Archive for Thursday, April 15, 2010

Small sample

The opinions of 40 forum participants may or may not accurately reflect community attitudes toward creating four-year high schools in Lawrence.

April 15, 2010


It’s hard to draw many conclusions about broad public opinion based on feedback from 40 people.

That’s how many people attended two recent forums, held at Lawrence and Free State high schools, to discuss the possibility of moving Lawrence ninth-graders into four-year high schools. Participants at both forums were asked to complete a written survey about the plan being considered by the Lawrence school board. At Free State, a sizable majority, 20 of 24 participants, favored the move. At LHS, 11 of the 16 participants, were against the move.

The opposition at LHS apparently was based largely on the social and emotional issues associated with putting 14-year-old freshmen into high schools with 18-year-old seniors. That concern certainly shouldn’t be dismissed by school board members, but other schools apparently have found it manageable. After Olathe makes the move to four-year high schools in the fall, Lawrence will be the only district in the state with three-year high schools.

There are obvious academic advantages to physically moving students to high school at the same time they begin pursuing a four-year high school curriculum. It’s true that high school freshmen and seniors are at different levels of maturity, but the influence of the Internet and modern communication means that today’s ninth-graders are far less sheltered than their counterparts of a generation or two ago.

Parents also questioned whether LHS was large enough to comfortably accommodate the new students. The enrollment at LHS is much lower now than it was before Free State was built, but no one wants to go back to the previous level of crowding.

As one parent correctly pointed out, the district shouldn’t move ninth-graders unless there is a compelling academic reason to do so. It seems unlikely that the move will save the district much, if any, money, so providing students a better educational opportunity should drive the board’s decision.

Board member Marlene Merrill surmised that the fact that only 40 people showed up at the two forums was an indication that district patrons are comfortable with the idea of moving 750 ninth-graders into the high schools. She could be right, but it would be a mistake to assume too much.

The board probably needs to do more to explain and gather input on the possible move, but parents also need to do their part. If the 40 people who attended the two recent forums don’t accurately represent their views, the rest of the parents in the district will have little right to complain if the plan moves ahead without their concerns or support being considered.


cato_the_elder 4 years, 8 months ago

All the Board is doing is paving the way for an immediate bond issue for a third high school, which USD 497 taxpayers simply cannot afford at this time. This is consistent with an agenda that has existed for some time, and has previously been covered in articles in this newspaper. If ninth grade students stay where they are, we won't need a third high school for at least 20 years, and elementary schools will not be endangered through loss of their 6th grade students to "middle schools." Get with it, folks - wake up and smell the taxes and school closings, and tell board members "no."

hail2oldku 4 years, 8 months ago

I'll pass on your suggestion cato. It took forever to get a second high school when that was REALLY needed. What makes you think that a third would get voted through that easily even IF your conspiracy theory is true (btw - Gerald Ford was the shooter in the grove)?

David Klamet 4 years, 8 months ago

In reality, you are putting 14 year old freshmen in the same school as 17 year old seniors. By the time the average senior is 18, the average freshman will be 15. Just correcting the math.

boltzmann 4 years, 8 months ago

Actually, the math in the article is fine - the statement in the article said nothing about the average student - you inserted in into the discussion. Given the spread of birthdays there will be at almost any day of the school year (except for maybe the first) some 14-year-old freshmen and some 18-year-old seniors, so the statement is mathematically correct.

Just correcting the correction. :)

hail2oldku 4 years, 8 months ago

How is that any different than the 16 year-old freshman and the 12 (sometimes 11) year-old 7th grader?

mom_of_three 4 years, 8 months ago

Okay, question to ask. How many parents were freshmen in a four year high school? And how many of those parents do not want to move their kids to a four year high school? And it would be interesting to see how many 3 year high schools are left in 5A and 6A districts across the state. Then we can ask ourselves "why not"

bschool 4 years, 8 months ago

The article states that Lawrence will be the only district in the state with three year high schools.

gccs14r 4 years, 8 months ago

Teachers in 3-year high schools don't do anything about student bullying as it is. What makes anyone think it'll be better with 33% more students to bully? I spent a year in a high school that stuffed 8-12 in one massive building. Not fun. Seniors took great delight in being up to two feet taller and a hundred pounds heavier than their youngest classmates. Walking the hallways between classes was like live-action Frogger.

cato_the_elder 4 years, 8 months ago

Hail2oldku, the goal of moving ninth-graders up and then building a third high school isn't a "conspiracy theory" at all. It has been reported on previously in this newspaper, but the reporter currently assigned to this issue hasn't seen fit to cover it as he should have. The bottom line is that whether or not it's in the cards, and I can tell you most assuredly that it is, if this goes through the hue and cry for a third high school will begin almost immediately. If that's what you want, then I suggest that you pay for it.

hail2oldku 4 years, 8 months ago

"It has been reported on previously in this newspaper" - links?

And I'll ask again, what makes you think a bond issue for Larry High III would pass that easily when it took forever to get one passed when it really was needed?

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