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Your Opinion: Academies opposed; don’t narrow options

Dear Editor:

I voted against the high school bond issue because I wasn’t given a chance to vote against the change that I really oppose. The academies.

I attended the first public meeting at North School and followed the campaign closely. The academies were always presented as a done deal. No matter what happened, we were going to be stuck with this latest fad. The election shows that the Jefferson City Public Schools (JCPS) did not do a good job listening to the public about their plans, so please listen now. We are not stuck with the academies if JCPS administration decides we are not.

What’s wrong with academies?

Eighth graders are, for the most part, not ready to commit to much of anything for the next four years. Rather than narrowing their prospects, schools should be exposing them to the widest range of possibilities. Academies will, by definition, limit students’ educational opportunities. That’s their point.

Children change their interests and their minds — and that is a good thing. Hopefully they keep this open mindedness for the rest of their lives. Academies come off as the latest education-ese fad. Remember new math, multi-age, project-based learning, block scheduling, multiple intelligences and so on? Most of those didn’t last either.

Industrial and Engineering Technology, Health Services, Human Services, Business Management and Technology and so on? The names of the proposed academies read like a list of the latest buzzwords from a well-paid consultant — and are just as certain to fade away when the next best-selling advice book comes out. Schools serve a far greater purpose than to prepare students for jobs in the local economy. Our schools need to be turning out students who know how to learn and love to do it.

Want good results? Try well-paid, well-treated and well-respected teachers in well-built, well-equipped classrooms with good material and not too many students.

After the election, Dr. Mitchell said JCPS had to go back and “find out what the public didn’t like.” Please listen this time! Don’t just change the name to Pathways or The JC Model. Are you familiar with the economic concept of sunk costs — don’t throw good money after bad. Just because you’ve spent a lot of time and effort on a misdirected idea does not make that idea right. It takes a lot of courage to change direction, but it needs to be done.

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