Best high schools in the nation

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by timwinters, May 23, 2020 at 5:47 AM.

  1. timwinters

    timwinters Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That was the title of the article, a misnomer if there ever was one. The article should be titled "Towns where parents care about education".

    one passage:

    Although the highest-ranked schools are scattered throughout the country, sitting atop the coveted list is Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Virginia. The school garnered the title due to its best-in-state performance in English and math assessments, 100 percent graduation rate and its top ranking in college readiness, U.S. News revealed.

    Although Virginia lays claim to the number one spot, roughly 63 percent of high schools in the San Jose, California metro area reside in the top 25 percent of the national rankings. Meanwhile, half of the public high schools in Massachusetts also sit within the top 25 percent of the national rankings, the outlet revealed. However, the top 100 schools on the list span across 29 states, according to the report.

    When I lived in little Marble Hill, MO I was amazed at the disdain for education that many of the adults there carried. A carpenter that I occasionally hired couldn't read or write. He told me one day that his son didn't need to be able to either. "I'm doing just fine without that nonsense, he will too."

    I knew quite a few of the teachers. They were very good at what they did and cared immensely about the kids. But if most parents don't give ****, they'll never succeed and the school's ranking will suffer tremendously.

    In many cases it's not the schools, it's the home environment.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2020 at 9:25 AM
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  2. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That surprises me, San Jose is fairly ghetto overall, although it has its share of upscale burbs too.

    I myself went to a DOD high school overseas.
     
  3. luvflyin

    luvflyin Final Approach

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    Which is usually a result of the environment in which the home is located. It's about $$$
     
  4. timwinters

    timwinters Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Interesting, I guess I missed that part when I was out there once or twice a month from 2001 to 2004 when I had to come out to the FedEx Freight "West" office in San Jose. Not saying I don't believe you, I just didn't run into it. I loved that area, had a blast almost every trip, and better yet, on the company's dime!

    OTOH that's been over 15 years ago so the complexion may have very well changed significantly since.
     
  5. pdonahue

    pdonahue Pre-Flight

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    "San Jose, California metro area" = Silicon Valley
     
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  6. MuseChaser

    MuseChaser Cleared for Takeoff

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    As a life-long public school teacher now retired from that gig, I agree. A truly great teacher coupled with a good student determined to rise from a bad situation can often succeed, and a truly exceptional student can succeed even with a bad home environment and the thankfully very rare poor teacher, while an unmotivated student determined to battle those who try and help him or her will sadly usually not succeed regardless of the efforts of the teachers. There are always exceptions, but yes, in general the best schools are the "best schools" because of the home environment of the people attending those schools.
     
  7. FORANE

    FORANE Pattern Altitude

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    Oak Ridge TN has been cited as having the highest number of PhD's per capita of any city due to the labs there. I have heard they have good schools as a result of that. I even know a family that moved there and stated the reason was for their schools.
     
  8. YooperMooney

    YooperMooney Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Oak Ridge National Laboratory is there which explains the Ph.D. count. Lots of Russian-spy infiltration issues. You’d be surprised how many Russians are/were married to ORNL employees that they met while on an “exchange” program during the Cold War. They were 10/10 beauties who acted as interpreters and seemed to cozy up to the lonely Yankee nerds. The optics just look terrible.
     
  9. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    My daughter is a HS teacher in a very small, very rural district. Yesterday she showed me an email from one of her students, and said, “This is why I became a teacher.”

    It was a “thank you” letter, along with understanding and appreciation for the circumstances they all had to work through, and how he’s looking forward to his summer job at the dairy. I read it and thought, “There’s no way a high schooler could have written something like this.” But I came to realize that kid is more of an adult now than I was for years.

    $$$ doesn’t always figure in to good schools, although it helps. Rich neighborhoods have drug problems and kids that don’t care because they never had to work for anything. Parents that care about the value of an education and that instill a good work ethic make a huge difference, even in places that would be considered poor.

    My daughter enjoyed working with a group of kids that were in an “at risk” program. They were extremely self motivated, though. They knew they weren’t going to get As, but were busting their asses to pass. It was the only chance they had to get that HS diploma and a way out of their current lives. Couch surfing because your dad’s in jail and your mom’s on drugs, or your mom’s boyfriend beats you, ... or worse, can be a great motivation and these kids were hitting it hard to get out and into a trade school or anything that would get them a new life. Contrast those kids with the $$$ school kids that just didn’t care, and she would rather have the former.
     
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  10. luvflyin

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    Yeah. My wife was a high school teacher at a school that had a Sheriff whose beat was the school. There all day. And a Parole Officer who had an office on campus. Nuff said about the community. She marveled at the resiliency of some of the kids. They would share with her life at home and in the hood sometimes. There were success stories. But on the whole, in the big picture, nation wide, affluence makes a difference.
     
  11. Larry in TN

    Larry in TN Cleared for Takeoff

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    It's not the Thomas C. Smith high school?
     
  12. tspear

    tspear Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    A while back I figured out when looking for real estate. "nice" areas are easy to find. Look at the schools. So, when looking for my latest place to live a five years ago, I started with school rankings. Then drove by the schools. I have found extremely well maintained schools in poor neighborhoods, the building might be old, but the community cares and it shows. And cesspits in very nice places. Although the exceptions, they really are good predictors of what the area will be in ten to twenty years. So far for me, this generalization holds up pretty well.

    Tim
     
  13. Cap'n Jack

    Cap'n Jack Final Approach

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    I also have been in the area several times (past 3 years) and I didn't see it either. But I've only been in the area the small pharmaceutical/biotech companies are located, nearer the Sunnyvale/Mountain view areas. I've no doubt there are bad areas, I guess I just have no need to get to those areas. Berkeley near Ashby Avenue seemed less well off.
     
  14. Eldorado

    Eldorado Pre-Flight

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    Interesting topic with way too many variables. My nephew works at a large school system. Wanted to do a study to see how teacher absences affected students performance. Guess what? Nobody but Nobody was going to allow such a study. The point is, you can’t even do studies to evaluate the difference variables without inciting outrage from students, teachers, or administrators. Let me see the amount of sick leave a schools teachers take, and I think it will tell me something about the teacher, principal and students. Did I mention discipline? My dad was an educator and his favorite saying was “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink, but I can sure keep him from disturbing the other horses trying to drink”. I don’t know how to evaluate a school, but the problem is, I don’t think anybody else wants to even try other than to say “we need more money“.
     
  15. hindsight2020

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    Plenty to explore in this topic, but this forum is not particularly suited for the exploration of the socioeconomic nuances and second-tier effects of American self-segregation behavior. I would recommend the book from Richard Reeves on the topic, but that'd be a bit like farting in church in this echo chamber. So I'll digress.

    Oh, and ITBL :D
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2020 at 4:46 PM
  16. Sac Arrow

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    I have both a company office in San Jose and relatives there. The office is in a nice place. The downtown area proper is nice. The outskirts of downtown is pretty sketchy and that is where the relatives are. It's not as bad as Oakland in that there aren't places where people like you and I just don't go, period, but it's rough.
     
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  17. Cap'n Jack

    Cap'n Jack Final Approach

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    I understand. I'm lucky in that I get to experience all the nice things about California, and (almost) none of the bad things, though the "bad things" can probably happen anywhere. The bad thing was driving to Santa Cruz from KSFO. I went down Route 1 instead of 101->85->17 . I stopped to take a leak at one of the beach bathrooms, someone broke the car window and got my clothes, but left my tools and a GPS on the dash. It was a smash and grab. The biggest pains, after clothes, were my chargers were also in that case, and the return trip to KSFO for another car.
     
  18. atbroome

    atbroome Pre-takeoff checklist

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    One of the reasons we decided to move here was to give my son a chance at TJ admission. Looking kinda iffy he will make it but the rest of the district is good too :D
     
  19. NHWannabe

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    Actually it has more to do with culture...many poor immigrants came out of NYC Public Schools and NYC Public Colleges.
     
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  20. Ghery

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    I've been out of the high school market for a number of years. No complaints about the ones our kids went to. I spent a semester at Newton HS in Newton, MA back in 1969. They claimed at the time that they were one of the 10 top high schools in the country. Really? If they were then the one I went to for the other 3 1/2 years (Pullman HS) was one of the top 5. We had an outstanding faculty looking back at it, but given that Pullman is a college town (Washington State University - Go Cougs!!!) that was and is to be expected. School levies pass without question. We'll see about the high school in Centralia, WA this coming year as our oldest grandchild starts there in the fall. It's almost as close to their house as the elementary school our kids went to was to our house in San Jose back in the 1980s.
     
  21. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I'd guess that parent involvement and support at home makes more difference than what school you attend. If the parents show excitement and dedication regarding school their children will likely do well in school, on average. There are always incidences where students from poor home environments buck the odds and succeed, but it's probably more exception than the rule. Even the greatest teachers will find it difficult if not impossible to engage with students who come from families that place no importance on education.

    It also shouldn't be a secret that schools located in more affluent areas will tend to have higher academic performance, since most affluent people have some amount of higher education and will be more likely to show enthusiasm for school to their children
     
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  22. timwinters

    timwinters Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I have always thought that it is BS that school funding is based on a local tax levy. That's yet another form of inequality in our country. A statewide fund that is divvied out on a per capita basis regardless of the local socioeconomic status would allow for far more equity. Still not perfect, as some states are far more affluent than others, but better than drilling it down to a local level.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2020 at 5:45 AM
  23. Eric Brunelle

    Eric Brunelle Pre-Flight

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    My third career for the past twenty years has been teaching, the last 11 in an urban high school of 4500 students from over 50 nationalities. There are many challenges, but my faith in the goodness of my students and their parents has made these last 11 years the most fulfilling. Many immigrants, and like my immigrant ancestors, they are the hardest working and most motivated. Funding is always an issue. My classroom time with my students is always the best part of my day, and I try to make connections to their lives and interests beyond the subject matter - what do they care about, what are their interests. Teaching can be very difficult if your motivation is a paycheck and short hours. There is a high turnover rate in teaching because of this. Like 99% of teachers, I work many more hours than I am paid for - because I want to and enjoy it. Not enjoying these last 10 weeks.

    My .02
     
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  24. YooperMooney

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    That’s how my state does it; Michigan contributes to the per-pupil foundation allowance based on the contribution ability of the district. “Proposal A” back in the 90’s did a decent job flattening the disparity.
    It’s definitely not perfect; the worst funding per-pupil is found in rural districts far away from Detroit or Lansing. My wife’s salary as a 15-year teacher is barely $50k/yr up here in the middle no where. If she taught in the City of Detroit or the suburb I grew up in it would be double that.
    Even though it’s evident that dumping cash into schools does not guarantee positive outcomes, we need some sort of adequate baseline. Last I heard, Detroit Public Schools kids receive 50% more funding per pupil on average.
    It’s a bad time right now to be a low-level public servant. My wife’s small district will be laying off teachers by June I believe if a bunch don’t take a buyout.
    I’ve always been lobbying for some of the districts in the Upper Peninsula to dissolve. The smart ones consolidated many years ago. Yet we still have these dying mining towns that somehow have managed to stay afloat with their $130k/yr Superintendents overseeing a K-12 located in a small 120-yr old building.
    The Wuhan Flu is certainly going to change things. That is something to consider when picking a primary school anywhere.
     
  25. cgrab

    cgrab Pattern Altitude

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    At a high school ceremony to honor my son as Scholar Athlete of the Year, the Principal asked me what I did to support him and I told him my philosophy of education boiled down to the seven words to a smarter kid: "What did you learn in school today?" In addition to the child getting one more repetition (the lesson, the homework and the homework review) of the subject, it also makes him/her state the lesson in their own words. It also helps that I had a pretty good memory and could converse on the various subjects he was taking.

    After I explained it to him he had me get on stage and explain it to assembly.
     
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  26. tspear

    tspear Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Then you have massive funding problems between urban, suburban and rural. The costs are very different.
    If you completely centralize at the state level, e.g. Texas if memory servers, you also end up with massive overhead, limited accountability and likely corruption (book contracts).
    Local has problems, but less than many other solutions.

    Tim
     
  27. kyleb

    kyleb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Thing is, it costs very little to build/run a school in rural areas. The cost of land is lower, the cost of building things is lower, the cost of hiring people is lower. There's probably less bureaucracy too. It costs a lot to run a school in Atlanta. Expensive everything and there is enough money involved involved, it draws in crooked people who work very hard to get their snouts in the trough. Not so much in rural Georgia. Everything is relatively inexpensive, and there isn't a lot of money or a vast bureaucracy to siphon off money (legally or illegally).

    So, be careful what you ask for.
     
  28. YooperMooney

    YooperMooney Pre-takeoff checklist

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    If a team of MBA’s were given full power to ransack districts I guarantee you’d see significant consolidation and significant cost efficiency. There is so much money ****ed away with upper management in both large and small districts in Michigan. Each of these micro-districts has a full panel of Superintendents, Assistant Superintendents, Principals, Assistant Principals, etc. Don’t even get me started on college & university administrations...
    Same goes for Fire and Police departments in metropolitan areas. I’ve always like the County Fire and County Police models as the overall costs can be substantially cheaper IF and ONLY IF they have good oversight. Otherwise you’re right back to square one.
     
  29. kyleb

    kyleb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    It i all three. ;-) School. Home environment. Peer group. Get any of 'em wrong and it becomes very difficult to get the result you're after.
     
  30. Matthew

    Matthew Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It’s been going on for a number of years now, but it’s finally out of the news: the KS legislature and the KS Supreme Court have been fighting it out over school funding.

    Local districts have an advantage: local solutions for local problems. But usually solutions to problems cost money, and some districts don’t have it.

    Our state constitution says (paraphrasing), the Legislature must adequately fund schools. There is no definition of “adequate”. The Court would say “That’s not good enough.” The Legislature would ask, “What IS good enough?” The Court would say, “We’ll know it when we see it.”

    The State was funding schools to a certain level, then letting local districts supplement that by whatever means they could come up with. It’s nice when you can get a local company to donate equipment for a new computer lab, for example.

    Poorer districts would say, “If a district thinks that is what “adequate” means, then we need more. Or, you need to subtract that supplemental support from the State support to those schools.”

    If the State started giving poorer districts more money, the rich districts would then say, “If the State thinks that’s “adequate”, then we need that same addition cash.”

    I sort of stopped paying attention to the fight a couple years ago, so I don’t know where it all stands now.
     
  31. Eldorado

    Eldorado Pre-Flight

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    States where the population is mostly in large cities usually favor larger school systems getting more dollars per pupil. Those states with most of the population in smaller towns usually fund the smaller districts with more dollars per pupil. Most all states take the money from the districts, and then gives it back per their discretion(Robin Hood).
    Wall Street had an editorial today, basically saying it’s not a rich vs poor problem, but two birth parents(think Poor Asian neighborhoods) as doing by far the best. Surprisingly kids raided by grandparent were the worse. Divorced parents raising their children alone did better than divorced parents that remarried. The study was done when the students were in their sophomore year of high school(parental status determined) and ended 10 yrs later to see if child had graduated or not from college. The privileged students were not rich or poor, but two biological parents at age 16. These kids blew away the other families, regardless of wealth, educational status,etc.
     
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  32. MauleSkinner

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    So success was predicated on education for education’s sake.
     
  33. Geosync

    Geosync Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I’m a California kid, half public half Catholic lower schools(I’m not Catholic), then public state university. My wife is an a New England 100% Catholic school kid. Her sister went to Groton School which is pretty elite. My parents in laws are immigrants from African and England.

    The huge gulf between West Coast public and East Coast private is shocking. For my wife, the thought of $800 per semester tuition(in the early 2000s) and 30 k student body is unbelievable. And for me, elite boarding schools with president alumnus and leaders of industry is unbelievable.

    After mingling in Ivy League circles through my wife(went on to Ivy League, same school as her sis) I can say that there is but one advantage of the elite private route. That is connections. I’d say 70% are blue blood multi generation Ivy League, so they’re connected, made men/women. The other 30% are regular people who are now plugged into the upper echelons.

    These elite class are by and large “regular” in the sense that they aren’t complete c^*ksuckers, but they exist in a higher plain, that is, privilege(the rest are the complete d$Uchebags you think the are). Summer homes on the lake, family trips to the South of France. Family names on buildings at campus. Me being a person of color from middle class is was shocking. But after a while I realized the only advantage is connections. That’s it. And when it comes down to work ethic, a more pedestrian school experience blows them away by FAR. But again, they don’t need it, because the can just pick up the phone and call Uncle Joe the CEO of XYZ and get them a high powered job tomorrow.
     
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  34. 3393RP

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    The "Robin Hood" law in Texas has resulted in a uniformity of mediocrity. Our school district (Plano ISD) sends over $200 million to the state every year, and as a result the district can't afford a small increase in teacher salaries.

    This article explains the issue quite well.

    https://www.wfaa.com/mobile/article/news/is-robin-hood-school-funding-broken/287-626218934
     
  35. Shawn

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    Although not an educator, I have had the opportunity to work at numerous schools over the past few decades from run of the mill public schools to as high end where the billionaires kids go private schools.

    Just a non scientific observation but the schools that had the most successful students were without a doubt the schools with the most involved parent engagement vs dumping them off for a day of babysitting regardless of socioeconomic status. I have seen a charter school in depressed part of Oakland that would blow the pants off a private school in Palo Alto in terms of educational success...but the parent involvement was always the determining factor by far.
     
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  36. jimhorner

    jimhorner Line Up and Wait

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    I completely agree with the importance of asking this question and of expecting a real and considered answer to it. My son quickly learned that I expected him to give me more than a pro forma answer to the question. One day, when he was in second grade, and I was picking him up, I asked him what he had learned that day. His young and relatively new teacher was standing right behind him as he answered “Nothing.” The look on her face was priceless; private school, so teachers’ jobs depended on parents being satisfied. Okay then, time to slightly modify the question: “Really? you learned nothing today? Okay, did Ms, Jeshri teach nothing today?” That got a better answer, and I next probed why, if she had taught so much new material that day, he learned nothing. Was he not paying attention? Was he not able to understand what she had taught? Did he forget things so quickly? The extra homework she and I agreed to for the next couple of weeks taught him to actually think before answering that 7 word question going forward. He never again gave me an answer of “Nothing”.

    I still ask the question sometimes. Of course, now, when I ask the question, my eyes sometimes glaze over a bit... He’s working on a mechanical engineering degree, and I’m an electrical engineer. That thermo and fluid flow stuff just never made any sense to me... Entropy, Enthalpy, Steam tables, yuck! I can still help him with his Electrical Engineering courses he’s taking for his minor, but the mechE stuff — No way.
     
  37. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down

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    How very “dedicated to education”. LOL.