My friend, Rebecca Taggart, is on a mission. And I'm helping out. She'd like to see if our local elementary schools can go back to a K-5 format.
I'm posting a copy of her letter below. (I've edited out the specific names of the elementary schools for privacy/security reasons.) I also have a hard copy of the letter that I'm getting signatures on. So here's the deal . . . If you're from my neck of the woods, let me know your thoughts on this issue. If you agree with Rebecca and me, I'll drop by and get your signature. She'll be turning the signatures in to Principal Gary Thomas who will spearhead the discussion with the school district.
Here's Rebecca's letter. My own personal specific thoughts will be posted below it.
We, the undersigned, are in favor of returning to the K-5 configuration at our local elementary schools for the following reasons:
1. Every year between 80 – 90% of a child’s classmates change. This means two or three students from a class will be together the following year. This happens year after year after year for a child’s entire grade school experience. Emotionally and socially it’s almost like moving to a new school every year! This lack of social continuity has been one of the unintended consequences of our present division of grades. If students attended all six grades in one school, there would be half the number of classrooms per grade level. This would mean more peer continuity.
2. Students move to a new school every three years. When a child moves from one school to the other, not only are classmates new (again), but also the principal, secretaries, lunch workers, custodians, librarians and other support staff. This constantly changing environment does not foster stable relationships, feelings of community, or a sense of well-being.
3. Students would spend less time on buses with the K-5 configuration. Buses would not be stopping at both schools for loading and unloading, and more students would be able to walk to school.
4. Siblings would attend the same school. This would not only be more convenient, but would also foster better partnerships between families and school personnel.
Some parents may be concerned about bullying. Well-managed schools have scheduled, supervised recess periods that accommodate different grade levels. Bullying most frequently takes place on buses. A K-5 configuration would reduce bullying by reducing busing.
A K-5 configuration would foster a more stable environment for our children by providing more continuity and reducing time spent on the bus. We would appreciate your consideration regarding this matter.
Remember when I got fed up with my daughter's elementary school making the kids stand outside in lines until 9:05 AM? (Click this sentence for a refresher.) Having our local schools on a K-5 configuration would solve her school's early bussing headaches.
My oldest daughter began second grade in a class where she didn't know any of the other students. The teacher was wonderful, the other students were friendly, and Loula Belle is my most outgoing child. But the situation gave her chronic stomach aches all year. We had her tested for lead poisoning. (We were living in an old rental home at the time.) I took her to the doctor. Nothing turned up. Looking back, I believe the problem was anxiety caused by a lack of friends in her school class.
Rebecca discovered that the K-5 format would eliminate the need for three school buses, saving time and money. I also learned that the third grade will have eight classes next year. Eight classes! The format would also simplify PTA membership (by the way, our schools are the only elementary schools in the state that have two seperate PTA boards for split schools), back-to-school nights, and Parent/Teacher conferences. I'm all for simplicity!
Sure, we'll miss meeting some of the parents and students that currently attend our elementary schools. But that won't last forever, we'll run into them when our children go to middle school. And by then our children will be more mature and ready for not only a new school, but the opportunity to make new friends.
I say lets give our kids the school configuration that is healthiest for them. In my mind that's the K-5 format.
What do you think? If you'd like to sign Rebecca's letter, write "sign me up" somewhere in your comments. And if you've got your own ideas, that's great too. Let us know how you feel.