Q: What is the right age at which the DuBois Area School District should shift students out of its elementary school and into its middle school?
A: There is no “right” age.
OK, then; since the district is studying the matter with an eye toward possibly including students in fifth grade within the middle school, what is the consensus about the minimum appropriate age for that move?
Answer: 10 years old.
No, that answer is not based on scientific study. Nor is it based on child psychology.
But there is value to seat-of-pants conclusions and answers based on common sense.
That is why “10 years old” is suggested above.
Now, remember. Age 10 is not “right.” It is not “best.”
It — or age 9 or age 11 — is about how to organize our children’s educational groupings.
The idea of putting very young children in with much older children is hardly new.
The storied “one room schoolhouse” of our great-grandparents’ era is beloved in rose-colored retrospect, but in practice, it was driven by the limits of transportation in those horse-and-buggy days, and by the perennial driver of such decisions: Tax money.
Children can be educated within a one-room schoolhouse setting. For that matter, children are educated every day in no-room schoolhouses, i.e., home schooling. There is no record of the opposite, of a school district or community wealthy (or overprotective) enough to have 13 separate buildings for each grade from kindergarten through high school senior, but in theory, it could be done, if the district possessed hundreds of families with Donald Trump’s billions.
Now, back to the DuBois district: Is the talk of bringing fifth graders into the middle school being driven by educational improvement standards — or by money considerations alone? Remember, the district just sold four of its elementary schools. It probably needs to rearrange the schools that are left in order to come closer to equal class sizes.
Parents could scream in protest, and probably should do so, if the district were studying bringing kindergarten and the primary 1-2-3 grades into the middle school via long bus rides cramped in with older children.
It already does work well enough to have grades 6, 7 and 8 in the middle school.
Why bring fifth grade in?
Well, why not?
We need to talk about this in the coming weeks and months. We deserve honest and
forthright answers from school officials as to the “why” of the proposal, too.
— Denny Bonavita