Don’t change what’s working

By From page A14 | April 14, 2013

The Davis school district has been recently considering 9-12 grade reconfiguration, and we are uncertain about the reasons for this proposed change. We don’t see a fiscal benefit and we see many costs. The vast majority of our teaching staff at Emerson Junior High finds the current 7-9 configuration ideal for our community and student population.

We have concerns about the outlined district intake process for the reconfiguration decision. On the table are more than 200 questions written in a short period of time by DTA members that still remain unanswered. Some of us participated in the March 13 meeting, which was structured such that perfectly open dialogue was not permitted. As junior high teachers, we are especially concerned that no session has been planned to focus on seventh- and eighth-graders and their needs.

We currently have a 7-12 academic configuration. Removing ninth-graders from the junior high school removes opportunities for younger students to take truly high school-level courses. Many of our courses have seventh- through ninth-graders. We see mutual benefit in the 7-9 mixture.

All of our students, including the younger students, benefit from the ninth-graders’ leadership and expanding intellectual horizons. While providing this leadership, ninth-graders grow in confidence, maturity and abilities. The smaller junior high school community confers benefits in the shape of a comfortable place to launch into a more challenging intellectual, social, artistic and creative adult forum. Most especially, some of our most at-risk students benefit from remaining in the place where everyone knows them as they begin their high school years.

We hope that the open-mindedness proposed by the superintendent and requested from teachers is also present in the Board of Education and the cabinet. This would be a huge undertaking requiring a great expenditure of time and money with many costs that have not yet been addressed. All schools would go through upheaval; educational partnerships would be torn apart. Let’s not change a strong working model.

Rena Nayyar, Kathy Koblik, Ana Maria Currea, Carlette Hartsough, Jason Teves, Elizabeth Shoemaker, Matthew Sonstein, Bruce Guy, Tim McCormick, Eric Jacobson, Gina Smith, Jennifer Terra, Esther Burnside, Anna Amsler, Debbie DePaula, Jennifer Wolfe, Greg Brucker, Gary Slizeski, Gabriela Avila-Tuttle, Tim Fahlen and Kimiko Hayashida, Emerson teachers

Michael Leahy, Emerson counselor

Al Vasquez, Emerson head safety supervisor

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