Dear Mr. Price:
I enjoyed the opportunity to speak with you on April 2, 1998. As the former president of the Boulder Valley School Board, serving the fifth largest school district in the state of Colorado with 25,500 students, I am all too familiar with the issues of academic excellence, middle schools, heterogeneous vs. homogeneous grouping, and the so-called middle school philosophy.
I am a practicing attorney in Boulder, and I have lived in Boulder for over 40 years. I attended Boulder public schools beginning in the second grade, and ultimately graduated from the University of Colorado. I know, too, the depth and extent of public upset, polarization and community fracture that occurs when middle schools and the attendant middle school philosophy is implemented-or forced-upon a population greatly concerned with academic success, achievement, and careful fiscal management of limited resources.
Our community was forced into the middle school fracas in 1991. Neither the schools, the students, parents or taxpayers have ever recovered from the experience. It is a controversy that rages to this day. Proponents of the middle school philosophy contend that students benefit from the integrated curriculum, group learning, team teaching, and emphasis on psycho-social issues.
Opponents to the middle school philosophy, whose numbers are legion, contend that local and national research, as well as the deteriorating standardized test scores of our students, demonstrate that the middle school philosophy is not in the best interests of the children. Boulder middle schools lag behind other school districts in teaching our children language arts skills, history, mathematics, and science, yet Boulder was determined by Fortune Magazine to be the best educated population in the country.
The debate is rancorous, and has driven an enormous wedge into our community. The controversy has not abated to this day.
I understand that you have been provided with some materials that are pertinent to the debate, but the information regarding this issue is voluminous. Please let me know what additional material you need, and I will have it sent to you.
I realize that middle schools and middle level philosophy are under consideration in Dayton. I would be happy to come to your school district and speak with your Board of Education or any other interested people regarding our experiences in Boulder. I am in the process of writing a book about pertinent educational issues, and I do have a family, as well as a law practice. However, I believe that no issue is of greater concern than the education of our children and, therefore, I would be willing to travel to Dayton at my own expense to answer questions or discuss your concerns.
It is incumbent upon school boards everywhere to have as much information as possible prior to making decisions that affect children for many years to come. If there is anything I may do to facilitate a discussion of the issues, please let me know.
Stephanie S. Hult, Esq.
Former President, BVSD School Board