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School days school days dear old rotten rule days.

 
 
boomerang
 
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Reply Wed 19 Oct, 2005 05:20 pm
I never went to a really big school so I just assumed that the class size had to be big too, Linkat, thanks for setting me straight.

Class size is supposed to be one of the most critical factors, I do know that.

It sounds like your daughter's school has more of an enforced dress code than a uniform. When I was in school, up until high school anyway, dress codes were pretty strict. And enforced.

One thing this discussion points out is that there are experts for every position imaginable! Beyond the experts there is everyone else's opinion.

We can all point to people who dropped out and did fine and to people who have PhDs who are slackers and nobody really knows what made the difference.

I knew kids in public school who were brilliant. My best friend and neighbor was one of them. Absolutely brilliant and never cracked a book it seemed. She did all kinds of advanced mathmatics, played a wicked game of golf, played piano like you wouldn't believe and had a brilliant imagination for cooking up schemes.

She was also a wild little druggy chick who got pregnant at 17, had the baby, dropped out of high school, took her GED, got a job (this was 1976 or so) working with computers, made a lot of money and last time I checked, was living happily ever after.

Really. Who knows?
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colorbook
 
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Reply Wed 19 Oct, 2005 05:25 pm
bookmark
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sozobe
 
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Reply Wed 19 Oct, 2005 05:29 pm
Weelllll, I think that's the weakness of anecdotal evidence. (I really think that my public school didn't just happen to have a lot of smart kids, but made them).

But I do think that when we step out of the anecdotal and start looking at actual empirical scientific studies 'n' stuff, there are more reliable findings.

For example, if there are claims made that uniforms increase attendance or academic performance or reduce violence, that can actually be measured in a scientific way. And what they have come up with seems to indicate that uninforms, as a variable, don't accomplish much at all and even sometimes seem to have negative effects.

Here's more on uniforms:

http://www.aprod.org/myths.htm

But, and fishin' and I have talked about this before, I'm generally suspicious of educational fads. I think that a single gifted teacher, left to his or her own devices, will do better than a passel of mediocre teachers who follow some "proven method." And there are way too many mediocre teachers, in general. (That's a whole 'nother direction... Dave Eggers is doing some interesting stuff there, tho.)
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sozobe
 
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Reply Wed 19 Oct, 2005 05:33 pm
Oh and meanwhile I've been thinking about the year-round vs. summers off thing, not sure yet! Linkat makes some really good points.
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boomerang
 
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Reply Wed 19 Oct, 2005 05:40 pm
Yes, anecdotal evidence doesn't amout to much.

Good ole' "Lou" though. I haven't thought of her in years and now I'm wondering about her happily ever after. That was one smart girl, I'm telling you.

Stupid too, though.

<shaking head>

I don't get nostalgic often. Acid flashback maybe.

I'm thinking of breaking parts of this question down into smaller chunks just to see what happens. I'm all angsty and such and need something to occupy my brain.
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jespah
 
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Reply Wed 19 Oct, 2005 07:55 pm
Quick hello to Ms. Duck. Smile

And also -- I went to a high school where the classes (e. g. the graduating years) had about 400 kids in 'em. So it was around 1200 kids in the school. Classes ranged from 30 down to 10 students. I don't think I ever saw a class with more than maybe 31 kids in it. Teachers did not have help unless there was a student teacher.

Our school offered French, Spanish, Italian, German and, believe it or not, Japanese. We were offered AP classes in Calc., Bio, Physics, Amer. History, Euro. History and English. I took 3 of those, plus a Physics class that was just below AP, a Calc. class that was just below AP, plus 4th year Spanish, all in my senior year. It was, I swear, considerably tougher than my first year in college.

AP classes were small, my AP English class had 10 kids in it, the other AP English class had, I think, 25. AP Am. Hist. and Bio were both about 30 kids apiece. The slightly lower level Calc. and Physics classes were 30 kids. Spanish was kind of a throwaway then, I had already been through 5 years of French, mostly with about 30 other kids in each class, same for Spanish. When classes got too big, they just offered them more times.

I think pretty much everyone in all of those classes I'm mentioning went to some sort of college. It was just what you did. This is not to say there weren't stoners, etc., but they went to college, too -- two were good friends of mine, one went to Suffolk Community and the other went to SUNY Stonybrook and became a respiratory therapist.

We weren't without trouble, one of the kids in my class was gunned down during our senior year (by another guy in my senior class), and a kid in the following year committed suicide, via pistol. One, maybe two gals, were Moms at a time when that just wasn't favored.
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FreeDuck
 
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Reply Thu 20 Oct, 2005 07:01 am
Ok, not quite enough time to say all I want to say but here goes.

Totally agree with Noddy. Everyone knows that small classes (and preferably small schools) make all the difference but it's the one thing nobody wants to implement, probably because of the cost. Children do better when they think somebody cares whether they do well or not. That can't happen when they feel anonymous.

Uniforms -- still thinking on that. My knee jerk reaction is that it could help when there is great variation in economic status among the students, but that it wouldn't overcome more fundamental problems.

Community involvement -- huge. I love what jes had to say and totally agree with that. The school that duckie goes to is amazing in that regard. Massive community involvement, very small classes, well-designed classrooms, young and energetic teachers, high expectations and a fabulous after care program. The only thing I don't like about it is that it is kind of far from where we live and it's in a neighborhood that we could never afford to live in so it's not a "neighborhood" school. But it's very mixed culturally and economically which I really appreciate. They also teach foreign language, which is very unusual for the elementary level.

Year-round school -- I kind of like it the way it is because it gives us the opportunity to take interesting family vacations and possibly send the kids to summer camps where they can get experiences they might not get in school. But I can be pursuaded on that.

Of course, all this is with regard to elementary school and I firmly believe that middle/junior high is a whole different animal. Kids have very different needs at that point and I think that small class size is even more important for this phase of development.

As to my own experience, I went to very poor quality public schools. I guess you could say that I turned out ok, but it's not the education I would choose for my kids. I think my path to "ok" would have been much shorter had I had a better education. Any success I had was just because I wanted to succeed in order to leave my parents' house and the city and state where I lived. Nobody ever asked me if I'd done my homework, but I always did it. It's funny, I was talking to my brother about it. Nobody ever asked him either and he never did his homework. In short, it was very clear to both of us that our futures and our educations were completely up to us and if wanted to learn we'd have to do it ourselves. We chose different paths, but in the end we both turned out pretty ok. I know some people would say that's how it should be but I'm of the opinion that young children shouldn't have that kind of power.
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Linkat
 
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Reply Thu 20 Oct, 2005 08:37 am
Jespah - I can beat you on the language thing - my high school had Lithuania as a language course.

Also, for those not so academically inclined, we also had a full serving restaurant. Kids could take courses to prepare themselves for a job in the restaurant industry. We also had a planetarium in our school. Your AP classes sound similar to ours too - smaller classes.
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boomerang
 
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Reply Thu 20 Oct, 2005 10:59 am
Do all high schools now offer AP courses?

If not, how is it decided which schools offer what.

I know my niece did many AP courses last year and college seems easy-breezy to her so far.

Another little niece of mine is very, very smart. She went to high school in Podunk, Oklahoma. She ended up having to spend her senior year attending a nearby junior college because her high school didn't have enough to offer her.

FreeDuck, I'm really curious about your thoughts on Ducky's old school. What did you/he not like about it?

Is he now going outside of your district? How did you arrange that?

You really hit it with "not the education I would chose for my child". I went to an interesting mix of terrible and wonderful schools. My parents were lackadasical about homework and such but they clearly so respected smartness that there wasn't a lot of question in what was expected of us.

Side note: I got in trouble in high school for skipping out (a lot). My dad was called to school for a meeting, which I attended. Dad said "if you keep her interested, she'll show up, otherwise, it's her choice".

I want to make sure Mo goes to a school that keeps him interested by offering a wide range of interesting things.
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FreeDuck
 
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Reply Thu 20 Oct, 2005 11:22 am
Ducky's old school was fine, I can't really complain, it's just that his new one is way better. We rented an apartment in a good school district after I did some investigation so he is in the correct school district. (Update if you didn't know: we moved to Atlanta) It's just that in PA kindergarten was only about 2 hours long (shorter on Fridays), the teachers were nice but expectations didn't seem very high and inspiration wasn't abundant. Here it's full day with a wonderful after care program that offers extracurricular education from outside business like dance, chess, etc... It just seems like they take it to the next level here. There is a very inclusive atmosphere in his new school. The high school that his school feeds does the international baccalaureate (can't spell) so they start teaching French in elementary to prepare for it. The classes are small and the range of topics taught is wider than his old school. Expectations are high. Atlanta has a public pre-K program so most kindergarteners already know their letters and some basic phonics when they start -- duckie just started learning them this year. He's actually a little bit behind but he's a bright boy and catches up quickly. It's a city school and is very diverse both culturally and economically. He has an unusual first and last name that his old school constantly took notice of -- they don't bat a lash here.

My parents were something like yours with regard to being lackadaisacal. They did value smartness but seemed to think it was something one was born with. They rewarded good grades but didn't teach us the long term importance of doing well in school. In short, they assumed we just knew. We didn't, and just made it up as we went along.

I want to make sure my kids go to schools that keep them interested too. And I think part of that is just having things available to them and having someone (me) suggesting that they try it or find out about it.
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parados
 
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Reply Thu 20 Oct, 2005 12:17 pm
When it comes to private schools vs public schools, the biggest difference is parental involvement. If a parent is willing to send a child to private school you can pretty much guarantee they are involved in their child's education. Parental involvement at a private school approaches 100% compared to who knows what at a public school. 50%? less? more?

Any study that tries to statistically compare schools has to try to account for any variables. How can you accurately measure and compare parent involvement in a study of schools? If parents are willing to try school uniforms perhaps it is only showing parental involvement? As more and more schools move to uniforms the parental involvement reverts back to the lower level hence the studies that now show no difference.

This is what it is really about - Parents that read to their kids growing up. Parents that make sure homework is done and are capable of helping with it if needed. Parents are role models. If a parent has no interest in education how can we expect the children to?

Parents that are just interested in what their child does at school can make a difference. The real question is how to make up for those parents that aren't doing their job.
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boomerang
 
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Reply Thu 20 Oct, 2005 12:49 pm
No more toilet-town, FreeDuck! Hurrah! Atlanta is supposed to be great.

I was reading a parenting book recommended by Devious Britches and it has a lot about "natural consequences". I think our parents might have been way ahead of the curve in teaching the natural consequences method regarding schooling!

That is a really good point, parados - about the difference between parental involvement in public and private schools.

How DO you make up for those parents? The few kids who don't care, or whose parent's don't care can slow down the whole class.

One of the things I like about the Montessori method of teaching is that classes are not so age-defined.
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Linkat
 
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Reply Thu 20 Oct, 2005 12:49 pm
Wow! My old high school as large as it is - got mostly 5 ratings. There was only one negative comment. And even though so large - the student/teacher ratio is 15. InterestingÂ…

My daughter's school (probably because of its size) did not have any ratings - so I input my own, hopefully to help any other parents. Great website.
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sozobe
 
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Reply Thu 20 Oct, 2005 02:51 pm
Really nice summary parados, I agree wholeheartedly.

Just read a bunch of impassioned letters to the editor from my local paper in favor of the school levy -- happy to be here just for those, happier if it passes.

I do have a couple of hats on with this one, in that I want to do what's best for my daughter and am pretty secure in that, so the other hat gets a little more powerful, the M.Ed/ teacher hat. And I think public schools are so incredibly important in the scheme of things.

I cannot STAND No Child Left Behind. Another whole topic. Shocked
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jespah
 
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Reply Thu 20 Oct, 2005 02:54 pm
Will come back here, prolly tomorrow, we were discussing schools at work today and my boss had quite an interesting tale to tell.
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