, Newburyport, MA


June 13, 2014

AMS: the middle child of our public schools

To the editor:

I have been teaching at Amesbury Middle School for 15 years and I am having a hard time celebrating the school budget as many others are doing. I am very pleased that the committee was able to save the foreign language at the high school. I am also happy that a way to fund the early college program was worked out. But once again the middle school ends up like the middle child: We go unnoticed.

Historically, the middle school has absorbed the biggest hit when it came to cuts. If you look at the history of the high school, programs get saved because there is a concern about accreditation and the need to make sure students have the requirements to successfully compete for college admissions. The elementary schools don’t get hit with as many cuts because the younger kids need to be looked out for and they don’t have a lot of “extras.” So it falls to the middle school to bear the burden of the cuts year after year.

Let’s be honest. If people (who aren’t working in a middle school) ranked children by which age group they liked the most, the middle school-aged children would be at the bottom. Elementary-aged children are still small and “cute.” High school-aged children are “more mature” and can be spoken to as more of an adult.

Middle school-aged children are an entirely different species. Any parent can attest to 10-14 being some of the toughest years. Studies have proven that it is psychologically, physiologically, developmentally, socially, etc., some of the hardest years of a child’s life. These children barely know themselves during these years and they are trying to deal with all the changes they are going through.

The middle school has the highest population of students in Amesbury and almost all of this town’s kids go through this building. Yet this most at-risk group of students is the one that suffers the burden of cuts the most. Cuts made at this level affect almost every child in this town. The following is a quick list of some of the cuts since I arrived:

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