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My Take on America's Public School Problem

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by qtlaw24, Aug 4, 2015.

  1. qtlaw24

    qtlaw24 Active Member

    I was very involved in my local school district for the past 8 years, was a PTA president (only male ever at our elementary school!), board member of our education foundation, and unsuccessfully ran for a school board seat. I also have clients that build and renovate the public schools.

    At least in California, one of the major issues appears to be that voters have no problem sinking billions into new shiny schools, but then they balk at providing additional funding for actual teachers, lower class sizes and more actual education time. This monetary cycle sends the wrong message to the parents, the teachers and the students.

    One example, a local school is spending over $100M for a new high school through bond money. I grew up next to that school over 40 years ago, and that school is still going to provide a subpar education because there are new walls and athletic facilities but not one more $ for actual teaching or increased curriculum choices. Meanwhile, my kids are fortunate enough to attend a high school that is probably 50+ years old, not crumbling, but not recently renovated, that offers a wide curriculum, from digital design to auto shop to a wide variety of AP courses to engineering. There are a great number of more factors in play, namely socio-economic ones.

    My point though is that while people have no problem spending on infrastructure, they balk immediately when it comes to more $$ for actual teaching. Every time I hear of a new school being built or renovated, I think "yeah but the education level is still going to stay the same." I truly wish it were not true.
     
  2. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    When they build a new school, lots of people make money.

    When they pay teachers more, only teachers make more money.

    I am a huge proponent of public schools, but, man, what a bunch of battles there are every day to do the right thing.

    For the record, I think the only advantage most private schools have is that they can weed out students they don't want.
     
  3. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

  4. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    Charter schools too. They're supposed to let in anyone who wants, but within a week they send half the class back for some "behavioral problem."

    We have an interesting situation in California. The private and "elite" public HS students get to their senior years and put in college applications only to find that their 4.0+ and big SAT scores don't help with UC admission because they don't rank highly enough in their own class. It turns out a lot of (perhaps even the majority of) kids would have been better off at their neighborhood school for those purposes.
     
  5. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    The other issue complicating things, qt, are restrictions on school districts' money. The teachers' salaries and the money to build/maintain school buildings usually are in different budgetary funds, and a surplus in one can't be used for the other.

    But I agree with your overall point ... shiny new buildings don't solve all, or even most, of our education problems.
     
    qtlaw24 likes this.
  6. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Yes. I have heard that in Texas, if you graduate in the top 10 percent of your class, you can automatically get into the University of Texas, and some parents complain that their darlings may not be in the top 10 percent but went to an elite school, etc.

    My son went to a public school, but it's a magnet with the math, science, technology kids among the magnets. They don't rank kids in the school. If you had a 3.9 GPA, you would not even be in the top 25 percent because 1/4 of the senior class graduated with 4.0s or better.

    If they did rank the class, some of those high achievers would probably keel over dead trying to outdo each other.
     
  7. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    Yeah, Ace, here it's 9 percent.

    One of the private schools here had 180 of 400 graduates with a 4.0 GPA or better. If a public school did that everyone would think it represented a criminal lack of standards. But since it's a private school it's because those kids are so damn smart!
     
    Ace likes this.
  8. doctorquant

    doctorquant Well-Known Member

    It varies slightly from year to year. It was the top 7% this year.
     
  9. JohnHammond

    JohnHammond Well-Known Member

    Better for the helicopter parents to send their precious little snowflakes to the worst-performing schools and save the cash for private tutoring.
     
  10. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    Well, and also that private and charter school kids, the vast majority of the time, have parents who have made an active decision to send the kids there. That helps a lot.
     
  11. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    True, you are weeding out the kids whose parents aren't involved from the get-g0. That's the biggest problem with public education. So many kids with little support who come in behind at the start.

    I think schools do a better job now teaching certain things like Math, Science and Technology plus English. But probably not as well-rounded with shop and automotive classes. That was normal when I went to school.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2015
  12. Human_Paraquat

    Human_Paraquat Active Member

    Was just talking about this the other day with someone. Looking back, I was very lucky to have had teachers for parents. I started school way ahead of many of my peers in terms of reading level, math skills, etc. While I didn't parlay that into fame and fortune, I know some of those other kids never really caught up. Kids struggling in 1st grade were often the same kids struggling in 12th grade.

    Short version: how many people who are gas station cashiers in their 30s came from stable families who take initiative in their kids' education? That transcends socioeconomic factors. I agree we should hire more teachers and pay the better ones more. But I think that's a secondary factor to success.
     
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