Tell us about your schools

by Grace aka costofcollege

Tell us about your local schools.

Do you have school choice?  Do you have charters, magnets, or other options for selecting public schools outside your neighborhood?  Do you use private schools?

What do you like about your schools?

What do you dislike about your schools?

Have your children been well served by their schools?

What else can you tell us?  Demographics?  Amount of homework?  Grading?  Discipline policies?  Quality of instruction?  Technology?  Communication to parents?  How they address needs of special education and/or gifted students?  Choice of extra-curriculars?  Transportation?  Class sizes?  SAT/ACT scores?  Number of NMSFs?  Anything else?

How about the schools you attended?  Are your kids’ schools better or worse?

Did your local high school make it on the U.S. News Best High Schools Ranking?

Use GreatSchools to complete the following surveys for the HIGH SCHOOL your child attends, attended, or will likely attend.  (Reduced price lunch program information is under the “details” tab.)


67 thoughts on “Tell us about your schools

  1. Not sure the Great Schools link is super helpful at this point, because our HS’s profile is very sparse, and I know they have a number of programs that aren’t identified (e.g., the website implies the only language offered is Spanish). We got a 7, whatever that means, and a “silver” from USN. Which, I think, both say that it’s a fairly diverse school in a MC/UMC inner-ring suburb outside a mid-market city.

    Pretty sure I can accurately predict where the surrounding schools would end up, because there’s a fairly direct correlation between school ranking and socioeconomic status.

  2. “there’s a fairly direct correlation between school ranking and socioeconomic status”

    I agree. Our high school is a 6 and has 50% free lunch and 22% white demographics. That said, the comments and criticisms about our school are fairly spot on.

  3. Our schools are around 8-9. We don’t have any charter schools or magnets as far as I know. We also don’t use private schools – those are $30-$45K per kid per year. Our elementary schools are based on where you live – those boundaries can shift if families move, but they don’t separate siblings if one sibling is already enrolled. Only one kid in school right now, but so far it seems good (if a little light on the music + art for my taste).

    We recently looked at a house in a town further out that has (supposedly) slightly better schools than our town, but didn’t get it. It was about $350K less than our house would sell for now and was AWESOME with pool, big walkout basement nicely finished, outdoor speakers, etc. Sigh. I am kind of glad that we don’t have to sell our house in a hurry, but annoyed that we can’t move to that awesome house.

  4. We are on the border of the two HS districts in our town, so we could choose if we went public. No charters, magnets, or other options in town.We sent our kids to pirvate (Catholic) schools K-12

    What do you like about your schools? Actual teaching…not teaching to a test. Kids’ HS 1 of ~13 that are exempt from NY Regents testing for HS diploma.

    Have your children been well served by their schools? Yes, very. Good choice by the parents. The no Regents is a very big deal to me.

    Demographics? Mostly white, mostly Catholic, but certainly not all on either account. Much more racially and economically mixed than if they had attended either of the public HS in our town.

    Amount of homework? ~30-45 min/night/subject. Usually 4-5 classes with homework per night, since e.g. arts, computer, PE, don’t usually have homework and no all classes meet every day.
    Grading? Fair to all. Do the F******G work and you’ll get good grades, kids.

    Discipline policies? Somewhat uneven. Pretty clearly stated.

    Quality of instruction? Good. Teachers want to be there. No union, no contracts beyond 1 year. Pay is competitive with public. I think the teachers like being there because they actually have freedom to teach.

    Technology? Good.

    Communication to parents? I get what I need. Access has never been an issue.

    How they address needs of special education and/or gifted students? There is an admissions test with a minimum cut-off. Little accommodation for kids who need extra time, etc. Gifted is the normal in the school, so plenty of encouragement, freedom to grow/explore/advance is there.

    Choice of extra-curriculars? Many, academic-focus, sports, community service

    Transportation? Public busing available to all students within 15 miles of home mandated by state law.

    Class sizes? max of about 25; many, esp Jr/Sr yrs smaller

    SAT/ACT scores? Tops in the area, except for one other much smaller and much more expensive private.

    Number of NMSFs? 2-3/yr

    The local alumni of my kids HS is VERY WELL connected; if they choose to live/work/raise a family here after college they already have their network set.

    Because my kids went private, no USNews or Great Schools rankings but compared with the relevant local schools, their school would probably be comparable to Top ~100 HS nationally and a 10 on GreatSchools. (Both the local publics in our town are top 125 nationally)

    How about the schools you attended? My HS is currently #216 nationally per USNews; a 10 on GreatSchools.

  5. Great Schools ratings are just test score averages relative to the rest of the state. The average is one indicator, but it doesn’t tell the range, which is important to knowing what’s offered to the upper quintile of students.

    Assuming a parent is not interested in diversity, a high school that’s a 10 is pretty attractive when your child is four years old. It’s less attractive when reality sets in and they’re stressed and struggling to finish in even the top half of the class, and will never be able to stand out enough to be a varsity captain or a drama lead or newspaper editor.

  6. Looking at the rankings the best schools in my state are in the Research triangle.
    As I have mentioned here, apart from the zoned neighborhood schools there are magnets, charters, religious private schools, independent private schools and homeschooling. Also, in the same family, one kid may go to a public school, another may go to a private school or the much discussed arts magnet. Exploring our options is a phrase I hear.

  7. The high school that I attended is in the top 50 in the US, and in the top 10 in NY state. Our local HS is in the top 50 in NY state, but mid 100s in the country. I would say this is accurate except the class size at my own HS was very large due to NYC budget and teacher contract. Most classes and this included AP classes had 32 – 34 kids. The resources that are still available at that HS today are from private donations that didn’t exist to the same extent in the 80s. Parents and alums raise money so that some of these public schools in NYC are “private” publics. The reputation of this HS is extra special, and it was that kind of experience.

    My local HS is very good, but I wouldn’t describe it as special because the most of the teachers are average, I’ve met some great teachers, but most are average. Ive already met so many of them because it is a small community, and I over volunteer for all of the school stuff. A lot of the technology that is in the schools now – chrome books, ipads, 3d printers, smart music etc etc is all paid for by donations from the PTA or education foundation. The school technology budget is much smaller due to the tax caps. The technology is strong, but it is privately funded, and i see this in surrounding districts too. Some of the lower income districts near us applied for, and received grant money to supply chromebooks etc.

    I think my district offers excellent services if you need any kind of service for your child. This is from infancy to age 21 if needed. I think that most of the parents of the kids in this communioty that receive these services would agree, and I know that believe moving here from other districts change their child’s life. For a kid like mine – probably within the top 10 – 15%, but not in the top 5%, she will probably receive a strong education. I think it will be similar to almost anything she could have received in most of the surrounding districts in my county. It is difficult to find extra time to stray from the curriculum due to the common core, and I see only the very best teachers using the creativity to teach ELA in a different way to make it more engaging.

    I am happy with the access to the school board and the administration of the district. I dislike so many things about the micro district, but I love the easy access to the people that make decisions or can help with problems. I also find that my friends that never volunteer have the exact same access if the call or email since the district si so small. If you are going to be in the same place for 13 years with the same administrators – you easily get to know the people that runs busing, sports, etc.

  8. DS attends a private Catholic boys’ school, so ditto to pretty much everything Fred said. Our local public high school has a “1” rating on Great Schools; the police are a constant presence and most of the kids who actually graduate read at a 5th grade level. Which is why DS goes to private school….

  9. I live in the Stapleton neighborhood in Denver and there has been so much DRAMA about the schools that my head just spins — and I don’t even have school-aged children! At one point you were supposed to be able to pick any of the Stapleton schools for your kid regardless of which part of the development you were in, but then it changed and now 50% of the enrollment at each school is decided by proximity and 50% by choice. The screams! The gnashing of teeth and rending of garments! If there was this much political unrest about war in the Middle East we’d never have gotten involved over there. It’s insane. There is a mailing list called “Stapleton Moms”, and the moms are all former lawyers who now wear Lululemon and beat the snot out of the Superintendent. I just watch from a distance, hiding behind the curtains. And of course the insane thing is that all the schools in the area are excellent because it’s all about SES.

  10. Fred described my kids school. So far, so good, no complaints either from us parents or from the kids.

  11. Anon, I’ve heard about the Stapleton issues. I’m glad I’m not in the area. I just can’t imagine there’s that much difference between the schools.

    I’m down in the SE area where they are opening the new Hampden Heights school and they are making it a shared-boundary with two other schools. I can’t wait to see how upset people will be when they don’t get in to the new school.

  12. Our schools are rated 10, but the conventional wisdom is that the scores are good because the parents are smart and wealthy enough to make up for the shortcomings of the schools. Like Mckayla, I am NOT impressed. DS is going to a private school next year. Once we see how that goes, we may well pull out DD. 8th grade DS was assigned only one book to read in English this year. Neither child has been required to write a proper research paper of any kind – not even one on dolphins or just a report on our state. I can go on and on but in the end, my experience is that the bulk of the resources and energy are put to the ends of the distribution, that is the super smart and the super troubled. The rest of the us have to battle for what is left.

  13. We have school choice, which is really nice. Our kids have been going to a K-8 charter, which is coming to an end for DS after one more year. He is probably going to go to our designated HS because a lot of his friends are going to go there. It’s rated a 6 on great schools with about 50% free/reduced lunch. It has a mixed reputation academically but I’ve heard good things about it lately. I like that it’s relatively small (just over 1,000 students) so there are opportunities to make the sports teams and such.

    My HS is ranked 433 nationally in the US New rankings, although I really don’t think those are worh much. When I went there, it was excellent and was considered one of the top 5 or 10 in NJ.

  14. Milo,

    I’m shocked by the number of people who think a school’s high test scores are a result of value added by the school rather than a reflection of the quality of the students.

    Indeed, my understanding is there is some inverse correlation between school quality and life outcomes. It seems that a kid who is the the 95% will do better later in life having attended a school ranked 7 than the same kid will do having attended a school ranked 10.

  15. The public HS we are zoned for is a 3, the other two in our suburban district are a 5 and 7 per Great Schools. I think the 3 is a fair assessment, which is why we went private. 13 years ago, the district was much better, but got caught in the trap of bad economy (decrease in state and local revenue) and an influx of students, many middle income Asian. All 3 are traditional HS without any specialties and limited transfers.

    No school is perfect and no school meets every need of your child/family. On balance, we have done well in our Lutheran elementary/middle school for both DDs. DD#2 has some mild learning disabilities and they are more accomodating on paper than in practice. Based on test scores, the students, on average, are about 1 year above grade level. Kids who have gone on to the schools rated 5 and below on Great Schools do extremely well in HS, kids going to the 8-9 range are appropriately challenged if they choose the Pre-AP/AP or IB programs.

    Most of what Fred says also aligns at our school. DD#1 is in Catholic HS completing freshman year. She has 7 academic classes of which 5 are Pre-AP. She still finds the “busy work” and “organization” portions more challenging than the content. Their approach to math is very different from her previous school, so that course has taken adjustment. Next year is her first AP class and we will see how that goes.

    DD#2 – we will start seriously looking at HS for her in the fall. She is not her sister. While I would love to be a one school, with one calendar, and one commute, I am not sure that is going to be the case.

  16. We do have a small choice in charters, but only one has a good reputation at the HS level. You get in by lottery and it is quite small.

  17. Our elementary school is a 9 and the high school is an 8. Academics are good. Classes are big. Competition is intense. I think we’re going to go public. I am not thrilled about it. But, I am even less thrilled about spending $40k/year/kid, so unless it is a terrible experience, we’ll likely stick it out. The G&T school for our county is ranked #3 in the country. You couldn’t pay me to send any of my kids there.

  18. Our elementary is a 9, middle school is an 8 and high school is a 10. These all seem fine, and little other information is provided. The high school I attended is a 3. Communication from our school is excellent (the principal has six grown sons of her own) and the teachers are experienced and competent. Class sizes have been over 30, but they are trying to get them back to the 25-27 range. Funding ($6-7k/student) is typical for a US school but bussing costs are probably higher than average.

    Families are moving to our neighborhood as the university grows and housing near the university is being used by students. I suspect this will result in a bifurcated high school population of children of professionals in AP classes and ESL students. (ESL population district-wide has grown from ~5-11%)

  19. My kids are going to the same schools I attended – rated 8 and 9. My education was good and I think my kids’ education is going to be even better. Teacher quality was uneven when I was in school. So far, I’ve been impressed with my kids’ teachers and feel that teacher quality has likely improved quite a bit. It’s a public school district and teachers want to work here. There are also more AP and college credit classes available at the high school level.

    The technology education in early elementary has been impressive as well.

  20. I suspect this will result in a bifurcated high school population of children of professionals in AP classes and ESL students.

    Perfect! That’s the ideal.

  21. I had entered my first child in the language immersion magnet lottery but no luck with that. Our kids would have had a totally different educational experience if that had happened.

  22. Things I like/don’t like:

    1. Testing — falls into both categories. They do MAP testing 3x/yr — computer-based testing that challenges the kids with progressively harder questions until they start missing, to evaluate where the kid is, and then base their subsequent assignments on those results. This is extremely useful, especially since they now have heterogeneous classes. OTOH, the other tests that determine the schools’ rankings waste far too much time and influence the teaching too much.

    2. Common core — seeing much more focus on making sure the kids get it and can explain it. Like.

    3. Communication — Love the computer-based grades, *hate* that teachers don’t actually have to use it or post info in a timely manner. Trying to manage communications with 10 different teachers + 11 different policies/approaches + 1 ADHD kid = giant PITA. So grateful my kid is fairly close to the “normal” end of ADHD — if she actually required support from the school, I’d have to go part-time just to manage the daily stuff.

    4. The boundaries — 98% of our ES go to one MS; literally 10-20 kids are zoned for another. I see no logical reason on God’s green earth why they shouldn’t either do it 100/0 or 50/50, or some other more reasonable split. Of course, I also see no logical reason why they should have shut down the MS that was actually in the middle of our town 20 years ago, thus splitting the kids up into the other nearby towns. And now they are reopening that as an ES, which will just exacerbate the MS mess. And yet somehow, the new subdivisions in the area always seem to get zoned for the nicer local oversubscribed MS, even when they’re literally next door to people being bused 3 miles away. This is why I hate politics — that perception that it’s about influence and who you know instead of actually doing what makes sense.

    4. The schedule. Bat-shit crazy-making. We start before Labor Day and end around June 17-18 every year. We sprinkle half-days and partial weeks right and left — this year, we’re ending on a Thursday, and the last two days are always half-days. The best part is that, because we had so many snow days, they added an extra half-day right before Easter break — which they announced with all of one week’s notice; I guess it was too difficult to require a *full* day on a day when the kids were already scheduled to be in class.. And then, a month later, they announced that school was ending a day early, on Thursday instead of Friday! WTF? They are stuck in 1950s Pleasantville, where Mom is always happy to take a break from vacuuming in her pearls to go pick up the kids whenever it’s convenient for the school, and no one has to worry about the trivialities of a job or vacation days or scheduling coverage.

  23. Our neighborhood schools are ranked an 8, which seems about accurate. However they made it clear that they had no intention of offering any accommodations for my bright but learning challenged kids. Instead, they wanted to treat my son’s frustration with writing as a discipline issue even though they themselves had diagnosed the dysgraphia. So – we left. There is no real school choice, so I had been investigating private schools, but the only Catholic grade school out here (my preference as the other religious use Bob Jones University textbooks and are anti-evolution) had only 3 boys in a class of 32. I stumbled on the charter, and it’s STEM focused, and has been a good fit. It’s also an 8, and I have no idea if that’s accurate. All or most students pass the state tests, but this is the first graduating class so I have not yet seen SAT scores. The neighborhood school has only 2 NMSF out of a class of roughly 900, yet 1/3 of the class graduates with a GPA above an unweighted “A”. Another 13 were Commended. In contrast, the high school I went to had 7-8 out of a class of 160. I would have loved to send both my kids to my high school not because I think it would have turned them into NMSF (I do not believe that), but because of the attention paid to the whole student, service to others, community involvement, feeding your spiritual side, doing the right thing just because, etc. I really value a lot of the touchy-feely stuff as much as academics, but it is not picked up in ratings

  24. Our elementary school is a 10 and DD has had two awesome teachers and one that was so-so but it was kindergarten so no big deal. I think I’ve mentioned before that it seems like almost 50% of the kids in her grade are in the gifted program (as judged by system wide standards). Then middle school hits, the public is a 7 which seems fine to me, but a lot of people then shuttle their kids off to one of the Buckhead privates at $25K per year. I think now that DD is on the gifted track we’ll definitely be using the public middle and save that $75K over the three years. I think she may have a more rigorous education going private but we can’t justify it with three kids. Plus you spend all that money on private and if you’re kid isn’t in the top 25%, then they go to one of the lesser southern state schools because Georgia and Tech can only take so many from each school. I would rather save my $ and let my kids go to whatever college they wanted.

  25. LfB – Scheduling +1,000. When we moved to our ES/MS, part of it was because of schedule. ES had NO half days except the last day of school The only crazy part was a full day off before the last half day. It was a throwback to the 1950’s when report cards were done by hand and had to be manually processed. MS has always had optional half days the week of finals, but has “study hall” until the end of the study day if you did not come pick up. Now, it is all over the place and if you are a typical family with 2 parents that only gets 2 weeks off a year, you use it all up on all the odd days that are scheduled.

    HS has a number of days sprinkled throughout, but most HS can stay home alone and my kid was grateful to have some extra days to catch up on assignments. Unfortunately, most were used that way. They, too, have half days for finals and the building closes. Again, if needed she could ride the city bus home or to the library, etc.

  26. I didn’t realize until a few years ago how many cities offered school choice within public school districts, with the option to attend schools outside your neighborhood. Although since admission may be by lottery, real choices can be limited.

    We don’t have a choice beyond our zoned schools, but there’s a nearby district that offers magnet elementary schools. They offer one science and technology and another arts and humanities. I’d be hard pressed to choose a specialized school for my elementary-aged kid.

  27. “There is no real school choice” … “I stumbled on the charter”

    The charter option sounds like a real school choice. Charters schools are not practical options where I live.

  28. CoC, in our area, it seems pretty easy to attend another elementary school if you are willing to provide transportation- only a couple elementary schools that are at class size limits are unavailable. Parents who have a relative watching the kids before/after school often petition to attend an alternate school and it’s usually approved.

  29. The high school is only a 5 (and I think it was a 6 last time I looked). I believe it’s a magnet school as it’s way more diverse than our area actually is. The high school I went to is a 7 and have no idea how it is now, but it was very good when I was there. I had some truly awesome teachers and just a great experience all around. My high school has actually been in the news this week because of football.

  30. My hometown school district has what they call an open enrollment policy, whereby students in any part of town can apply to attend any other school, depending if there is room. I believe parents must provide transportation.

  31. CoC – yes, the charter is “choice”. Within our district there really is not choice as most of the schools are full. At the time I started looking, I did not know that it was an option to go outside our district. For example, we could not transfer into the Houston school district or any of the other surrounding districts. It is not well-publicized that charter schools are open to students from any district. There is no transportation offered, so you have to be able to get your student there, but for us that was not an obstacle. It is supposedly admission by lottery, but after an interview with the whole family, he was lucky enough to be selected. There is apparently a 4000 student waiting list now

  32. We are in Palo Alto, sadly. Gunn High is our slated HS. Kids are now in elementary and preschool. We have them in a district choice program that we love and is about as opposite to the HS as we can get. Kids will go to smallest middle school in the district, seems to be balanced. We are seriously talking about moving to keep our kids out of Gunn. Not sure where we’d go as Silicon Valley is insane — thinking completely out of area, but that is a work problem. Probably don’t need to say much about that as you all know about Gunn and crazy Palo Alto! Been a LONG-TIME lurker (from TOS). Rarely post, but enjoy the lively conversations.

  33. Forgot to mention that we have a fabulous new superintendent — maybe he will turn things around by the time our kids are middle and high school age…. we shall see. The crazy Tiger parents may run him out of town by then…..

  34. Probably don’t need to say much about that as you all know about Gunn and crazy Palo Alto!

    I’ve never heard of Gunn and all I know about Palo Alto is that houses are absurdly expensive.

  35. Gunn is one of two high schools in Palo Alto. (InMyDay there were three). My sister taught special ed at Gunn for about the last 15 years of her career, ending about three years ago. The big issue with Gunn is that there have been suicide clusters — one in the 2009-10 year and one just recently. The schools are very high-pressure. I was reading about the recent suicide cluster and was startled to learn that Gunn is about 50% Asian now; InMyDay all the high schools were maybe 7% Asian. And those Asian kids all spoke English, which is apparently not the case now.

    Yeah, so, super-high-pressure, and the kids have an unfortunate tendency to walk in front of trains. Train tracks go past both Gunn and Paly. The parents patrol them at night.

  36. “Train tracks go past both Gunn and Paly. The parents patrol them at night.”

    Holy $!3$%!! Not the kind of Neighborhood Watch I’d like to see around. Wow.

  37. The demographics for our high school look different from what others have been reporting. Per Wikipedia:

    As of [2012-2013 school year], the racial composition was as follows:

    White: 5.2%
    Black: 1.0%
    Hispanic: 2.2%
    Asian/Pacific Islander: 84.2%
    American Indian: 0.4%
    Multiracial: 7.0%

  38. Our local high school comes up as about an 8. Every time we have the discussion locally about “is it good enough” the examples from Palo Alto come up. I think our public is a decent public, but it’s not clear how much of a pressure cooker it is. (Better than terrible is not necessarily good.) Private is $40K plus per kid per year, so unless something significant changes between now and then I don’t see us going that route.

    We have school choice of a sort (via lottery) in the elementary district. My kids are in a K-8 program because we got lucky, we are willing/able to transport them to school ourselves, and we’re willing to do the required volunteer hour commitment required for the school. So far I’ve been really happy with the elementary school. There is a share of politics as everywhere, and some need to work around testing, but in general the kids learn what they need to and they still spend a lot of time on music, art, physical education, library time, etc.

  39. Having been through an academic pressure cooker system – I found most kids were just tired and burned out. They did get into higher ranked colleges and ended up making a decent living but hardly any were spectacularly successful as their parents thought would be the case given their great school records.

  40. I read the article about it a few weeks ago. With something like suicide, there is going to be an average prevalence, but of course there will be statistical outliers at either end. This will possibly be exacerbated by some copycat activity.

    But the article did not convince me that the suicides were somehow more prevalent than what you would expect from a random outlier, or that they were caused by academic pressure to succeed (as much as I would otherwise love to blame aggressive and out-of-touch tiger parents). The article even mentioned that a similar cluster had occurred on an American Indian reservation with presumably less academic pressure. I didn’t read anything about the teens that would suggest they were particularly distressed about school performance, or SATs, or college admissions. It’s just a general indictment based on “(higher-than-normal suicide rate) + (rich parents/competive school) therefore B must have caused A.”

  41. Milo – wouldn’t there by the potential for copycat activity everywhere? I think the hardest thing to divine is “why” since you cannot ask the person involved. A higher suicide rate on an Indian Reservation wouldn’t surprise me given the lack of opportunity. When you think about kids this well off, I think one makes the natural assumption that if it is not a lack opportunity that makes them feel hopeless, it must be unreasonable expectations.

  42. That article about Palo Alto suicides was heartbreaking. The pressure cooker environment sounds a lot like my high school experience; fortunately I’m not aware of any suicides from my alma mater. Several kids were severely injured in a freak accident on a field trip and even that was enough to almost break some of the teachers and administration. Can’t imagine what it’s like for a community to lose so many young people.

  43. Copycat suicides are a concern. We’ve had a 3-6 high schoolers commit suicide locally in the past 3 years, including the daughter of a technician I work with, and part of the reason I don’t know the number is I only hear about them through the grapevine. I suspect being Asian and male is a bigger factor than academic pressure in Palo Alto, given Asian culture and suicide.

  44. There was a suicide cluster around here at one of the local high schools. It is just so sad. I am not sure how you adequately convince teenagers that things will get better. I remember having very little perspective at that age.

  45. I had that thought as well, WCE, about Asians being at a greater risk for suicide (thinking back to articles I’ve read about suicide among Japanese businessmen), but according to the CDC Asians actually have a lower suicide rate in America than other ethnicities. So it might just be coincidence, or something about the unique interplay between race and culture in Palo Alto.

  46. I’ve commented here before about how discussions here have made me appreciate my kids’ school more, because I’ve not had to deal with many of the issues shared by others here. So I’ve just come up with one more: my kids’ school does not have half days.

    School days are whole days. Today is DD’s last day of school, and she has classes all day.

  47. Wow. That story about suicides in Palo Altogether is just heartbreaking. I cannot even imagine what the kids, parents and community is going through.

  48. DS knows a student at Gunn. He hasn’t’ talked to her about the suicides, but told me she has stuff about it on her FB page. Apparently that issue has cast quite a pall over the entire community.

  49. I think the worst thing in some of the Asian cultures is the comparison to other people. And it is not comparison to the outstanding qualities in one individual but a mosaic of qualities so in the end you have to be superwoman.
    I would need to be WCE in math, an LfB/PTM/HM in writing, RMS in philosophy, Milo when I learnt to drive, Rhett while negotiating, no way would my parents be happy with their ordinary daughter Louise.
    I was so glad the other day when MM mentioned the art award her DS got and Benefits Lawyer DS’s perfect attendance award.

  50. So I’ve just come up with one more: my kids’ school does not have half days.

    Same here. It’s really nice not having to deal with them.

  51. Honestly, I’m surprised they kinds of suicides aren’t more common. These kids basically have a stressful, high pressure job with long hours that they can’t quit and at the same time they can’t be fired. Add to that the tednancy of teens to live in the moment… Imagine if your boss sent your performance reviews home and your wife or husband was sitting at the kitchen table asking, “What do you mean you got a 3 in communicates effectively with stakeholders!?”

  52. Back OT, my kids’ school is not rated or ranked.

    US News says about my alma mater, “total minority enrollment is 85 percent..” I’m surprised; I thought there was no majority here, so every school would have a 100% minority enrollment.

  53. Lauren mentioned average teachers. One of the strengths of my kids’ school is the teachers, who typically have some pretty impressive CVs. The school is able to tap a different pool than the state DOE, in part because they’re not tethered to NCLB. They don’t require an education degree or certification, and for HS the emphasis is on subject matter expertise. They also offer free tuition for employees’ kids.

    E.g., DS’ AP Chem teacher has a PhD in chemistry, His Bio teacher got two science degrees in 3 years from UPenn. His English teacher (who he really likes) is here during her law school application year; next year she’s back to Y after turning down H and S (to borrow LfB’s parlance). Two of his language teacher wrote the textbook series. One of DD’s 6th grade teachers has 2 degrees from S.

    To large extent, the faculty and student body mirror each other; many of the faculty are also alumni.

  54. “Imagine if your boss sent your performance reviews home and your wife or husband was sitting at the kitchen table asking, ‘What do you mean you got a 3 in communicates effectively with stakeholders!?'”

    Rhett this funny but devastating and truthful comment epitomizes why you are so valuable here.

  55. I hate the many half-days, which are usually wasted learning days for the kids and create complications for working parents. Some of the half days dismiss at around 10:A. As far as I can tell, they have these half-days to help make up the minimum required 180 school days, which is a sham as far as I’m concerned.

  56. PTM – Re Rhett’s comment – it is a lot easier to withstand these sorts of pressures as an adolescent if you are just counting the days until you can leave home and all this behind. In tight clans, whether blue collar factory neighborhoods, striving immigrants with culture of shame, hothouse People Like US UMC suburbs, many kids today don’t perceive that they can escape physically at 17 or 18, or can’t imagine paying the emotional or financial cost to do so. Even when kids go to college and have no money worries they often stay within a manageable drive of home.

  57. Meme,

    I think you’re exactly right. In addition:

    Research over the last couple of decades has shown that people who feel they have no control, no autonomy over the job they do in the work place are likely to get a stress related illness.

    I think the research all started with the Whitehall Study:

    As I’ve mentioned, even at Palo Alto High c. 1985 a 16 year old would often have a job, a car, and a a significant amount of autonomy over their day. Many kids would be independently responsible for getting to work, getting to practice, doing homework, etc. Now, you’ve dramatically increased the workload and stress level and removed almost all of the autonomy. The research says that is extraordinarily corrosive to ones mental and physical health.

  58. I completely agree with the need for control/autonomy. I also agree it is harder for teens to have today. Some of what contributes to that is (1) zero-tolerance policies that leave no room to screw up and recover from it, (2) belief that kids aren’t mature enough to be responsible until after college, and (3) helecopter parenting.

    As parents, we have tried to start backing off each year, but school can make it difficult. For example, as a MS student, I think it is my kid’s responsibility to bring home, download, or ask me to obtain any form needed (few exceptions) for school and to request the payment be made. When teachers send it directly to parents and tell students, it was sent to your parents, that tells the kids they aren’t old enough to be responsible. That doesn’t mean that I do not want to know about these forms and payment needs, but it should be information for me to allow follow up with my kid.

  59. I was shocked to find out that the HS that I attended is a 10 on Great Schools. It was a good school I suppose, but it is a small town HS with a diverse population socioeconomically (the region has limited diversity ethnically). Not at ALL a pressure cooker. Less than half of my graduating class went on to 4-year college, and we had a Vo-tech/Ag program that took a good portion of the student body. I am utterly shocked that it is so high.

    As far as our current situation goes – I’ve written about a lot of this before. But our zoned ES is a 1 and our zoned HS is a 4. They are both labeled “failing” schools and are not real choices for us. There are 4 different public magnet/test-in schools within easy walking distance from our house, but he did not get in. He tested into another school that was far from our house, and had other issues. In our area, Charter schools seem to be more aimed at the very poor and seem to be focused more on taking kids out of “1” schools and putting them into “4” schools. So we chose private for a lot of reasons, but one of the main ones being that wanting to stay in the neighborhood where we are, it was a no brainer. We are not unique and neither is our neighborhood.

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