A lack of confidence among parents in local middle schools is resulting in declining enrollment as parents look to private schools, and magnet and charter schools. The declining confidence and misgivings concern both academic offerings and social issues.
In St Paul Minnesota, only 81 percent of the fifth graders remained in the district for sixth grade. Consultant Hazel Reinhardt was hired by the district to make enrollment projections, and she considers the number of students continuing into middle school to be unusually low. She thinks St Paul does a good job of keeping the competition at bay with private schools. “On the whole, it does somewhat better than one might think, in my opinion,” she said. “The issue for St. Paul is charter schools.”
Parents are often drawn to specialized elementary schools that feature unique programs, such as dual language immersion. However, the confidence does not extend to middle schools.
“Middle school is scary to me,” said Jessica Blue, whose oldest daughter just completed fifth grade in a French immersion program. She will pay tuition this year to move two of her three children to the private school where she teaches French. “Where I teach, the middle school is very small and they are very conscious about the needs of students that age.”