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FAILING GRADE

SOME PARENTS GIVE LOW MARKS TO JEFFCO'S "MULTI-AGE" CLASSROOMS.

Although two other parents present at the meeting support Atkinson's version of events, Vasquez insists, "I didn't actually say that," explaining that she was trying to tell parents that she's only carrying out the wishes of the teachers, who believe in the new system and want it for the good of the kids.

Vasquez sees the protesting parents as people whom "we haven't yet reached educationally," and adds, "I regret the fact that it looks to them like they don't have a choice, but we never gave people a choice before when we were doing age-segregated classes. I really believe we can convince the parents who are skeptical once they see the effect [of multi-aging] on their children."

The skeptics, however, seem to have an ally in multi-age advocate Cindy Boyce, who says schools ought to offer the kind of education desired by the community. When parents had serious concerns about multi-aging, Boyce adds, every school she has worked with decided to offer the option of conventional grades. Boyce tells skeptical parents to be persistent, "Ask your questions," she urges, "and ask them until they're answered."

Doubtful Lukas parents are asking, and they're still not satisfied with the answers they're getting: As of last week, they had 34 names on their petition. The one-room schoolhouse may be a charming memory for their grandparents, but they prefer the tradition that educated them--conventional grade classes. "I don't see why they have to change things now after all these years," says Kay.

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