(re)starting a conversation

From Lynn Peisker:

Here’s something we would like to hear from younger parents about – those who have up and coming pre-school and elementary students who will someday be attending our high schools in whatever form that takes in the future.

Do you prefer a traditional grade configuration of 6-8 for middle school and 9-12 for high school?  Or would you be interested in a grade configuration with middle school for 6-7, a prep academy for 8-9, and one high school for 10-13?

I would go further and say “Let us know what you think no matter what ideas you have”. For instance, what about K-8 schools? Neighborhood schools?

I think this is a great start. It is a very important topic to discuss, and a great way to open the doors to let the community voice their opinions. If nothing else, it will be like buying someone a drink with the intents of getting them to talk a little more. 🙂 I hope. In a good way, of course.

Lynn put a poll on the Unit 4 FB page, and I see Jamar Brown has propagated the question as well.

11 Responses to “(re)starting a conversation”

  1. pattsi petrie Says:

    I certain hope that this is not a popularity contest, but an honest research one, looking at the education literature as to which configuration best serves the student–academically and socially.

  2. charlesdschultz Says:

    I could not agree more. Lynn updated me with an encouraging word in this respect, as she realizes that the poll in and of itself is inadequate for a discussion – there needs to be something else. However, I am left with a blank as to what that “something else” is.

    I still have on my “to do” list an assignment you gave to me, to find school districts that best compare with ours. I am about to cast my net wider and publicly ask for help in coming up with ideas. 🙂 While I do indeed agree that we need to focus on what really works, I will be the first to confess that the research can be utterly confusing especially since our particular environment most definitely varies from that of the research studies. And our needs change.

    However, having said that, one thing still perplexes me. We have had many efforts to recommend long-term strategic plans; Great campus, Great schools together and the more recent ones, and there have been many efforts prior to that I am sure. What can we glean from those? Is it all crap? What is really valuable from those collective bodies of community input and hard-core number crunching?

  3. Sena Cooper Says:

    Pattsi is exactly right – it’s not about what the parents think would be best (heck, we’re all parents who want what is best for our children and the children of Champaign but we are not all educational researchers/experts!) but what will truly best serve the Unit 4 customers (the students) on an academic and social level. This is what I mentioned before when the high school discussion started – forget about the facilities for a minute, what should the district educational model be? I am happy to see Unit 4 reaching out for ideas and input but is someone in Unit 4 studying other districts and educational models? Is there someone in our backyard at U of I who can provide some insight on the possibilities??

  4. Sena Cooper Says:

    Just did a quick search re middle schools and found this organization: Association for Middle Level Education. Suspect there is some interesting research that could be found there if one digs at bit. http://www.amle.org/

  5. Sena Cooper Says:

    I also found some data here on page 10 of this report which breaks down schools in the US by grade levels:


  6. charlesdschultz Says:

    I have talked with 3 professors from the College of Education, one Masters student from Urban Planning, one Professor from Psychology and I am setting up a date to talk with another student who is working on her PhD in the College of Education. Prior to me, I know Imani Bazell had a lot of similar contacts in various departments. For whatever reason, all 6 of the University folks mentioned above do not seem to be aware of any research having been done or currently going on to answer those questions (what should the district educational model be). The root cause of that is probably worthy of another post (and an investigation – hmm… wheels turning now…).

    So what do we do? Shall we say “screw this information collection thingy” and wait for “Superman” to come provide all the correct answers? Again I ask, what can we glean out of previous efforts? And Sena, now that both you and Pattsi are echoing this thought, I am seriously tempted to start making a lot of phone calls into the College of Education and start asking those questions. No, rather, I am going to start walking over there and asking to talk to people face-to-face. But I would challenge you (and other readers) to do the same thing. And please let me know what you find out. 🙂

  7. pattsi petrie Says:

    No, go to the social science index and dig deep to find the research. We have the 3rd largest library in the USA, the answers are certainly there.

  8. pattsi petrie Says:

    Here are two places to start–Stanford Social Innovation Review and Education Policy Analysis http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_Policy_Analysis_Archives

  9. charlesdschultz Says:

    Egads! Surely, the answers are in the 3rd largest library in the USA, and then you both proceed to shower me with links for content outside Illinois. And theory at that!

    I cannot digest that right now. Let me know what you get out of those. 🙂 Give me something that shows how Unit 4 is impacted, what profiles our environment and what is the best course of action for us to take.

  10. Sena Cooper Says:

    I’m sure this is a black hole, but why not push Unit 4 to do their job. They should be the ones doing the research and leveraging the University, not us!

  11. pattsi petrie Says:

    Sena, your last posting is spot on. “The time has come the walrus said…..”

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