David C. Banks urges districts to rethink the whole concept of middle school:
From my experience as an educator for 28 years with the New York City Department of Education, middle schools are rife with academic dysfunction that causes irreparable harm to children in later years, when performance really counts. One challenge is the ill-prepared teacher. Chancellors and school systems have not focused enough on the fact that one can be a great teacher of elementary school, a star high school teacher, but still not be prepared to teach middle school. Too often in middle school the teachers have never received real professional development training to help students succeed in high school. And, more importantly, there is little to no time for teachers to focus on establishing strong relationships with their students, which has a tremendous impact on how students perform in the classroom, particularly for boys. A teacher’s ability to relate to his or her students is not icing on the cake of serious academics – I believe it is the whole cake.