US Public School Education - Pros and Cons

Discussion in 'Education' started by tigerbob, Mar 16, 2008.

  1. tigerbob
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    tigerbob Increasingly jaded.

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    I'll be moving to the US in the next few months. Being a Brit, I've never experinced the US public school system. My wife did, but it was 20 some years ago and she's lived in England for 10 years so her experience is to some extent out of date.

    I have 2 children. A daughter aged 10 and a son who will be 8 soon. We will likely be living in the suburbs in the midwest. I'd be intersted in some views about what I should be looking for as we look at deciding where they should go to school.

    What are the best / worst qualities of public schools in the US? Are there legal limits to the number of teachers per student? Do successful schools place more emphasis on education than others, or is a "well-rounded" education (sports, extra-curricular activities) proven to turn out better rounded kids? How big of an issue is security in schools?

    I recognise of course that this calls for huge generalization, and I will of course be researching it in detail, but this seemed like a decent place to start as opinions on these boards seem to cover a wide range of views.

    Grateful for any insights you can give, and thanks in advance.
     
  2. Annie
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    Annie Diamond Member

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    Once you know where you'll live, you can check out the public schools quite easily by state, county, and district.
     
  3. jillian
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    jillian Princess Supporting Member

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    Welcome to America....

    Public schools in the U.S. can be very uneven. The first think you want to do is google for the school report cards for the various schools in the area. They will tell you the schools' math/english scores and will also tell you the percentage of children eligible for free hot lunch (which will tell you about the poverty level in the school).

    If you're satisfied with the school report card for your local zoned schools, then you can relax a bit, and settle in before worrying about what else is available if you choose.

    Beyond that, you want to look into magnate and gifted programs in your area. A good way to do this will be to go see the local council person or state assembly person in your area. They can give you an idea of what's available to you and maybe have people in constitutent services who can help walk you through the testing/application process relative to each school or point you toward someone else who can.

    Also, here in NY there is a organization that isn't affiliated with the schools which gives a clear assessment of every school in the city.There may be something similar where you're going.

    As you might have guessed, the best is that there are some amazing programs available to kids who can meet challenges and parents who are savvy. They will be given an opportunity to explore the arts as well as academics. The worst is that education can be very uneven, even within the same school district, so it can be a bit of a mine field.
     
  4. BrianH
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    BrianH Senior Member

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    Hey that's great. Welcome.

    There are definately pros and cons when it comes to education.

    It also depends on your preference.

    Where in the midwest are you moving?

    Every state has different rules and regulations when it comes to teacher-student ratio. I think most of them are around 20 students per teacher.

    It really depends on if you're a city person or a country person, or in between.

    Bigger schools lack personability. Sure your kids will have friends, but they will be a number to the school. If you live in a city, you may not have much choice. Your large schools are your big 4A, 5A, and super 5A.

    Medium schools (in my opinion) are the best. (Usually about 400-700 students in the whole school--if it's a high school---Your medium sized schools are your 3A and small 4A schools) Your child will have little more access to opportunity than smaller schools.

    Small schools are usually your really rural areas. Agriculture towns, mining towns, etc...

    States have standardized tests, so make sure that the school your child goes to has a good record when it comes to standardized test results. This means they're good at teaching the kids what they need to know to pass their exams.

    Welcome
     
  5. tigerbob
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    tigerbob Increasingly jaded.

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    Yeah, I know, and I've looked at a few of the websites already.
     
  6. tigerbob
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    tigerbob Increasingly jaded.

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    Good info - thanks. I'll check if there's something similar in Michigan.
     
  7. tigerbob
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    tigerbob Increasingly jaded.

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    Thanks for this. Moving to Michigan, somewhere in the metro Detroit area (my wife comes from there) - not too close to downtown though!. I hear all kinds of horror stories about the local economy, which seems to have changed a lot since I lived there 10 years ago.

    It will be a city school and from what I've seen we are looking at medium size (less than 1,000). 20 per teacher is actually better than the UK, which is good news if that's the case.

    Jillian's provided some useful suggestions about the testing and application process, so we''ll look into that when we visit next month - we're going for 2 weeks to check out the housing market, recce the schools, see the in-laws and, of course, go to a Tigers game.

    We have standardized tests in the UK as well, so it's good to know I'll be on somewhat familiar ground.

    Thanks - much appreciated.
     
  8. jillian
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    jillian Princess Supporting Member

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    Good luck! If you think to, let us know what you find. I've been going through the process for middle school for my little guy. Just don't let it stress you!
     
  9. BrianH
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    BrianH Senior Member

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    That's great...glad to provide some help. good luck!:rofl:
     
  10. William Joyce
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    William Joyce Chemotherapy for PC

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    Real easy. The whiter the area, the better the public schools. The blacker, the worse. I recommend you tour the school. If Tyrone and friends are roaming the halls in their droopers, make a beeline for the door.

    Since you'll be in the suburbs, that's a good start. Only there it's white kids trying to ACT like blacks. Thankfully they never quite pull off a perfect imitation.
     

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