Rhodes parents question World Studies curriculum
Jan. 30, 2008

Ray Parker

Several Rhodes Junior High parents had the same question last week about the new World Studies curriculum that focuses on foreign languages (Spanish, French, Chinese) and other cultures: Will students learn less American history?

Principal Matt Devlin said there are 48 pages of state standards on the subject, which educators must teach, so students will learn more about American history.

The question also came up when Mesa Public School officials recently outlined the new International Baccalaureate programs at Frost Elementary and Hendrix Junior. They gave the same answer as Devlin.

All three schools face declining enrollment and educators look to attract more students with the new programs.

Rhodes, 1860 S. Longmore Road, near Baseline and Dobson roads, has decreased from about 1,900 students in 1995 to around 1,000 this year.

Devlin said district projections put the school at about 800 students in 2010.

The school will need to attract more students if educators want to offer a comprehensive program, such as a full-time band teacher. Educators hope the World Studies focus will be the solution.

"(World Studies) will have rigor and relevance," Devlin told about 125 parents. "Our kids are competing against those in New Jersey and New Delhi."

As part of the new curriculum, which begins next school year, Rhodes eighth- and ninth-graders will be required to take a second language. Rhodes also will change to a seven-period schedule due to the language requirement.

But the key to the new program involves real world topics that students will study in all their subjects, such as language arts, social studies and math.

"Rather than just learning out of a book . . . we want to bring it alive," Devlin told the audience.

Parent Eric Porter said he's hopeful the new program will give students more of an educational edge.