Episode 86: Should We Get Rid Of Middle Schools?

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Middle school sucks. So why does it exist? And we’re talking about the Emmys.

Thanks so much to our sponsor, Kopari! We’ve been using various Kopari Coconut Oil products, and we’ve become huge fans. And you can join us with 20% off of your order! Just go to KopariBeauty.com/Parenting.


Amy has finally switched her blog over from SelfishMom.com to AmyEverAfter.com, even though Rebecca claims that she won’t be able to think of her as anything other than Selfish Mom. And Andrea told us how a nice Jewish girl married to a nice Jewish boy ended up with the last name of “Smith.” According to Andrea, when people with trades like locksmith, blacksmith, goldsmith, etc. came through Ellis Island, they were renamed Smith. And that’s why the United States has so many people named Smith! You learn something new every day.

Middle School Sucks

Nobody likes middle school. Nobody has ever said that middle school was the best. The kids are all hormonal, many of them have just left the only school they’ve ever known, and they’ll barely have time to get their footing before it will be time to leave for high school. It’s when girls can start to get mean, kids often get their own smart phones, and bullying can ramp up. And they smell. And according to this article, middle schoolers report higher rates of bullying and lower grades.

This new study, which looked at data from 90,000 New York City school kids at 500 schools, found that the kids who have “top dog” status at school (in NYC, that’s usually fifth graders, eighth graders, and twelfth graders) have an easier time according to several metrics. So it follows that eliminating middle school would allow sixth graders to avoid having bottom-dog status during a time that’s already stressful.

Amy went to the same school from kindergarten through eighth grade (the best configuration, according to the study), and reports that it was still a tough time, even without the added complication of having to go to a new school. Andrea didn’t want to deal with the whole NYC middle school search and commute for her son at all, so they moved to NJ where she would be able to send him to the neighborhood school and not worry about it.

We don’t have a solution. It’s just a bad system.

The Emmys

For the second consecutive year, the Emmy Awards have had the lowest amount of viewers ever. And it’s not just the Emmys. The Academy Awards and Grammys are down as well. But Rebecca and Amy loved it! Especially Rebecca, who watches a lot of TV. (Amy and Andrea need to catch up!) The cultural conversation is all around TV shows, not movies. There are more female writers and directors in TV, the casts are more diverse, and TV shows can address current events and trends faster. And  as Rebecca pointed out, the voting process has changed so that the same old shows aren’t winning year after year. All of this added up to the best awards show of the year, despite the ratings.

The Red Carpet is still a thing, but what thing should it be? E! has gotten rid of its ManiCam, but there is still controversy over women being asked who they’re wearing and the huge focus on looks in general. Isn’t the Red Carpet the place for that, though? So many of the designers dress the stars specifically so that they can get the recognition. Is the Red Carpet really the right place to talk about big, important issues? At least Tim Gunn did a good job talking about what the men were wearing, which doesn’t always get much attention.

There were plenty of cringe-worthy moments, though. There was a terrible Bill Cosby joke from host Kimmy Kimmel, The Television Academy’s own twitter feed mixed up a couple of African-American actors, and after Julia Louis-Dreyfus mentioned that her father died, people on Twitter announced the death of actor Richard Dreyfuss. But all in all, the show was one of the funniest in recent memory.

Bytes of the Week

eero Home WiFi System
Fiona’s WiFi, paused with the eero Home WiFi System

Amy reviewed the eero Home WiFi System on her blog, and is in love. We’ve talked a lot on the show about controlling your kids’ WiFi access at the router level, and the eero makes it ridiculously easy to do that by letting you program in scheduled WiFi breaks for different members of your family, or just pausing their WiFi with the press of a button on the app. Plus, you get great WiFi coverage and other features. You can read Amy’s full review here.

Hasselblad Camera Mod for the Motorola Moto Z
Yup, that’s a phone.

Andrea saw a great new line of accessories for the Moto Z lin of phones: Mods that attach to the phones with magnets! There’s a speaker, a projector, a Hasselblad camera with a real zoom lens, and more.

Rebecca’s Byte is another podcast, Note To Self, in particular a series they just did about what two moms go through developing an app to make work-life balance easier for working moms, while ironically having no balance at home while working on getting the app to the market. There’s also another recent episode that delves into the often confusing laws around teens and sexting.

Episode Links

Sixth Grade Is Tough; It Helps To Be ‘Top Dog,’ by Anya Kamenetz – NPR

Do Top Dogs Rule in Middle School? Bullying, Safety, and Belonging – American Educational Research Association

Sponsor: Kopari – get 20% off of your order by going to KopariBeauty.com/Parenting!

68th Emmy Awards

Emmy Awards Hits All-Time Low, by Dominic Patten – Deadline

Television Academy Announces Primetime Emmy Awards Rules Changes

Emmy Red Carpet Highlights

In Loving Memory Of E!’s ManiCam, by Brice Sander – BuzzFeed Celeb

Welp, The Official Emmy Twitter Mistook Terrence Howard For Cuba Gooding Jr, by Alanna Bennett – BuzzFeed Entertainment

Richard Dreyfuss confirms he’s alive after Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ Emmy speech, by Chancellor Agard – Entertainment Weekly

People vs. OJ Simpson: American Crime Story

ESPN 30 For 30 – OJ: Made in America streaming on ESPN.Go.com, on DVD/Bluray

Eero Home WiFi System

Eero: Easy WiFi With Great Coverage And Parental Controls, by Amy Oztan – Amy Ever After

Moto Z + Moto Mods

Note To Self Presents: Taking The Lead

Sext Education: Teens, Photos, and the Law

It Takes A Village! Chelsea Clinton’s husband Marc and their nanny take Charlotte to her first day of preschool – which she misses to campaign for her sick mom, by Chris Spargo – Daily Mail

Are you following us on Facebook? It’s a great way to see what we’re reading (including articles that might show up in future episodes), ask us questions, and give us feedback.

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