Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Money considered for school mergers can be better spent elsewhere

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In my opinion, much of the school board’s enthusiasm about [Superintendent John] Deasy’s preK-8 schools plan was misguided and premature.

The school board’s own Web site, in a document titled, ‘‘K-8 Community Meetings Questions and Answers,” states the following: ‘‘Studies are uneven when it comes to the long-term academic impact of grade level configurations. There is also research citing increases in student test scores and course grades, but other studies suggest that the higher performance in Reading and Math observed in K-8 schools dissipates in high school.”

This can be found online in the documents made available for the Jan. 16 school board work session.

I believe Deasy and the school board would better serve the students of Prince George’s County if they applied the limited funds available to programs and methods that do better than show mixed or simply short-term results.

The preK-8 initiative would have been an enormously costly undertaking, would have torn many, many children from the schools they are attending (and in many cases, the schools closest to their homes) and would have most likely resulted in teacher attrition, as many teachers left the county after being reassigned to schools or positions they did not want.

As a parent of children who would have been reassigned from their neighborhood schools, where we are members of the community, to faraway schools, I am relieved that this plan has been put on hold.

Susanna Jech Paul, Hyattsville