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Sunday, March 10, 2013
Core educationwill suffer
Moving back to Blacksburg seemed like the best decision for my daughter’s education because I knew the quality of the teachers in Montgomery County Public Schools.
However, the recent decision made by the school board to eliminate 19.6 middle school teachers and increase the number of students for the remaining teachers has made me question the wisdom of my decision.
Sadly, it is clear from Superintendent Brenda Blackburn’s recent commentary, “New model improves middle schools” (Feb. 24), that she is ignoring the negative impact this decision will have on our kids.
What Blackburn failed to mention is that out of the 19.6 positions that will be cut, 16 will be core academic teachers. She also failed to mention teachers will be teaching more students during the day, thereby reducing the personalized contact time with individual students. More students per teacher, fewer core academic teachers, and less time for teachers to plan classes that best meet the needs of our kids are going to improve our middle schools? That is absurd. How can our school board, superintendent or anyone else in favor of this proposal honestly claim it will benefit our kids?
Students willlose with cuts
Blacksburg is about to experience another crippling blow to the public schools. The decision to eliminate about eight core teaching positions at Blacksburg Middle School will deprive students of quality instruction teachers provide to sixth, seventh and eighth grades. This decision has been portrayed as preserving the collaborative model, but eliminating those eight positions will effectively destroy it. Reducing staff and increasing the number of pupils assigned to teams will sacrifice the quality time that students receive from teachers.
As a historian who worked with BMS teachers to develop curricular materials, I was consistently impressed by their dedication to finding innovative and effective ways to weave creative teaching into the standardized curriculum.
Eliminating teaching positions at BMS makes such enrichment activities impossible to continue. As team sizes grow, teachers will have less time to develop relationships with students and fewer opportunities to engage students in complex activities that require analytical thinking and writing skills.
Restoring and strengthening the team-based approach to middle school teaching is the best possible preparation of children for the challenges of high school. Middle school parents need to consider the implications of this decision for their children.
Weather JournalMidday update: More ice likely later