Some Lawrence parents on Thursday night questioned whether sixth-graders were mature enough to handle moving into schools with seventh- and eighth-graders.
“My impression is that there are more social and emotional issues, more concerns about the maturity of the youngsters,” school board member Marlene Merrill said. “I hear more of that tonight than I did at any ninth-grade forum.”
About 30 parents attended the discussion Thursday night with board members and administrators at Lawrence High School, 1901 La. The district is studying whether to reconfigure its schools by moving ninth-graders to the high schools and possibly then sixth-graders into middle schools as early as the 2011-2012 school year.
Merrill said some of the questions might mean the district needs to study the issue more before board members debate the change. District officials said it could give sixth-graders more access to advanced and accelerated courses and more opportunities to participate in academic competitions, athletics, clubs and school leadership.
During the discussions, some parents said children could benefit from access to more activities.
But Dietrich Earnhart, whose daughter is a Cordley first-grader, said research has shown girls face more social pressures in middle schools and won’t perform as well in math and science.
“If the girls stayed in a sixth-grade elementary setting, then they would not have that peer pressure to try to curry the favor of boys,” he said. “It seems to be much more accommodating environment in an elementary school setting.”
Parent Megan Greene, a member of Save Our Neighborhood Schools, said the move would reduce enrollment and could jeopardize some smaller elementary schools but that was not a reason to oppose the change. She did say she was disappointed in the format of the discussion, which did not convince her to support the change.
A second forum about sixth grade will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Free State High School, 4700 Overland Drive.