To the Editor:
“Mayhem in the Middle,” by Cheri Pierson Yecke, is an overgeneralized condemnation of middle schools (Commentary, Feb. 1, 2006).
What makes middle school difficult for teachers is convincing the students that academics count. Unlike high schools, which drive home the importance of a high school education by continually emphasizing grade point average, the number of credits required for graduation, standards for entrance into colleges or universities, and—the ultimate sword of Damocles—passing the state graduation test, middle schools don’t generate a transcript, nor are students required to pass proficiency tests to be promoted to the next grade.
Therefore, in the minds of many students, the middle school years “don’t count.” Promoting rigor in academics challenges everyone associated with middle schools. Making academics count for young adolescents is a formidable task.
Should we continually examine how schools are organized and how we deal with the many social, emotional, and academic challenges that face students at all levels? I would certainly hope that all educators are doing this as part of the professional and moral obligation we have accepted. To merely condemn without suggestion, as Ms. Yecke does in her Commentary, will do little to help us understand the middle school years and the schools we have created to address the many issues that confront us.
Neil T. Glazer
Shaker Heights High School
Shaker Heights, Ohio
A version of this article appeared in the March 01, 2006 edition of Education Week as Making Academics Count for Young Adolescents