Tag: middle school

Baltimore’s Middle Schoolers Elect Obama, Support Marriage Equality, Veto Casinos

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Photo by Karen Castillo in Washington D.C.

Did you hear? Obama won, same-sex couples can get married, and Maryland won’t get any more casinos. Sounds pretty good to me, I’ve gotta say — unfortunately, the voters in question were in middle school, so they don’t actually get to weigh in on the issues in real life. But still, these are the kinds of results that make me hopeful for the future.

Middle-Aged Memories of Middle School Mixers

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I was absentmindedly scanning my sixth grade daughter’s school calendar the other night when, suddenly, my eyes popped wide open and my heart skipped a beat. The first middle school dance scheduled for next week? Already? Eek!

Call me a prude, but aren’t they a little young? I guess I’m a forgetful prude. After all, I was in junior high when I went to my first school mixer, and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. Not that I enjoyed it, exactly. But I think I believed it was something I desperately needed to experience. Likely, my daughter feels the same way—not that she’d ever let me know how she feels these days. Similarly, it probably would do no good to tell her how silly I think middle school mixers are. My opinion seems to count for very little. To her I’m practically a dinosaur. Which is pretty ironic, because I remember those ridiculous mixers like they were yesterday.

Should Ninth Graders Be Going on College Tours?

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Last year, Dave Marcus’s son was in middle school; now, the ninth grader is embarking on a ritual usually reserved for high school juniors and seniors — the college tour.

At first, I assumed this was just another instance of over-aggressive parenting, shifting the college pressure earlier and earlier in high school. And there is certainly plenty of that going around; a recent New York Times article discussed several for-profit schools that start students on the college application process in ninth grade. “Is it better to get a jump on the process but risk turning high school into a staging ground for college admission?,” the article asked. “Or is it preferable to start later, when students are more developmentally prepared but perhaps missing opportunities to plan hobbies, choose classes and secure summer internships?”

Baltimore Students Face School on Saturdays

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It sounds like the sort of thing you say to threaten a kid whose grades are slipping:  If you don’t start focusing in class, you’ll have to go to school on Saturday! But for some middle school students in the Baltimore City school system, Saturday School is about to become a reality — and not as a punishment, but as a time for extra support and (allegedly) “fun.”

City schools CEO Andres Alonso has long been a proponent of Saturday school, which is thought to improve academic performance. (Even a little bit of extra schooling may help — a University of Maryland study showed that even a few snow days make end-of-year math scores go down.) When 2011 math scores declined (61 percent of third through eighth graders passed, compared to 66 percent in 2010), he jumped at the chance to try out this new program. Some schools are starting this week with programs that will be similar to the summer school program the city already runs, in that it’ll focus on hands-on learning, projects, and curriculum support.

The Saturday School initiative will run for 10 weeks, and will give students an extra 20 to 30 hours of math instruction leading up to the annual tests in March. If the program works and scores go up, students may be looking at a lot of busy Saturdays in the future.

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