This We Believe has been the framework for the development of middle school philosophy since its original publication in 1982. Members of the education community collaborated in the identification of four essential attributes and sixteen characteristics necessary for effective middle level education. Now, over thirty years later, those attributes and characteristics remain a core tenet of the middle level movement. However, the middle level in Idaho is in crisis and some characteristics face extinction.
Budget cuts, spending freezes, and changing leadership have taken a dramatic and painful toll on the quality of middle level education in Idaho. As money has become scarce, districts have had to cut FTE allotments, increasing class sizes while simultaneously damaging the ability of buildings to continue to function with middle level philosophy in mind. Funding for field trips, athletics, or other extra-curricular activities has been slashed, limiting the number of opportunities for children without imposing a burden on individual families to make up the difference.
While we have all felt the shift and the pinch from thinner budgets, we do not have to sacrifice the core tenants of middle level philosophy. The theme for the 2015 IMLA Annual Conference, to be held at the end of February, is “We Still Believe.”
We Still Believe—in understanding the physiological, psychological and social/emotional developmental needs of our students as the primary focus in the decision-making process.
We Still Believe—that every child can learn, regardless of their ability level, and that individual expectations should emphasize high standards focused on growth and improvement.
We Still Believe—in providing students with the basic skills and knowledge necessary to become a productive member of their community.
We Still Believe—that every child deserves advocacy to ensure they get fair and equal access to a meaningful, challenging, and relevant learning experience.
With courage it is possible for us to protect the attributes and characteristics that have guided us for the past thirty years. Even if your team is unable to join us at the 2015 conference it is not too late to get involved:
- Follow us on Twitter: @idahomiddle
- Join the conference live Twitter feed: #imla2015
- Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/idahomiddle
- Talk with a board member about how you can get involved in your local area.
- Encourage your building and district leadership to sign up for membership to the Idaho Middle Level Association for the 2015-16 school year and make plans to attend our conference next year.