ever appeared on E! Entertainment Television.

2 posted on 01/23/2007 7:06:11 AM PST by SittinYonder (Ic ■Št gehate, ■Št ic heonon nelle fleon fotes trym, ac wille fur­or gan)
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To: Clintonfatigued; DaveLoneRanger; 2Jedismom; Aggie Mama; agrace; Antoninus; arbooz; bboop; blu; ...

ANOTHER REASON TO HOMESCHOOL

This ping list is for the "other" articles of interest to homeschoolers about education and public school. If you want on/off this list, please freepmail me. The main Homeschool Ping List by DaveLoneRanger handles the homeschool-specific articles.
3 posted on 01/23/2007 7:07:34 AM PST by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: shrinkermd

There's virtually nothing that can make this stage of life easier; it just comes with the territory.

I hated those years in school, they were the worst in my life.


4 posted on 01/23/2007 7:09:31 AM PST by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: shrinkermd

Class size doesn't matter as much as class makeup. They need to put the smart kids with the smart kids. That way, you aren't dragging down the achievers with the underachievers. Don't place ceilings on achievement. Put the bad kids with the bad kids so they don't drag down the other kids.


5 posted on 01/23/2007 7:16:10 AM PST by AppyPappy (If you aren't part of the solution, there is good money to be made prolonging the problem.)
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To: SittinYonder

>>If you want to go the rest of the way, kill off or imprison anyone who has ever appeared on E! Entertainment Television.<<

Truer words never have been spoken!


6 posted on 01/23/2007 7:16:43 AM PST by netmilsmom (To attack one section of Christianity in this day and age, is to waste time.)
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To: shrinkermd

Absolutely

Teachers are needed that actually want to teach, not having it as a fall-back. Although Mr. Holland's Opus shows that some people may not initially have the desire to teach.


7 posted on 01/23/2007 7:17:55 AM PST by wastedyears ("Gun control is hitting your target accurately." - Richard Marcinko)
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To: shrinkermd
Let them all apprentice for locksmiths and plumbers and carpenters and butchers and whatever else. Then give them the choice to go back to high school or learn and earn their trade.

TS
Semi-joking, i think.

8 posted on 01/23/2007 7:20:06 AM PST by Tanniker Smith (I didn't know she was a liberal when I married her.)
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To: shrinkermd

13-year olds should not be on a campus with 1st and 2nd graders. The physical size difference is very intimidating for the little ones.


9 posted on 01/23/2007 7:38:14 AM PST by BigBobber
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To: shrinkermd
Should the nurturing cocoon of elementary school be extended for another three years, shielding 11-year-olds from the abrupt transition to a new school, with new students and teachers, at one of the most volatile times in their lives?

I have an idea. How about letting parents make that decision? After all, parents are their children's natural guardians and educators.

Give them vouchers and let them make the decision. Leave the bureaucrats out of it. Are we a free country or what?

10 posted on 01/23/2007 7:41:16 AM PST by Aquinasfan (When you find "Sola Scriptura" in the Bible, let me know)
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To: AppyPappy

I agree that class size isn't as important as it's assumed to be. Small is better, but not necessary. And I've even seen different achievement levels work in one classroom, although I think your overall point is a good one. I sat in one class where the high achievers were given an opportunity to learn the subject material quickly and take a test near the beginning of a unit (this was an 8th English Grammar class, so some students were able to do this). They were then placed at the back of the class at a row of computers where they could work somewhat on their own with some teacher supervision on other, related projects. It was fascinating to see this operate. I think it also gives slower students something to work toward. But the teacher has to be very skilled to pull this off. And this teacher was.


11 posted on 01/23/2007 7:43:46 AM PST by twigs
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To: BigBobber
13-year olds should not be on a campus with 1st and 2nd graders. The physical size difference is very intimidating for the little ones.

It depends on the school. Our kids go to a parochial K-8 school. The older kids are role models to the younger kids. The upper grades are given jobs to help to teach them caring interaction with the younger ones (collecting their lunch money, leading them to their classrooms in the morning, helping them with Christmas art projects, etc.). Our 1st and 2nd graders are not intimidated by them.

12 posted on 01/23/2007 7:50:49 AM PST by NewsJunqui
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To: twigs

The smart kids generally care about school and competitive. You don't want the other kids badmouthing their efforts and you want them to get bored.

High school does this with AP classes. Our middle school has "smart classes" and it works really well.


13 posted on 01/23/2007 7:51:18 AM PST by AppyPappy (If you aren't part of the solution, there is good money to be made prolonging the problem.)
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To: NewsJunqui

I think that's the best way to do school. It works in a parochial setting, but I'm not sure it would in a public school, at least not without very careful screening of the kids who will be allowed to help the younger ones.


14 posted on 01/23/2007 7:57:01 AM PST by twigs
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To: shrinkermd

Middle schools are some of the absolutely stupidiest educational concepts every unleashed.

k-8 and then 9-12, period.

To put 6-8 in their own little nonsensical world is idiotic.

Just at a time when they should be stepping up to play a leadership role and mentoring role to younger students, we put them in a world where its just a bunch of confused kids just like themselves every day.

No incentive to "grow up", no one "looking up" to them.. .no new responsibilities to undertake... etc etc etc.

Foolishness


15 posted on 01/23/2007 8:05:43 AM PST by HamiltonJay
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To: HamiltonJay
Middle schools are some of the absolutely stupidiest educational concepts every unleashed.

But middle schools have an important function -- increasing the number of administrators and support personnel by 50%.

16 posted on 01/23/2007 8:17:16 AM PST by omega4412 (Multiculturalism kills. 9/11, Beslan, Madrid, London)
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To: shrinkermd

What goes around comes around.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Bring back Junior High School.

Homeschooling BUMP!!!


17 posted on 01/23/2007 8:26:24 AM PST by upchuck (Wanted: Conservatives to go read this: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1771175/posts)
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To: shrinkermd

YEP....Bill Gates is TRYING to get school districts to have SMALLER schools also....instead of the gigantic ones they have built.....but they are fighting him. Interesting tidbid some may not know.....Seattle School District LOST its funding from the GATES Foundation because they failed to live up to the requirements! (Last year or the year before....can't remember.)


18 posted on 01/23/2007 8:31:45 AM PST by goodnesswins (We need to cure Academentia)
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To: Aquinasfan
Are we a free country or what?

"What."

19 posted on 01/23/2007 8:43:14 AM PST by Tax-chick ("You're not very subtle, but you are effective.")
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To: Tax-chick
"What."

That's what! ;-)

20 posted on 01/23/2007 10:54:27 AM PST by Aquinasfan (When you find "Sola Scriptura" in the Bible, let me know)
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To: goodnesswins

The small rural schools tend to turn out more rounded students because the students are able to take part in more activities.

Someone told me the monster high schools exist only by virtue of football.


21 posted on 01/23/2007 11:17:42 AM PST by perseid 67
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To: shrinkermd

Should the nurturing cocoon of elementary school be extended for another three years, shielding 11-year-olds from the abrupt transition to a new school, with new students and teachers, at one of the most volatile times in their lives? Paul Vallas, chief executive of the Philadelphia school system, thinks so, and he has closed 17 traditional middle schools since 2002, ( from, the Article) ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Parents are in the best position to know if their own children should be in a middle school or grade school setting. Parents know better than any Philadelphia bureaucrat what is best for their child.

Solution: Begin the process of privatizing universal K-12 education. Let these decisions be made privately by parents, teachers, and principals in private settings in private schools!

Re: The Institutionalization of Children

It is my opinion that institutionalizing of children in factory-like schools is unnatural and unhealthy ( both physically and emotionally) for children. That people are debating over grade school or middle school settings is merely trying to decide which poison is less damaging.

Homeschooling is the most natural and healthy way to raise a child. Yes, it is unfortunate that many children can not be homeschooled. Yes, it is a shame that some parents are so poor, or dysfunctional, or were so poorly educated by the government that they are incapable of teaching their children. These children will need to be institutionalized. If institutionalization is necessary, then parents should be determining if it is middle school or grade school.

Yes, some children will need to be institutionalized for their education. We need orphanages too but no one is arguing that orphanages are the best way to raise a child.

22 posted on 01/23/2007 11:25:41 AM PST by wintertime (Good ideas win! Why? Because people are not stupid)
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To: SittinYonder

would solve a lot of the problems in public schools.

I have joking posted that all education majors should be required to take and pass Calculus I. Even requiring them to take and pass Calculus III would be better. Why? Answer: It would assure that those teaching our nation's children had the minimum IQ for the job.

Abolish the Federal Department of School Board and you'd solve quite a bit more.

Agreed!

Throw in decent parents who help their kids with their homework, and you're well on the way to creating a productive and smart generation.

Even if children attend school, if they are academically successful, it is due to the "homeschooling" done by the parents in the evening around the kitchen table. What the school is doing is sending home a free curriculum. It is the parents who are seeing that the homework is complete, neat, and mastered by the child. Once the child is reasonably literate, it is the child who really self-educating himself, and the parents who are creating a home in which the child's efforts at self-education are encouraged and rewarded.

The parents of academically successful schooled children are doing everything that I did as a homeschooling parent. The only difference is that the schooled child has far less time for active and creative play, and tend to be fatter.

23 posted on 01/23/2007 11:36:15 AM PST by wintertime (Good ideas win! Why? Because people are not stupid)
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To: SittinYonder

would solve a lot of the problems in public schools.

I have joking posted that all education majors should be required to take and pass Calculus I. Even requiring them to take and pass Calculus III would be better. Why? Answer: It would assure that those teaching our nation's children had the minimum IQ for the job.

Abolish the Federal Department of School Board and you'd solve quite a bit more.

Agreed!

Throw in decent parents who help their kids with their homework, and you're well on the way to creating a productive and smart generation.

Even if children attend school, if they are academically successful, it is due to the "homeschooling" done by the parents in the evening around the kitchen table. What the school is doing is sending home a free curriculum. It is the parents who are seeing that the homework is complete, neat, and mastered by the child. Once the child is reasonably literate, it is the child who really self-educating himself, and the parents who are creating a home in which the child's efforts at self-education are encouraged and rewarded.

The parents of academically successful schooled children are doing everything that I did as a homeschooling parent. The only difference is that the schooled child has far less time for active and creative play, and tend to be fatter.

24 posted on 01/23/2007 11:36:17 AM PST by wintertime (Good ideas win! Why? Because people are not stupid)
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To: perseid 67
Someone told me the monster high schools exist only by virtue of football.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Hm?......What an interesting observation! And...there is likely a lot of truth in this.

So...Why should taxpayers be running and supporting farm teams for the big leagues? Surely the NBA and NFL are wealthy enough to develop and run their own farm team leagues.
25 posted on 01/23/2007 11:39:18 AM PST by wintertime (Good ideas win! Why? Because people are not stupid)
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To: metmom
There's virtually nothing that can make this stage of life easier; it just comes with the territory.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Homeschoolers who have been homeschooled from the beginning don't seem to suffer the angst of pre-teen and teen years?

The "territory" comes with being forced into a factory-like "territory" of institutional schooling. Segregate children by same-aged packs and you will get Lord of the Flies dysfunction.

It is the institutional school that is dysfunctional and produces dysfunctional children.
26 posted on 01/23/2007 11:43:13 AM PST by wintertime (Good ideas win! Why? Because people are not stupid)
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To: Aquinasfan

Or WHAT?!?!?!

... depending on the respondent :-).

On the topic, I don't think I'd prefer to have my 7-year-old at school with a lot of 13-year-olds ... and I don't want my 13-year-old at school with 18-year-olds. Especially my daughters.


27 posted on 01/23/2007 11:43:42 AM PST by Tax-chick ("You're not very subtle, but you are effective.")
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To: NewsJunqui
The older kids are role models to the younger kids.

The "Early Childhood Education" lab at my school :-) ...

"Why are our babies cuter than everyone else's babies?"
"Because they look like you, Bill!"

28 posted on 01/23/2007 11:46:40 AM PST by Tax-chick ("You're not very subtle, but you are effective.")
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To: NewsJunqui

My kids also attend a K-8 (Catholic) school, and like your own kids' experience, ours has been nothing but good with this system.

The younger ones are never EVER upset by the looming presence of some of the eight graders, even though to them, they are "grown ups" just as much as any teacher. The older ones seem charmed by the little ones, and love the responsibilites given to them ("Church buddy" is one of them...each K-2 child has a church buddy from the 6-8th grade). Everybody enjoys the relationship between the two groups, older and younger kids alike. I often see a little one spy his church buddy in the hallway and, when they pass, there is always a kind word, a smile, even a small hug between them. It's lovely to see.

My big guy is in 5th grade this year, and my little guy in 3rd, so neither has a church buddy this time around, by the 5th grader can't WAIT to be the "big" church buddy, and the 3rd grader still has a wave and a big smile for his former buddy who is now assigned to a kindergartener. (I think he's a little jealous.)

Anyway, I like the K-8 system. It gives the younger students someone to look up to, and it offers the older ones the opportunity to BEGIN to have some responsibilities in a safe environment that is well chaperoned by the adults in the building.

Regards,


29 posted on 01/23/2007 11:58:58 AM PST by VermiciousKnid
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To: Tax-chick

Too cute! You are blessed.


30 posted on 01/23/2007 12:08:27 PM PST by teawithmisswilliams (Basta, already!)
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To: shrinkermd

Well hell the NYTimes in a recent frontpage story, included 15 year olds as never been married putting them in the same bracket as 20 and 30 year olds.


31 posted on 01/23/2007 12:11:04 PM PST by mware (By all that you hold dear.. on this good earth... I bid you stand! Men of the West!)
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To: wintertime

I am always amazed at the gall of homeschool critics who say parents should not be allowed to educate their children ,because most parents are not well educated. Well, most people are not well educated because of the public school system. Many people seriously have no trouble demanding parents use school systems which have failed them in the past.


32 posted on 01/23/2007 12:14:40 PM PST by perseid 67
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To: AppyPappy

"Put the bad kids with the bad kids"
Yes,but pity the poor teacher that gets stuck with a class of thirty of these bad actors.


33 posted on 01/23/2007 12:14:47 PM PST by Riverman94610
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To: shrinkermd

I went to Junior High (7th through 9th grades), it was fun beating up 7th graders as a 9th grader....


34 posted on 01/23/2007 12:16:46 PM PST by dakine
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To: upchuck


reason # 3,012 why homeschooling (done right) is the best way to go. i know not everyone can or wants to do it. but the benefits are so incredible. and you get to know your children at a level that is impossible if you're at work all day, and they're at school.


35 posted on 01/23/2007 12:17:36 PM PST by adopt4Him (The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.)
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To: Tax-chick
On the topic, I don't think I'd prefer to have my 7-year-old at school with a lot of 13-year-olds ... and I don't want my 13-year-old at school with 18-year-olds. Especially my daughters.

Me either. I also want my money back for my years spent in middle school. Taxpayers spent $30k to torture me for three years. It would have been cheaper to keep me at home and force me to watch "Wally Gator" reruns for three years.

36 posted on 01/23/2007 12:24:28 PM PST by Aquinasfan (When you find "Sola Scriptura" in the Bible, let me know)
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To: wintertime
Why should taxpayers be running and supporting farm teams for the big leagues? Surely the NBA and NFL are wealthy enough to develop and run their own farm team leagues.

Actually, the state colleges are the farm teams for the NBA and NFL. What's worse is that the employees don't even get paid, except with worthless degrees in Hotel Management and Phys Ed.

37 posted on 01/23/2007 12:27:48 PM PST by Aquinasfan (When you find "Sola Scriptura" in the Bible, let me know)
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To: shrinkermd
The district my kids go to does an Intermediate School (grades 5-6) and a Middle School (grades 7-8). The elementaries are K-4 and High School is 9-12.

The Intermediate School and Middle School concept seem to work better (here).

38 posted on 01/23/2007 12:35:12 PM PST by PennsylvaniaMom (Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you...)
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To: teawithmisswilliams

Thanks! I've got five boys, and three of them look like clones of the oldest. (Not sure where the other one came from ... ;-)


39 posted on 01/23/2007 1:46:44 PM PST by Tax-chick ("You're not very subtle, but you are effective.")
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To: Aquinasfan
Taxpayers spent $30k to torture me for three years.

BT, DT. I'd rather have spent the time sewing shirts in a sweatshop.

My Bill there in the picture, 12 years old, runs marathons, plays drums, rocks babies to sleep ... I'd go to jail before I'd send that boy to middle school. They'd want him on drugs within a week, even though he's up to grade level in every subject and gets the best test scores of any of my children.

40 posted on 01/23/2007 1:51:02 PM PST by Tax-chick ("You're not very subtle, but you are effective.")
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To: Aquinasfan; wintertime
What's worse is that the employees don't even get paid, except with worthless degrees in Hotel Management and Phys Ed.

And don't forget Criminal Justice. I used to figure that was code for "prison guard," but with the recent history of college players, maybe it's code for "inmate."

41 posted on 01/23/2007 1:52:35 PM PST by Tax-chick ("You're not very subtle, but you are effective.")
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To: Tax-chick

The big guy is a handsome fellow, but that baby is adorable! Makes me want to pinch his chubby lil' cheeks!


42 posted on 01/23/2007 2:11:53 PM PST by SoftballMominVA
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To: wintertime; perseid 67
There is a local conservative talk show host that whines every fall about the fact that Davenport has three high schools and it makes for bad football.

Most people don't care about the academics of a school (at what ever level) but about how the football or basketball team plays. Which is one of the reason I no longer enjoy college football like I used to. (long story).
43 posted on 01/23/2007 2:12:43 PM PST by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: SoftballMominVA

He'd probably bite you with his six useful teeth! Vlad's not quite as cuddly as he was before the teeth arrived ...


44 posted on 01/23/2007 2:20:54 PM PST by Tax-chick ("You're not very subtle, but you are effective.")
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To: shrinkermd

Deja vu all over again.


45 posted on 01/23/2007 2:23:10 PM PST by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, and writes again.)
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To: Tax-chick

Vlad? short for Vladimir?


46 posted on 01/23/2007 2:59:39 PM PST by SoftballMominVA
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To: SoftballMominVA

FReeper name: Vlad the Usurper.

His real name is Daniel, but we forget sometimes!


47 posted on 01/23/2007 3:06:05 PM PST by Tax-chick ("You're not very subtle, but you are effective.")
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To: Tax-chick

Both of your guys are heartbreakingly handsome. You have every right to be proud!


48 posted on 01/23/2007 3:10:52 PM PST by SoftballMominVA
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To: perseid 67
The small rural schools tend to turn out more rounded students because the students are able to take part in more activities.

I think there is something to that. Both my girls attended a smallish (1500 kids 9-12) rural high school and have done well. My older is in college, my younger a junior. So much of what I read here that goes on in the large suburban schools and in the inner city schools, just hasn't happened to them. I think it may be because of the size, but also because of the community. Our county is solidly middle-class with tons of mothers that stay at home and volunteer in the schools. Most of their friends have intact 2 parent families and the families seem to be happy.

Unfortunately this is not the norm everywhere and it has to have a negative affect on the kids. I'm coming to believe that public schools are a mirror of the community - and of that community's more liberal side. Isn't it interesting that the worse schools in the country are the ones in the most liberal areas? The areas with the lowest amount of crime, 2 parent families, clean communities, and high literacy are the conservative areas? I'm sure that's just a coincidence right?

49 posted on 01/23/2007 3:20:20 PM PST by SoftballMominVA
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To: SoftballMominVA

Thanks!


50 posted on 01/23/2007 3:26:32 PM PST by Tax-chick ("You're not very subtle, but you are effective.")
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