NEWS BLOG (WSAU) My oldest daughter graduates from elementary school next week. I couldn’t be more proud. She’s an academic high achiever. She’s already developed a love a reading that should last a lifetime. But next year will be different. It’s off to middle school, with a much larger school building and a much larger student body.
Earlier this month I went to a parents' orientation meeting at John Muir Middle School, and I was disturbed by what I saw and heard. Parents heard from the school’s principal, two assistant principals, and guidance counselor. The school leaders all seemed affable. I could imagine all of them, especially the principal, working very well with students. The school leaders spoke for about half the meeting and took questions for the other half.
Almost all of the discussion centered on two topics: students making the transition to a larger school, and discipline.
Among the parents’ concerns: Will my child be able to find their classroom? Do kids really get locked in lockers? Will they get on the right school bus? How is bullying handled? These types of questions dominated about two-thirds of the Q & A session. These were also the topics the school leadership talked about most.
It’s clear to me that many parents have very little confidence in their children. If my 11-year-old was put in the middle of an airport, I’d expect her to find the gate that a plane was leaving from. If my child was put in the middle of a large hospital, I’d expert her to be able to find a specific room. Is a middle school any different? Kids can navigate these situations… unless the nervousness of their parents rubs off on them.
And I walked away from the parents meeting with the impression that John Muir has a discipline problem. One of the assistant principals seems to handle nothing but discipline. And there appears to be a procedure for everything, from school bus misbehavior to bullying to more serious problems like internet security and child abuse. That there’s enough “business” to devote a school administrative position to these issues disturbs me. I hope my impression is wrong.
What bothers me most is what I didn’t hear: Here’s how we are going to prepare your children for high school and college. Here are areas of academic excellence in our school. Here are the things happening in our school that are sources of pride for our students an teachers. Here’s how we make a difference in the lives of your kids. Not only did we hear very little in these areas, it wasn’t what was on the parents’ minds either. And that’s sad.
Operations Manager, Midwest Communications-Wausau