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How important is school?

Posted: Thu Sep 27, 14:46 2018
by antfancier
Like, is it really important to go to a good school? And what does that even mean?

I live on the border between a really good school district and one that’s really not so good. I’m on the ‘good’ side, but the only reason we can afford it is because the apartment is less than ideal so it’s a good bargain for the area. I can’t see us staying long term, but then I feel all guilty because I’m depriving my son of his highly sought after place at these ‘good’ schools and, you know, we all want the best opportunities for our kids. (As an aside, he’s two and a half. I didn’t even think this was something I had to consider right now except that all my parent friends are already talking about school registration. I’m freaking out because I’ve realized I know nothing about how the school system works in this country.)

So I started thinking about what makes a good school. In high school I went to a ‘good’ school and remember thinking it was just a bunch of already privileged students whose outcomes were not really based on what teachers did or didn’t do. I felt really out of place and didn’t like it much. I worry that my kid’s experience will be the same if he ends up going to school surrounded by the economically advantaged families that live in this area. Then again, maybe it would be good for him...character building or whatever.

What do you think are the features of a good school? I mostly just want the kids to not be shot or stabbed, and to have teachers that care.

Re: How important is school?

Posted: Fri Sep 28, 8:45 2018
by Taurwen
Well, I think home life matters a lot. I have no intention of letting the school teach my kid a lot of things, I firmly believe elementary school at least should be a safety net. Both for kids who's parents don't have the time/resources to teach them, and for subjects their parents aren't strong at (Hello History!).

My only real experience though is between the schools my sister and I went to for High School. Mine was pretty normal by all accounts and hers was very competitive (the reason we went to different schools was just timing. We were both in French Immersion but by the time she went to school my high school had stopped their French program so she had to go to a bigger town's school)
She did well enough, had to give up a lot of her sports because while she was used to playing for fun and to let off steam at her new school it was serious business (even though she was asked to join both the soccer and football team) and she was able to keep up her fantastic grades...
Until she wasn't. Eventually it got to be too much for her and everything crumbled. Her grades didn't just falter they failed. Her teachers abandoned her. The system left her behind because she was no longer preforming at the level they wanted her to. And that was really hard for her, eventually she tried to take her own life. (She's doing fantastic now btw)
Meanwhile, I went to a lesser school, my grades were never that great. But man, I liked my teachers, my teachers seemed to like me. They often expressed frustration that I wasn't meeting my potential but I never felt like I was letting them down or that our relationships would change based on my test scores.

Which is all to say: I think there are a lot of other things that go into a kid's experience than if they go to a good or not-so-good school.
I realize it might be even more complicated in the states where funding is a huge issue. But I'm not convinced it's so different that a kid's whole life course will change based on where they learned their ABCs

Re: How important is school?

Posted: Fri Sep 28, 11:53 2018
by Sonic#
antfancier wrote: So I started thinking about what makes a good school. In high school I went to a ‘good’ school and remember thinking it was just a bunch of already privileged students whose outcomes were not really based on what teachers did or didn’t do.
Ding ding ding!

This is something that has come up recurrently in both the research I look at and some of the more popular podcasts I've listened to when they've had education experts. What I've seen: students from higher income households who are in a lower-rated school do *fine*. Income correlates more to a student's performance than the school. This makes sense - parents who don't have to work two jobs likely have time to provide more out-of-school support. Furthermore, the higher-income parents can also afford opportunities (museum trips, experiential learning, tutoring) that other families don't have. So those students are usually fine.

Does this mean the school or the quality of teaching doesn't matter at all? No, of course not. But it does show that a student who attends a school with a less-than-stellar rating will be fine if their parents are middle class. It's kids from impoverished households who need a school attended by students from a broad range of income brackets. And (to get on a high horse for one sentence) it's those kids who are left behind by neighborhoods and school systems that segregate based on income, race, and/or performance.

Re: How important is school?

Posted: Fri Sep 28, 15:27 2018
by Enigma
I went to a elementary school with great scores and had a generally bad experience then went to a high school with a bad reputation and had a fantastic experience. Mind you this is in Canada and I think funding is different in the States. I was definitely a case of a middle class student in a bad reputation school doing just fine.

Re: How important is school?

Posted: Tue Oct 2, 15:23 2018
by melsbells
I think it depends on how terrible it is. I grew up in the U.S. in a state with a funding system ruled illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court. My siblings started in a non-prestigious private school because the public schools were so terrible. My parents couldn't afford to send me as well, so we moved to a marginally better school district. Funding was always a problem and the school was going down-hill because of it. Both of my siblings had more class options than me, and my cousins who attended after me had even less, including partial days so the district could save operation costs. One of the things about lack of funding that isn't obvious is the artificial rivalry it creates between sports and arts. I'm not really sure what Middle Class means anymore. I still have this idea that I grew up middle class, maybe lower middle class. I knew we weren't poor because we had running water and didn't go hungry. At university, one of my "Middle Class" friends' father's got 1/4th of his salary cut and she was having a rough time. Then I found out that cut was more than my family's combined income. So I didn't find out I was one of the poor kids until going to a school that reportedly had an economic spread mirroring that of the U.S. as a whole. But, I was still in a good enough position, that I don't think my not very good school set me back much. But I also dropped out of university and am currently unemployed, so take that as you will.
Things that made my school not a good school was factually out of date text books, lack of foreign language courses, arts courses dependent on voter approved funding, dangerous building problems (like mold), and the resignation from some teachers that students weren't going to achieve anything out of life. I actually had a lot of good teachers, but because we segregated by performance within the school, the kids who weren't achieving as highly tended to get placed with those who had given up. Then some of my teachers who were decently motivated to teach the advanced segregated class spoke disparagingly of their other students. Things that would make for a good school other than the opposite of those things just listed would include diversity of the student body and faculty and disciplinary action that doesn't rely on removing kids from the classroom.

Re: How important is school?

Posted: Sat Oct 6, 3:26 2018
by geldofc
I don't think school districts matter too much. I saw kids from the less funded schools often going onto ivy leagues and stuff.

I went to a good school too and the atmosphere immediately made me want to leave and finish with independent study, and I did.

Re: How important is school?

Posted: Fri Oct 26, 5:31 2018
by Pikachu
Worse than useless. School is psychologically damaging. ... ssues.html

If you can show up on time, work with other people, follow orders, learn and repeat basic routines, you're fit for most work.

Re: How important is school?

Posted: Thu Nov 22, 15:05 2018
by Skeezy
I think the most important factor in any school is how much the teachers care about the students. Another important element is safety and how interactions between students can substract from learning. Many parents go to jail for quite lengthy sentences for trying to send to their kids to a safe good school.

I would say its very important, because what you learn shapes and molds yours views that make you who you are.