Newsweek's Top 100 US High Schools

chisueMay 21, 2012

What amazing alchemy. How hard is it to turn gold into gold? (Probably even easier for the school with a student-teacher ratio of five to one.)

Where are the non-magnet, non-tax-wealthy schools? Where are the non-selective schools with realistic percentages of students from poor homes?

What does it mean that a high percentage of graduates (of any school) are *admitted* to some college? What colleges? How many graduate, and with what degrees? (Oh dear, finding out those things would take too much time and research.)

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hamiltongardener(CAN 6a)

I'm not sure I understand what the problem is.

If a high school does well and it's students are performing well, that should be a desirable thing. Use them as a means to improve other schools.

If schools with a better student-teacher ratio perform better, then present that as evidence that we should be hiring MORE teachers.

Magnet schools aren't necessarily a bad thing, they allow children with certain gifts to come together and improve themselves. That shouldn't be sneered at, it should be encouraged.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 4:30PM
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Chisue, can you elaborate on what the intent of your OP is?
It's rather confusing to me what it is you are trying to say.
My children happened to graduate from one of the schools on the list.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 4:49PM
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Bronx High School of Science it has been for years got gold 86% college radio 75% minority enrollment. Ranked 64 in the Nation.
Graduated 7 Nobel Prize Physicists & 6 Pulitzer Prize Winners not bad!
Teachers student teacher ratio 21 to 1

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 5:50PM
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I'm not saying these are not good schools. I am saying they have nothing to teach us about *ordinary* public schools. The vital 'ingredient' in the successes here is the quality of the students attending.

The list is full of selective schools that hand-pick the best and brightest students. Many of the other schools are among the best-tax-funded schools in the country. Those students come from advantaged family backgrounds; they start 'ahead of the game' and do not require the same financial assistance to pay for college.

I've always wondered about actual college degrees earned for *all* secondary schools that trumpet 99% college admittance stats. Does it go beyond admittance, and, what are they doing for (gasp) non-college-bound students?

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 6:56PM
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hamiltongardener(CAN 6a)

Does it go beyond admittance, and, what are they doing for (gasp) non-college-bound students?

Well, I suppose if the student is not bound for college then I'm not sure what the high school would do for them, beyond giving them their high school education.

As for what happens to those students in their post secondary education, I think it's generally that post secondary institution that tracks those stats. I suppose it depends on where their life needs to go, business, social sciences, law, medicine. I don't think many primary, middle or high schools track those statistics. The job of a high school is to prepare them to enter post secondary education. Once they get in, it's up to the next school (and the student) to continue with that educational success.

I am saying they have nothing to teach us about *ordinary* public schools. The vital 'ingredient' in the successes here is the quality of the students attending.

I agree with you on this. The kids are hand-picked from schools all over to gather the best and brightest students to achieve the greatest of their potential.

So, if you have a child who is very bright, take note of this list. Schools like this will often bend over backwards to get your kid with scholarships and perks. To give your child the best chance to reach their full potential, get them in with other kids as bright as themselves.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 7:28PM
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Brushworks Spectacular Finishes(5)

The very bright require and deserve a school that can meet their needs and challenge them to not only reach their potential, but to exceed it and influence others along the way.

There is a Catholic girls' school near here that graduates nothing but bright students. Yes, they recruit them! But, there's nothing wrong with that when your mission is to produce the brightest girls in America.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 8:24PM
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david52 Zone 6

A lot of very bright students live in situations where selection by some elite public or private school is impossible. So they're stuck with what they get served up down at the local high school.

At the link are this years' awards for science by high schoolers, within are some links to descriptions of their projects. Not worth a new thread, but still pretty cool.

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   May 21, 2012 at 8:37PM
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Our schools we call good schools have better than average student achievement since more students come from mid to higher income two parent households with educated, skilled, knowledgeable caring parents and mentors.

These school districts have far fewer disruptive students, slow learners, special needs students, bullies and far fewer households headed by uneducated, unskilled, poor and low income single parents.

I've paid tuition and transportation costs for some of our relative's kids to attend better schools. Some did better, but not much better because they still live in households headed by low income, uneducated, unskilled, uncaring single parents, many with 4/5/6 plus siblings and/or boyfriend/girlfriend of the month (also poor and uneducated) living in the household.

They also live in poor neighborhoods with many bad influences. Lots of young alcohol drinkers, smokers, pot smokers, thieves, vandals, fathers, mothers, wannabe thugs, latch-key types etc.

It's hard for many of them to study, or do homework in their households with so many distractions, so many occupants and so much noise from loud music, televisions, gaming consoles etc.

We've bought many of them numerous PCs and notebooks, but they're generally damaged, stolen, or sold by their parent, or boyfriend/girlfriend of the month for cigarette/beer/liquor/pot money.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 10:25AM
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.....never went to college, and blame no one but myself. I think you as an individual also have to have that drive and I did not. But what do I know ? :)

The following young man has it.

Here is a link that might be useful: .....and he slept on a bench

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 10:34AM
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This story fails to fulfill its' premise: To showcase good schools *as models* for improving education in other schools.

Meanwhile, taxpayer-built public schools are being privatized -- given away to charter school *businesses*. When these schools must enroll non-selected students (the local across-the-board population), they 'educate' no better than the schools they replaced.

The high school diploma has become a joke. Every employer requires a college degree, although the majority of jobs never require an employee to use a college education.

The Newsweek list is no 'fix' for America's low ranking on the education front.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 10:56AM
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david52 Zone 6

The latest chapter in the downward death spiral of my failing school district was the decision to go back to the 5 day week.

Three years ago, due to lack of funds and the emphasis on retaining a decent teacher-student ratio, they moved to a 4 day week - which meant 30 minutes longer each day, and an extra week at the end of the year to reach the state-mandated number of student-hours. This is nothing new around here, several districts have been doing this for decades.

As my district is so poorly funded, the teachers salaries are in the lower quartile for the state - (starting salary with a Masters degree is $33,000, BA $28,000 gross) But with a 3 day weekend, they generally work the friday anyway grading, tutoring, prep work, and actually get a two day weekend. Several teachers have side jobs - shoeing horses, work part time, so the 4 day week was crucial.

They held a community survey and the results were, overwhelmingly, to keep the 4 day week. But the state, which is on the verge of de-accrediting the high school, 'hinted' that they could hold of the decertification if they went back to the 5 day.

They did so and dozens of teachers just quit. They can easily move to a neighboring district or out of state, and earn 50-70% more.

They're cutting more classes to make up the money they saved by the 4 day week, and now have to find teachers willing to come work here for that kind of money.

But raise taxes to help the district? No way. Everybody knows them teachers are all librul union hippies out after taxpayer money.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 10:56AM
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Many of our school districts are very bad as residents that could afford to move, or cut their losses and run (mid to high income) moved due to high property taxes. When cities lose tax base, they raise tax rates, which in turn causes more good people to move. It's a vicious never-ending cycle.

Eventually some cities end up with a much higher than average number of poor residents, apartment buildings, multi-family housing, slumlords, uneducated residents, disabled residents, renters, unemployable residents, criminals, sex offenders and special needs students, many of which pay little, zero or net negative property taxes, yet take a huge bite out of the property tax levy.

Due to unfunded state mandates like Medicaid, welfare, special education etc, the poorer the region, the higher the tax rate and the higher the per-student educational costs.

In some regions, something like 85% of the tax levy supports unfunded state mandates. That doesn't leave much money for anything else including schools, plus drives residents to neighboring counties, cities, towns and villages with much lower taxes, much better schools and much lower crime and poverty rates.

Many Upstate NY residents also qualify for STAR property tax exemption, so they pay substantially less taxes needed to run the very expensive school systems.

The enhanced or basic STAR exemption is the amount that your assessment will be reduced prior to the levy of school taxes. For example, if you own and live in a house that is assessed at $150,000 and the enhanced STAR exemption for your muncipality is $50,000, the school taxes on your property would be paid on a taxable assessment of $100,000 ($150,000 - $50,000 = $100,000).

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 11:35AM
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david52 Zone 6

My property taxes went down again this past year. For an assessed value of $160,000, I pay $850-something a year, which includes all of the county activities: roads, meals on wheels, the prison, sheriff, then the special districts like the water district, mosquito district, fire district, cemetery, and then the schools.

/down at the other end of the property tax curve, where the concept of 'you get what you pay for' is pretty obvious in the resulting absence.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 11:54AM
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I pay over $8,000 per year in taxes on one of my properties assessed for $150,000. I've raised rents substantially, no longer include heat and hot water and added two more rental units to cover increasing taxes and water/sewer bills.

I also fight my high assessments in court as they never reduce them to anywhere close to actual market value at grievance day.

If I weren't paying my taxes with other people's money, I would have sold many rental and investment properties long ago.

On a positive note, the demand for rentals in areas with good school systems (good parents/students) is so strong that I can literally double rents due to school systems alone.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 12:11PM
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Our magnet schools are by lottery. You do have to have good grades and test scores to get in, but not everyone does. But I remember the days before magnet schools. I ended up in "advanced" classes. Before then, I had to tolerate being leap years ahead and being bored. I remember others being disruptive and that isn't good for the class or the child. So if the answer is not to have magnet schools, I don't agree. However, by nature, magnet schools will have higher scores. It's the nature of the beast. What's wrong with this?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 12:19PM
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We have many parents that own homes in two or more school districts, so they'll use/list the home in the best district as their primary residence so that their kids can attend school in the better districts tuition free.

Many parents live in very nice areas on the outskirts, or within upper class, or wealthy areas of poor cities, but don't want to send their kids to poor city schools, so they'll pay tuition and transportation costs so there kids can attend better schools.

I've had many former tenants that have maintained a PO box, a mail box and/or still listed their former address, or address of a relative in order to keep their kids in other school districts illegally.

Enforcement and investigation of these things are still quite lax in some districts.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 12:32PM
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Our district requires an electric bill with the residence listed and the guardian as the tennant. But it's only checked when one moves from elementary to middle to high school. So once every four years. Very lax! Address doesn't matter once you've entered the magnet system only when one is still in mainstream.

I forgot to say, Our magnet schools cover all kinds of bases. Arts, Science and Math, or Literature. We also have Academies for those who have economic issues.

Example from a website:
"Vision & Mission
_____________'s vision is that one day every student in Nashville will have access to a college preparatory public school seat. We will accomplish this by creating a respected, influential, network of public schools that successfully help students from educationally underserved communities develop the knowledge, skills, character, and habits needed to succeed in college and in the competitive world beyond."

They're helped. By good schools with great goals. Just won't ever be in the top 100 of schools. I think my problem with this thought is, not every school scores well, just like not every student will score well. Special is special. Not only that, scores don't reflect every aspect of what is important.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 1:11PM
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A poorly educated population drags everyone down. If the US is serious about changing that, we need to look at how other first world nations fund education for *everyone*.

I certainly agree that 'gifted' students should have access to good public educations...but so should all who are willing to learn.

I frequently hear a statement from one of the *funding* sources for PBS: "A great nation deserves great art." But not education -- for everyone? Only the children of the rich and a few token poor kids who can 'test in' or 'lottery in'?

Many early immigrants who quickly prospered in America came from one quite poor country that embraced a free public education for the masses: Scotland.

What's happened here? Shortsighted capitalism?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 1:16PM
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Because not every school is in the top 100 the rest are receiving a poor education? I don't understand what you're saying, if this is it.

When all needs are addressed the best they can be--what would you change? Nashville is doing our best, but since we have schools in the top 100 I feel like you think we're neglecting our non-100 schools. We're not. So who is and what would you have them do? My niece just graduated from a "regular" school a couple of counties over. 22 of their children scored 30 or above on ACT. Where you live may judge SAT--this is comparable to about 2250 on SAT. Not the gifted kids. Not a magnet school. Also, they had $3.5M in scholarships for their kids. I cannot even remember the number of presidential and provost scholarships to everywhere, including Harvard. In only a class of about 300 kids.

So non-magnet doesn't mean they lack schooling. At least not here. Pick some place that is lacking and go for it. Tell how it can be better and why? Nashville is poor by national standards, incidentally. It's not a matter of captialism.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 1:29PM
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Our district requires an electric bill with the residence listed and the guardian as the tennant. But it's only checked when one moves from elementary to middle to high school. So once every four years. Very lax!

Many of our schools have closed or merged, or they're currently targeted for closure or merger due to substantial decreases in student enrollment, so they haven't pushed the issue.

Many very highly paid New York teachers will lose their jobs because of this. Many of our schools are grossly overstaffed to begin with due to hiring mandates.

Besides an aging population, we have more and more seasonal residents, residents with 2 or more homes and residents choosing to have zero, or fewer kids which equals substantially lower enrollment.

The only ones that seem concerned are the school systems losing students to other districts.

Some schools offer cheap, or free tuition since they need more students, but transportation is still a major issue.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 1:35PM
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Meanwhile, taxpayer-built public schools are being privatized -- given away to charter school *businesses*. When these schools must enroll non-selected students (the local across-the-board population), they 'educate' no better than the schools they replaced.
What's behind the push for privatization? It certainly doesn't seem to be to improve quality of education.
Many, many of these charter schools are "Christian"

"When the Georgia legislature passed a private school scholarship program in 2008, lawmakers promoted it as a way to give poor children the same education choices as the wealthy.

The program would be supported by donations to nonprofit scholarship groups, and Georgians who contributed would receive dollar-for-dollar tax credits, up to $2,500 a couple. The intent was that money otherwise due to the Georgia treasury about $50 million a year would be used instead to help needy students escape struggling public schools.

That was the idea, at least. But parents meeting at Gwinnett Christian Academy got a completely different story last year.

"A very small percentage of that money will be set aside for a needs-based scholarship fund," Wyatt Bozeman, an administrator at the school near Atlanta, said during an informational session. "The rest of the money will be channeled to the family that raised it."

A handout circulated at the meeting instructed families to donate, qualify for a tax credit and then apply for a scholarship for their own children, many of whom were already attending the school.

"If a student has friends, relatives or even corporations that pay Georgia income tax, all of those people can make a donation to that childs school," added an official with a scholarship group working with the school.

The exchange at Gwinnett Christian Academy, a recording of which was obtained by The New York Times, is just one example of how scholarship programs have been twisted to benefit private schools at the expense of the neediest children.

Spreading at a time of deep cutbacks in public schools, the programs are operating in eight states and represent one of the fastest-growing components of the school choice movement. This school year alone, the programs redirected nearly $350 million that would have gone into public budgets to pay for private school scholarships for 129,000 students, according to the Alliance for School Choice, an advocacy organization. Legislators in at least nine other states are considering the programs.

While the scholarship programs have helped many children whose parents would have to scrimp or work several jobs to send them to private schools, they have also been used to attract star football players, expand the payrolls of the nonprofit scholarship groups and spread the theology of creationism, interviews and documents show. Even some private school parents and administrators have questioned whether the programs are a charade.

Most of the private schools are religious. Nearly a quarter of the participating schools in Georgia require families to make a profession of religious faith, according to their Web sites. Many of those schools adhere to a fundamentalist brand of Christianity. A commonly used sixth-grade science text retells the creation story contained in Genesis, omitting any other explanation. An economics book used in some high schools holds that the Antichrist a world ruler predicted in the New Testament will one day control what is bought and sold.

The programs are insulated from provisions requiring church-state separation because the donations are collected and distributed by the nonprofit scholarship groups. "

Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 1:40PM
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david52 Zone 6

Just another way to loot the commonwealth. Privatize the roads, airports, bridges, schools, do away with the postal service, and for the military? Keep those fake parts from China flowing, and hire all kinds of 'security contractors'.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2012 at 2:05PM
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We only give lip service to caring about American education -- unless you're talking about YOUR school in YOUR town, and then only if YOU have a personal connection to students attending those schools. That's not producing an educated public. It is contributing to the elimination of a middle class. It is producing a public who can't think beyond slogans -- perfect patsies for the next demagogue who talks about improving education.

We cannot be a great nation if we don't care enough about free public education for the masses to FUND IT and MANAGE IT as though we've realized it is vital to our democracy.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 11:03AM
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I think I'm asking for cold hard facts. About which schools are you speaking?

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 11:37AM
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hamiltongardener(CAN 6a)


I don't think anyone is advocating the elimination of public education or funding of public education. Public education INCLUDES magnet schools and those catering to select students. This can include those kids gifted in math and science, or those gifted in the arts, or even kids attending sports academies if that happens to be their gift. Heck, I even believe in having trade schools and business schools if there would be enough enrollment.

But that doesn't mean de-funding or eliminating regular catchment schools either. You CAN have it all, just look at different school systems in different countries. If they can manage it, so can the American school system.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 12:49PM
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rob333 -- The Newsweek article lists the 100 schools they nominate as models for improving all US high schools. Trouble is, the students in their Top 100 are either hand-picked or residents of tax-rich communities.

The problem is that non-tax-rich communities struggle because they are underfunded and neglected and their students come from some of the worst 'home' conditions.

My DIL teaches in an inner-city Chicago school. Our families attended 'top ranked' high schools in wealthy suburbs. There is little 'middle ground', as any 'man on the street' TV interview illustrates (unless the topic is pop stars).

hamiltongardener -- ABsolutley, we should look to how other counties -- some of them quite poor -- fund quality *public* education that outranks ours so completely. Many other countries also educate non-college-bound students. (I'd much rather see more of that and less of this Everybody in College nonsense.)

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 4:11PM
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Personally, I don't care about inequality in funding education. If some rich group of yahoos want to tax themselves to pay for a swimming pool in every school, I don't care.

What I do care deeply about is the quality of education in our poorer performing schools, and whether or not they are adequately funded to provide every child with the possibility of an excellent education. Unfortunately, you can't get an excellent education without participating. :(

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 4:24PM
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hamiltongardener(CAN 6a)

What I do care deeply about is the quality of education in our poorer performing schools,

I don 't live in the US and never went to school there but I want to ask the opinion of people who do live there (call it a hunch)...

Is it really the quality of education that's bad? Or is it that some of these areas are dangerous, causing the kids to not show up. Kids too worried about their safety to be able to concentrate when they do attend. Kids who have home lives that lead them away from their educations.

To me, he quality of the education itself would mean the teachers and the books. In any school, there are good teachers and bad ones. I can't see ALL the teachers in a certain school not teaching the children.

Now the safety of the school or the ability of the kids to attend I would think of as an outside factor. It still determines whether or not the kids can learn, but I don't think of it as part of the "quality of the education".

I also wonder how safe a lot of these teachers feel. It's difficult to teach a class when that kid in the front row and his buddies have threatened to kill you.

Anyway, it doesn't take much money to fund the basics, the teachers, books and supplies, for a good education. But ensuring the kids can fully participate because of those "outside factors" is a heck of a lot harder.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 4:35PM
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rob333 -- The Newsweek article lists the 100 schools they nominate as models for improving all US high schools. Trouble is, the students in their Top 100 are either hand-picked or residents of tax-rich communities.

Your comment is uninformed. For example, the top two performing schools in Tennessee are in inner city neighborhoods. Both are on that very list you cite. Everyone has the right to attend our schools. If they win a spot in the lottery. Drawn just like every other random drawing. And if their grades/test scores are up to par. The receive no more funding than the other schools and neither do the academies receive less funding for the "educationally underserved" (their words!). So not true, especially not the rich part, in Tennessee. Nashville-Davidson County went Metro for this exact reason. Equity! The rich kids here? All go to private schools. I have two which back up to my home in an affluent neighborhood. I rent, so it aint my "true" home. All my coworkers? Their kids go to private schools. Some of them, their kids went through the same top 100 school as my son, but not a lot. Most attend private schools.

Where does it happen? I get it, you're mad as heck and you're not gonna take it any more. Get involved in your community. Search out the inequity. Solve it. But it's not everywhere.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 5:03PM
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rob333 -- No, I don't know about EVERY school on the list, and I'm happy your state has some good ones. Chicago has similar magnet schools.

However, the listed schools in your state and similar ones in Chicago are *selecting* students. A student has to qualify to get into the lottery. This supports my contention that it isn't the *schools* on the list that are doing something wonderful that can be copied by non-selective schools, as Newsweek contends.

It's easy to get 'gold' from 'gold'. It's harder to transform the fifth generation welfare kid in foster care into 'gold', regardless of how intelligent he is. The same is true of immigrant children. Being poor isn't something new in America. The failure to provide good, free, useful education is relatively recent. I agree that this isn't just about *schools*; it's about public will.

What percentage of those applying to these 'better' schools get in? How perfect do you have to be to make the lottery/get in -- or to stay in? Did your son have friends who didn't get in, or who 'just missed' getting that chance? How did they take it?

I am interested in local education -- and I'm talking about it here, too.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 6:07PM
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Brushworks Spectacular Finishes(5)

My property taxes for schools is a bit more than $8,250 per year. I can't imagine paying what David pays and making school budget.

David, are teacher salaries in your area considered low or entry level?

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 7:17PM
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david52 Zone 6

Brush, I looked on the website for the district, the starting salary with a Masters degree is $33,000, BA $28,000 - gross.

There are some districts in the state with the same or lower starting salaries, but not many. While starting salaries are within 15% in the neighboring districts, the advancement with years experience is way higher.

I am surrounded by neighbors who worked at this district for a few years, gained the necessary years experience, and now commute to districts in Colorado, New Mexico, and on the Rez in Arizona, where they easily make half again if not twice as much, with far better benefits. (They all drive by my house at 5 am on their way to work).

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 8:12PM
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Chisue, I wonder what school your DIL teaches at. I attended Austin High on the West Side. It was a wonderful Chicago Public School with a greenhouse, and several different languages were offered, including Chinese and Russian! Then MLK Jr. got assasinated and all hell broke loose--riots with the accompanying tear gas, knifings, muggings, fires, etc.

Soon anarchy reigned in the 'Hood, and everybody who could, moved away.

The school eventually closed but I understand that it has reopened as 3 separate specialized schools. Hopefully, the neighborhood of Austin will undergo a re-birth. It was very sad to go back to the old neighborhood and see what it had become; run-down homes, litter, junked cars, and very scary people. My childhood home a crack house.

Yes, the atmosphere on HT is somewhat rarified. TV shows and statistics don't tell the real human story.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 11:41PM
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We have schools that do work like the magent schools. And address every type of need. Actually, they're not truly magnet until high school. In elementary and middle school, the kids who live in those inner city areas, go to the same schools, no lottery needed. The same test are given to the gifted, bright, and "regular" kids at the elementary/middle schools and those kids receive the same teaching. They ALL score well on those tests. Even the "regular" kids. In the high school magnets, every area is addressed if you are less interested an ordinary mainstream education. Don't doubt that many children are disinterested in anything more than a middle of the road education, much like at University, they're "undeclared" in their major, and want to decide later. Good on them. I can't answer who didn't get into a school they wanted. Every one of his friends got into some school that was at least close to what they wanted. But we have a program that helps out the truly bright and gifted children here and he met them all there. So the birds flocked to the same school. His girl friend didn't go to a magnet, and still receives a good eduation at a regular school and it's where she wanted to go. For their school project, instead of my son's egg drop competition (they're a science and math themed school), they decided to try to break the world record of people in a Thriller video. They had fun doing it and maybe some of these kids will go on to our Arts magnet. Or maybe they will have just had a good time. We just want to keep the kids interested.

So you live in Chicago? What is lagging there?

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 8:51AM
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I'm gratified by many posts here that see the need for better across-the-board education of American children. I mostly see adults whose interest in education is limited to getting the 'right' schools on THEIR kids' resume`s. I suppose those are the readers Newsweek was 'pitching' to. The "Model schools for improving public education" angle was a misleading premise.

elvis -- My DH grew up near Austin. Yes, it was the scene of the Great White Flight that began before MLK. The area has come back to some extent. My DIL's school is at 93rd at the Dan Ryan, where they have to end the day before the local HS's let out the animals, and the bullets start flying. As you may know, Chicago Public School teachers (and police and firemen) must live in the city -- a mandate put in place to prevent further White Flight and retain a tax base.

The pendulum swings. For years a 'standard' public eucation ignored learning-disabled students. Then came the push to serve gifted students. More recently there has been in influx of ESL students. The poor we have always had with us. We are less homogeneous than some of the top-educating nations too.

How can America meet all these needs? I think we must do better to make a 'standard' HS graduate able to contribute to society -- without necessarily going to a college.

My mother attended a rural one-room grammar school with children of illiterate migrant workers and of first-generation immigrant farmers, yet she *learned*. When her family moved, the city HS didn't know where to place this 13-year-old, who had accomplished nearly all of the demands of their curriculum. She received a HS dipolma, took some college courses, lied about her age (16) and went to work for an accounting firm. She was secretary to a VP for some years. After the Depression she helped my father build a large company and later became a top-performing RE broker.

Hundreds of thousands of HS grauates in that era had similar successes. What's happened? Today the accounting firm would not hire my mother without a college degree, and she would have spent half her working life paying back the loans to get that degree.

I can't put all the blame on those doing the hiring, but this devaluation of a HS diploma from a normal, non-magnet public school has to stop. We need an educated, capable middle class more than a nation of PhD's, MD's and MBA's at one end and indebted working poor at the other.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 11:22AM
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Much of our unskilled and low skilled population can't find, or keep jobs since they lack skills, knowledge and education in high demand/high growth fields.

Many with HS diplomas and GEDs are unemployable since they don't have reliable personal transportation, don't have a driver's license and can't pass background checks, drug testing, credit checks, DMV checks, aptitude tests, physical assessments, probationary periods etc.

We see many college, tech school and vocational school graduates that are unemployed, or under-employed as there is little demand for their skill sets.

More and more employers want workers with many years/hours of experience as well.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 11:39AM
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chisue, well stated.
My 3 grandchildren also place high on the end-of-grade tests. What bugs me is when I hear that our "children" place at a mediocre level in international tests regarding science and math.
If it is a matter of money, what is being spent on the dysfunctional F-22's or F-35's (either one) would be enough to bring every child in the US up to their optimal level.
IMHO, we could kill either program, divert the money to education, and call it a win-win.
Unfortunately, that won't happen and we'll keep on re-arranging the deck chairs of the Titanic.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 12:07PM
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When talking about lottery-based charter or specialty schools, you have to realize that by the parents simply going through the steps to apply for the school, a special "class" of student is in the pool. It's saying that those parents are paying enough attention to their child's education, and place enough value in it, to look around for something better.

It would be interesting to see what the results would be if there were a true lottery of every child in the zone. Meaning the parents don't need to step up. So the kid whose parents couldn't care less still has the opportunity to get in.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 12:21PM
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david52 Zone 6

Thats a critical point right there - my daughter just finished up 3 years of a 'Twenty-first Century" program - web-based learning with every kid a lap top, that has been highly successful with all the kids easily passing the state tests. However, to get into the program, the kids had to submit a 500 word essay at the end of 5th grade - about now in the school year, right before the summer break. And so its the families who are 1) aware of the program, 2 ) willing to push their kid to write the essay - that ended up in the program.

That middle school 21-C program is being cut in half now, due to lack of funds.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 12:29PM
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You might want to look at U.S. News & World Report's 'top' high schools. You can apply a filter for 1) Charter Schools, 2) Magnet Schools, 3) Open Enrollment Schools. You can't filter for affluent (tax-rich) schools.

If you look up an individual school you can see the breakdown of the student population, including number of minorities attending and the percentage of students taking advanced placement classes.

This listing tells me much more than the Newsweek list.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2012 at 3:37PM
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