Expert discusses benefits of restructuring schools

Published 12:08am Friday, March 9, 2012

NATCHEZ — An outsider from the Natchez-Adams School District — and the Miss-Lou — said Thursday that research suggests schools educate children best when grade levels are organized much differently than the way the local public schools are currently structured.

The NASD school board recently hired educational and architectural consultant Gary Bailey of the Bailey Education Group to conduct an education organization and facility study of the district.

As part of the study, Bailey hosted a community meeting at the auditorium in the Braden Administrative Building.

During a pro and con brainstorming session about school buildings, one attendee said she thought the existing school organization works well the way it is.

In response, Bettye Bell, the NASD school instruction improvement coordinator asked Bailey to give the group information about what research suggests regarding grade organization.

Bailey said research shows schools that serve kindergarten through fifth grade provide the best learning environments.

“Research, hands down (says) K-5 environments, with small, nurturing environments (are the best),” Bailey said.

“Keep them together for six years.”

Bailey said research suggests the best structure for middle schools is grades six through eight — or arguably seventh through eighth — on one campus, with each grade in separate quarters of the same campus.

“So they’re taught in a team environment,” he said of the middle school structure.

Bailey said research says high schools work best to include ninth through 12th grades.

“Anything short of that is compromise that doesn’t work,” Bailey said of the high school structure.

He added that an emerging trend is to separate ninth graders at high schools from the rest of the grades but on the same campus, so ninth graders have some group isolation during the students’ transition to high school.

Currently, the schools are set up so each student attends each school at one point, with kindergarten at West Primary School, first and second grade at Frazier Primary School, third and fourth grade at McLaurin Elementary School, fifth and sixth grade at Morgantown Elementary School, seventh and eighth grade at Robert Lewis Middle School and ninth through 12th grades at Natchez High School.

Toni Martin, a teacher at Morgantown Elementary School, discussed negative aspects of the current grade level organization.

“Students don’t have a sense of belonging anymore,” Martin said.

She added schools would function better and the staff and students would be better connected if one campus served multiple grade levels.

Bailey also said when children switch schools every two years at a young age, it can be difficult for them to adjust to the changes.

Shalanda White, also a teacher at Morgantown, agreed with Bailey’s statement that transportation issues caused by the current grade-level organization can be “torture,” as Bailey referred to it.

“(Some students) trek to West (Primary) from Cranfield. They get up with the chickens…” White said.

“That plays a part — that baby is tired when he or she goes to school.”

Bailey also asked for feedback about the structural condition of the buildings.

When Bailey asked the crowd which school buildings the community would object to being torn down because they had a “sacred” significance or created a sense of pride, the crowd responded with silence.

  • Anonymous

    Children best learn in an environment where PARENTS WHO ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT THEIR EDUCATION and where illegitimate birth rates are low.  This ain’t rocket science.

  • Anonymous

    May as well be as far as the parties involved are concerned.

  • http://profiles.google.com/everette.roberts Everette Roberts

    Want a good education for your children in Adams county? SEND THEM TO A PRIVATE SCHOOL!

  • http://profiles.google.com/everette.roberts Everette Roberts

    Amen

  • Anonymous

    But, you know, the public school system has not always been so negatively perceived. At one point in time, it seemed that it really was working and the kids were learning. One need only review what went on that precipitated the eventual decline in overall achievment. Facts are facts.I only hope and pray that someday a good, strong,sound education takes precedence over winning a football championship, cell phones and gaming.

  • Anonymous

    I think that teachers should make certain that the student(s) understand “formula”.

  • Anonymous

    Two words for you….Phillip West

  • Anonymous

    Hats off to Toni Martin !!!!! She has more common, everyday sense, than all of them put together. The return of neighborhood schooling would be the very best of all solutions. Busing the students is uncalled for and very expensive for the tax payers, also the needless frustration of the students having to get up so early to catch the buses. Younger children learn a lot from older mentors in a multi level grade school. It’s just plain common sense to return to neighborhood schooling.

  • Anonymous

    Our schools were once competitive in the classroom and the ball field, then Phillip West and the NAACP made their bed, now the taxpayers of Adams Co. have to lay in it.

  • Anonymous

    I wonder what he is going to accomplish in his next term as Mayor?  Just look at his legacy.

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    Neighborhood schooling was the way it was in the 60s’  and it worked brilliantly but the bar  of education in public schools was lowered caused the blacks couldn’t stay up with the whites academics and thats where we are today??!!  Though I don’t think these experts are so expert being we have people that knows whats wrong in public schools in Adams County and the main instrument is the family unit is broke and way over majority of the people in Adams county know if their kid is going to college they send them to a private school!!! So, why should these folks care if the door to public education ever opens. My opinion is is the state is paying over $11,000(highest in the state of Ms.) for education of each students in public schools why don’t they do as other states and put this money(Volcher) in the hands of the parents to go to whatever school of their choice!!!  Again , we need a elected school board for all the wasted money as that of retreats and etc!!!  New schools want make students make better grades or better moral characters!! The school top dogs just need to give up Braden school if they want to transfer students from middle school and move their offices in the auditorium at Washington school!!  What a waste of money??!!

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    Cathedral  Catholic school was built in the 50s’ and they have took pride in their school infrastucture and it produces some of the highest sat & act scores in Adams County that the students are prep to go to any college and get a degree!!! The most important over education in my opionion is their families support their child with moral spirital support there with God as number 1 that their kids are taught to respect people with compasion!!! This doesn’t happen in the public schools now which would you want your kid to go too???!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Formula….welfare + baby mama = entitlements

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been to plenty of meetings like that one.  Everything gets discussed except the actual problems. 

    One-roomed school-houses used to produce the best minds in the world.  Now we have a bunch of what are quite honestly little more than buzzword-spouting, PC-indoctrinated, intellectual paupers yammering about “belonging” and “nurturing” when they aren’t wringing their hands about kids, excuse me, “babies”, having to get up early.  “Babies”?  What is this, the movie “Conrack”?

    These people are morons and have no business teaching children.  There, I said it.

  • Anonymous

    I would like to thank of all of you for the immense PASSION and support of the public schools. I would most especially like to thank of all of you for your diligent efforts in paying your taxes. And a special thanks to crakalakin, NatchezMS1978, khakirat, your words have been far to kind *takes a bow*

    Sincerely,
    Janice Davis
    Natchez High School c/o 2003 
    Stanford University c/o 2007, B.A
    Emory University c/o 2010, MPH

  • Anonymous

    If the community is as divisive, unproductive and blatantly racist as some of these comments, there’s no wonder why everyone can’t come together for solutions to this problem as well as other problems plaguing the area. Get a grip, you simple-minded bunch. You don’t want minorities in school, but scared to have them in the streets. Can’t have it both ways. 

  • Anonymous

    My congratulations to your scholastic achievments. Not every black person is a thug/hoodlum, just as not every white person is a redneck/cracker. However, it is the negative that often gets the attention, while the good goes un-noticed. We ALL tend to generalize.
    Again, congrats. And by the way, the proper useage should have been ” …have been far (too) kind…”.  Stanford and Emory would shudder at that!  ( Chill- just picking)

  • Anonymous

    LOL.. touche! I noticed that when I proofread it along with the “of” that should have been omitted. I just didn’t feel like re-posting it! I’m glad that you recognize that too much is focused on the negative attention. I hope that the passion that is often found on these boards can be used to improve the ENTIRE community, regardless of race or background!

  • Anonymous

    And by the way, it is the proper “usage” ;) Enjoy your evening!

  • http://www.natchezdemocrat.com khakirat

    I guess your saying your somebody well good for you, you need to help your own to better themselves!!!!

  • Anonymous

    LOL!  My error! I am a terrible spelar!  And I am completely in favor of improving the ENTIRE community. There will always be bad white, blacks, hispanics, asians, whatever- we need to change the mindset of everyone! I could use some adjustment, too.

  • Anonymous

     Then please, share what you are doing to try to lower the birthrate to unweds……do you think 23 to 72% (depending on group) is a good thing?  23% is too high.  72% is unstoppable.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/DILZSTJLGOXND3HVPT4TVHYWR4 a

    Since according to you the teachers are morons then I would like to make a suggestion. Go to school and get your degree in education and then come see if you can do a better job. Apparently you will be awesome since you say the teacher have no business teaching children. Until people stop complaining about what is going on in the public school system and do something about it then nothing is going to change. When children are being taught it is not just the responsiblity of the teacher. It is the responsiblity of the parents, teachers, administrators and the community. We need to come together as one to make our schools and community better.  

  • Anonymous

    President Clinton got rid of “welfare” (cash/check), years ago. Now it is considered as TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). And they don’t give out cash or checks anymore. Under the new law, each state gets a “block grant”. Whatever is left, the state gets to keep. Now if a mothers seeks help from the state, the mother has to either have a job or attend school.

    Subject: [natchezdemocrat] Re: Expert discusses benefits of restructuring schools

  • Anonymous

    I degree in “education”?  That’s one of the problems right there.  I suspect that if you replaced the entire faculty and staff with high-school drop-outs it would likely only serve to improve the schools.  I seriously doubt they could do much worse.

    “When children are being taught it is not just the responsiblity of the teacher.”

    I agree 100%.  Didn’t see that in the three pages of this article though.  I saw a bunch of ignorant, PC nonsense.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure why you chose to include your academic credentials. I know that kind of stuff impresses some people but I’m not one of them.  Universities give people with 85 IQs degrees every six months in this country.  I’m sure every person quoted in that article holds some sort of degree.  Sadly, these days that means very little with regard to intelligence or capability.

    MPH?  People like me read that as “future tax-leeching government bureaucrat”.  Please don’t take offense.  I’m sure you were indoctrinated your whole life “give back” and so forth while being pointed straight towards a career in some government position or other.  I consider that a failing of the primary educational system as well.  It was bad enough when the system tried to make every kid a good corporate wanna-be now its even worse that they prune you to be good little government workers by guilting you and leading you to believe you owe society some imaginary debt that must be paid back via a career as government employee.  Here’s hoping you don’t fall into that.

  • Anonymous

    Whewww…so passionate!
    Signed,
    Proud NASD Alum!!!

  • Anonymous

    You’re wrong….totally wrong. Not one post here said anything about not wanting minorities in school. You’re just trying to stir the pot and deflect attention from the real problem by assessing blame elsewhere.

    The problem with public schools cannot be fixed until the problem with the complete and total breakdown of family structure is fixed…along with the removal of glorifying the thug/ghetto culture and the dependency upon government entitlements…PERIOD.

    You can’t explain away the actions of those who CHOOSE not to pursue and receive a FREE education. Excuses serve no purpose except to enable continued unproductive results.

  • Anonymous

    I stand by my previous post…its a culture of entitlements that is destroying any semblance of personal responsibility.

  • Anonymous

    You do realize this isn’t about you, right?  The kids in these schools are being failed by those who’s charge it is to educate them.  Yes, I am very “passionate” about education.  Not indoctrination, not social experimentation, not nurturing, not belonging, EDUCATION.  These kids aren’t getting one.  What is being done isn’t working.  I know I come off as contrarian but logic dictates that when the status quo is an utter failure, the contrarian position is the one with merit.

    Now, you can come here with “I got mine” all day.  The schools are still an utter failure.  It isn’t about you.

  • Anonymous

    Welfare reform did not in any way “get rid of welfare”.  More people get entitlements now than any point in history.

  • Anonymous

    It seems that you are also “indoctrinated to give back”, as you stated earlier!!! The “I got mine” and public health doesn’t mesh well, but I am so happy that you have a stance and a cause, EDUCATION. If you feel that the district is failing and your ideas merit some attention, then TAKE ACTION. The “passion” that you fervently display on the message boards will surely drive whatever action plan that you may come up with!

    Proud NASD alum!!!

  • Anonymous

    Crak:  “The kids in these schools are being failed by those who’s charge it is to educate them…..”  I hope you were referring to parents.

  • Anonymous

    Is it also correct that the “mother” living with her child under grandmother’s roof provides grandmother with a guardianship check?

  • Anonymous

    I was referring to the teachers but that does not negate your point.  When’s the last time you heard an actively employed teacher say, “We can’t do our jobs until parents do theirs”?  They don’t.  They claim they lack resources, i.e, tax dollars.  They know what the problem is.

    Teachers should NOT be nurturers with “babies”.  They are educators with students.  It is past time they started acting like it.

  • Anonymous

    People all over the county “take action” by refusing to send their kids to NASD.  Has that helped?  No, those people only catch blame.

    If a big, bloated, inefficient bureacracy were easy to take down by the working people, the school system wouldn’t be in the shape it is in nor would the country.

  • Anonymous

    Exactly…the “naysayers” and “excuse makers” fail to see the reality of the real PROBLEM

  • Anonymous

    State Education Rankings: The Best And Worst For Math And Science

  • Anonymous

    Probably as much as Jake Middleton…. Color/ Race voting will prevail as always, not who is the BEST person for the job…. Natchez is like a dog chasing it’s tail, going in circles, and going no where!!! Our once so called great public school system is in shambles, basically a baby sitting service for all the unwed mothers….  People are too scared to call it like it is, and thats why we are in the shape we are in as a country….. The USA is evolving into a HUGE Detroit—and people don’t have the guts to put a stop to it…. If you do take a stance on the sad shape of our public schools, you are a racist………… PLEASE!!!!!! New school buildings are not the answer…… a gazillion kids conceived in wedlock, growing up on a diet of filthy rap music, pants below their butts, drugs, no father figure, a entitlement mindset, no conscience, lack of respect for their fellow human beings, astronomical high schools drop out rates are destroying this once great nation and our town…. Plain and simple, but it will never change….

  • Anonymous

    AMEN!!!! The liberals get ticked off when you bring God in the mix, but after God has been removed and forbidden from just about everything, our American society continues to deteriorate…. Take a responsible, hard working father figure out of the picture, and things really go from bad to worse… Being God fearing, responsible, loving your parent’s, family, friends, neighbors, respecting all humans in general would solve a lot of our social ills………. Living as God intended us to, following his word would make for a better USA….  It’s time for all who think as I do to come together and make as much noise as the liberal, entitlement minded, whats best for me, screw you people do…. I am tired of all the free loaders and liberals lableling people like me as a racist, a redneck, intollerant….. So far from the truth it stinks……. I love all people, and pray for all…. I am just tired of a select few, who contribute little to society running things, and taking this country into the sewer….

  • Anonymous

    Teachers “could” teach better if they weren’t having to also serve as prison guards, detention officers, mental health moderators, politically correct gloved “hired hands” and substitute parents in the absence of a family structure. If teachers could only teach real “students” and not societal misfits…then the Natchez Public Schools would not be in the shape they are today….but then again…we can’t let the truth get in the way of political correctness