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Old 05-05-2011, 07:12 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly DC and Phila
8,555 posts, read 12,619,006 times
Reputation: 8315

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I don't see where anyone was ragging on teachers. And I don't think anyone can deny the obstacles that teachers face such as large class size, non-English speaking students, low-income students, etc.

I started this thread because my husband's job may be relocated and any other board I visit seems to people who say the same thing that people in FCPS say, "we have one of the best school systems in the country or state." I see it in the New York boards, the Philadelphia board, the Chapel Hill board, etc. I've even seen it on the Montanta (or was it Wyoming?) board. And I haven't visited probably 40 of the others states' boards, so I'm sure the same touting is going on in the Boston boards, Texas boards, Utah boards, etc. So, it got me thinking, "Are our schools really so much better? And if so why?

I also often see the comment, "All FCPS schools are good. So even if it's not a "top" school in the district, it is probably still better than most schools in the rest of the county." I don't necessarily agree with that comment and wanted to explore it further. I don't think this is a put-down on teachers - there are good and bad ones - just like there are good and bad lawyers, doctors, and accountants. Heck, I even aspired to be a teacher myself.

And frankly, even if it is Public Service Recognition Week, I don't think that should inhibit what we discuss on this board at what time. On a personal note, I baked something for my daughters' teachers this week, contributed a dozen homemade muffins to the school breakfast they are having for the teachers, and I helped out for two hours at the school this week like I do every week - cutting and pasting and photocopying - to give teachers a break. Having a practical and philosophical discussion of the merits of FCPS does not mean I do not appreciate my child's teachers or others.

Quote:
Originally Posted by saganista View Post
Here we are in the midst of Public Service Recognition Week, and all some folks can do is rag on teachers and a school system that educates a highly diverse population of more than 190,000 students to some of the highest standards in the nation. Bunch of ingrates.

Instead, I'd like to extend a sincere word of thanks to all who work in FCPS on behalf of our kids. Hard work, long hours, and low pay are your lot, with little in the way of appreciation for it shown by the general public, particularly that segment of it most susceptible to the slanders manufactured by dishonest political interests. Thank you, teachers, et al., for your service to our kids, to our county, and to our country. Your sacrifices are recognized and appreciated by at least some.

Last edited by michgc; 05-05-2011 at 07:54 PM..

 
Old 05-05-2011, 07:56 PM
 
5,071 posts, read 8,616,501 times
Reputation: 2722
Quote:
Originally Posted by saganista View Post
Here we are in the midst of Public Service Recognition Week, and all some folks can do is rag on teachers and a school system that educates a highly diverse population of more than 190,000 students to some of the highest standards in the nation. Bunch of ingrates.

Instead, I'd like to extend a sincere word of thanks to all who work in FCPS on behalf of our kids. Hard work, long hours, and low pay are your lot, with little in the way of appreciation for it shown by the general public, particularly that segment of it most susceptible to the slanders manufactured by dishonest political interests. Thank you, teachers, et al., for your service to our kids, to our county, and to our country. Your sacrifices are recognized and appreciated by at least some.
This comment was kind of like Boy's Life, you know, where you decide to be Gallant and everyone else is Goofus. Except Gallant didn't actually go around telling everyone else they were Goofuses.

I don't think people were going out of their way to rag on teachers. They deserve our respect and support, but not necessarily our reverence. And it's certainly a fair question to ask whether FCPS schools really are some of the best in the nation, or whether those of us who live in Fairfax are to some degree collectively patting ourselves on the back when we make the assertion. It's particularly pertinent when someone is trying to assess whether they'd be giving up something substantial if they moved to a different part of the country.

I'm a product of FCPS and a parent of students in that system, and I'd be very comfortable saying it's one of the top large school systems in the country. However, I would certainly allow for the possibility that there are many smaller school systems that do every bit as good a job of educating their students, but get less publicity because they are considerably smaller and don't have an attention-grabbing magnet such as TJHSST to tout.

One of the unfortunate consequences of the changes in the DC area and, perhaps, society more generally over the past 25-35 years is that teachers are now often priced out of homes in the expensive areas where they teach. Many of my teachers years ago lived in the local community and sent their own kids to FCPS. Now, many of my kids' teachers live much further away, have to work multiple jobs to get by and, in a few unsettling cases, wear their fatigue and resentment on their sleeves fairly openly. I probably am asking to be carbon-dated by saying this, but I do miss the days when there were fewer fancy imports on the local roads, yet one or two teachers' salaries were enough to sustain a family throughout NoVa.

Last edited by JD984; 05-05-2011 at 08:14 PM..
 
Old 05-05-2011, 08:03 PM
 
1,403 posts, read 1,847,932 times
Reputation: 451
Quote:
Originally Posted by saganista View Post
particularly that segment of it most susceptible to the slanders manufactured by dishonest political interests.
Although I tend to be philosophically tranditionalist, I get suspicious whenever people of any political stripe ascribe dark, dishonest and slanderous motives to their political opponents.

Is there political hyperbole in criticism of the public sector unions? Absolutely. But that does not mean there is no legitimate substance to the critiques and that they are all just political manipulations.
 
Old 05-05-2011, 08:07 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, NC, formerly DC and Phila
8,555 posts, read 12,619,006 times
Reputation: 8315
That was Highlights magazine! I remember it, too. That was my second favorite thing to read in Highlights. My favorite was looking for the hidden objects in the pictures.

ETA: Goofus and Gallant have been updated. And they are online! And they have friends with "ethnic" names! It's not the same Goofus and Gallant from 1975. http://www.highlightskids.com/Stories/GnG3/h1intro.asp

Quote:
Originally Posted by JEB77 View Post
This comment was kind of like Boy's Life, you know, where you decide to be Gallant and everyone else is Goofus. Except Gallant didn't actually go around telling everyone else they were Goofuses.

Last edited by michgc; 05-05-2011 at 08:18 PM..
 
Old 05-05-2011, 09:56 PM
 
Location: South South Jersey
1,652 posts, read 3,400,983 times
Reputation: 734
Quote:
Originally Posted by michgc View Post
That was Highlights magazine! I remember it, too. That was my second favorite thing to read in Highlights. My favorite was looking for the hidden objects in the pictures.

ETA: Goofus and Gallant have been updated. And they are online! And they have friends with "ethnic" names! It's not the same Goofus and Gallant from 1975. Goofus and Gallant Story Adventure: HighlightsKids.com
When I was a kid, it seemed to me that while I always did my best to *act* like Gallant, I invariably ended up experiencing Goofus's misfortunes anyway.
 
Old 05-05-2011, 10:15 PM
 
1,403 posts, read 1,847,932 times
Reputation: 451
I had no magazines for kids where I grew up. So I don't get the reference.

When I first came to this country and walked into a book store, I was shocked, just shocked that there were not only magazines about dogs (or about cars, guns, swimsuits, what have you) but that there were several different ones for each category. I thought, wow, Americans must lead exciting lives filled with all these diverse hobbies and interests.

I vowed there and then I would never live elsewhere.

So now I spend my spare time typing posts for an Internet forum on my iPad instead of leading an exciting life filled with diverse hobbies and interests.
 
Old 05-06-2011, 05:55 AM
 
19,183 posts, read 28,320,304 times
Reputation: 4002
Quote:
Originally Posted by michgc View Post
I don't see where anyone was ragging on teachers.
Re-read the first page. Seven out of nine responses to the OP are overtly negative, trashing in the process all of FCPS teachers, its curriculum, and its administration. Things haven't improved much since. We have school systems here that are so good that our major state universities have to put caps on the number of students they admit from the region in order that some kids from the rest of the state can get in at all, and yet people want to carp about what we have here. There is something wrong with this picture.

Quote:
Originally Posted by michgc View Post
And I don't think anyone can deny the obstacles that teachers face such as large class size, non-English speaking students, low-income students, etc.
Obstacles that get overcome here to a degree not often seen where they are elsewhere encountered. There are no reliable independent rating systems for US high schools, but it is still true that in Newsweek magazine's annual effort at such ratings for 2010, 11 of the nation's top 250 public high schools were FCPS schools. That puts them in roughly the top 1% of all US high schools. Which other school systems can boast of a comparable record?

Quote:
Originally Posted by michgc View Post
I started this thread because my husband's job may be relocated and any other board I visit seems to people who say the same thing that people in FCPS say, "we have one of the best school systems in the country or state." I see it in the New York boards, the Philadelphia board, the Chapel Hill board, etc. I've even seen it on the Montanta (or was it Wyoming?) board. And I haven't visited probably 40 of the others states' boards, so I'm sure the same touting is going on in the Boston boards, Texas boards, Utah boards, etc. So, it got me thinking, "Are our schools really so much better? And if so why?
Home-team bias. That will be found everywhere. You would not have to look far either to find folks decrying Congress as a whole but opining that their own Representative was actually pretty good. The difference is that FCPS puts the goods on the table. Talk to college admissions people. A major school will see and rank thousands of applications every year. FCPS (and other NoVa systems) will come up quite early is any discussion of where their top applicants are typically coming from these days.

Quote:
Originally Posted by michgc View Post
I also often see the comment, "All FCPS schools are good. So even if it's not a "top" school in the district, it is probably still better than most schools in the rest of the county." I don't necessarily agree with that comment and wanted to explore it further. I don't think this is a put-down on teachers - there are good and bad ones - just like there are good and bad lawyers, doctors, and accountants. Heck, I even aspired to be a teacher myself.
The second point perhaps explains the first. People spend an inordinate amount of time trying to evaluate a particular local school, when the variability within local schools is likely to be greater than between them. The FCPS system as a whole is very strong by national standards, but the teachers and administrators involved at any particular school can and will vary. A great high school can suddenly be stuck with a Principal not up to the task. The same school can have one terrific second-grade teacher right alongside another who might serve society better from behind a cash register over at Macy's. The best schools and school systems all deal with this phenomenon. It remains true however that all 22 FCPS high schools are in the top 10% according to the 2010 Newsweek rankings, and 21 of them are in the top 5%. That's a fairly reasonable start point for a notion that the system as a whole must be pretty darned good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by michgc View Post
And frankly, even if it is Public Service Recognition Week, I don't think that should inhibit what we discuss on this board at what time.
Quite so, it shouldn't and clearly doesn't. Then again, it might be considered at least somewhat intemperate to bring up the matter of military atrocities on Memorial Day or Veterans Day. I suspect that a sizable majority here was not so much as aware of the existence of Public Service Recognition Week, much less that we were currently celebrating it. There is perhaps some lesson in the irony of that?
 
Old 05-06-2011, 06:22 AM
 
Location: Maine
2,010 posts, read 2,701,100 times
Reputation: 2752
Quote:
Originally Posted by saganista View Post
Here we are in the midst of Public Service Recognition Week, and all some folks can do is rag on teachers and a school system that educates a highly diverse population of more than 190,000 students to some of the highest standards in the nation. Bunch of ingrates.

Instead, I'd like to extend a sincere word of thanks to all who work in FCPS on behalf of our kids. Hard work, long hours, and low pay are your lot, with little in the way of appreciation for it shown by the general public, particularly that segment of it most susceptible to the slanders manufactured by dishonest political interests. Thank you, teachers, et al., for your service to our kids, to our county, and to our country. Your sacrifices are recognized and appreciated by at least some.

This sanctimonious comment is classic--especially coming from someone who claims ACORN is a legitimate, honest political organization.

Michgc's original question was in no way attacking or being unappreciative of the teaching profession. It was meant to look past the complacent mindset of "FCPS schools are the best--don't question anything," which to me is detrimental to maintaining the quality of an education system. When I joined city-data, such questioning of anything about Fairfax County was venomously slammed by Sag and others. I'm glad michgc was willing to ask such a question, especially considering the manner in which the FCPS school board is doing business these days.
 
Old 05-06-2011, 07:18 AM
 
5,071 posts, read 8,616,501 times
Reputation: 2722
Quote:
Originally Posted by IndiaLimaDelta View Post
I had no magazines for kids where I grew up. So I don't get the reference.

When I first came to this country and walked into a book store, I was shocked, just shocked that there were not only magazines about dogs (or about cars, guns, swimsuits, what have you) but that there were several different ones for each category. I thought, wow, Americans must lead exciting lives filled with all these diverse hobbies and interests.

I vowed there and then I would never live elsewhere.

So now I spend my spare time typing posts for an Internet forum on my iPad instead of leading an exciting life filled with diverse hobbies and interests.
Michgc was kind enough to provide a link to the current version of "Goofus and Gallant" and note that it appears in Highlights (a children's magazine), not Boy's Life:

Goofus and Gallant Story Adventure: HighlightsKids.com

"Goofus and Gallant" is intended to illustrate for young readers or, perhaps one should say, brow-beat them into understanding the differences between good and bad behavior. Gallant was, in the vernacular, a "goody two-shoes," while Goofus was the James Dean of the playground set. One could more or less be a budding Gallant in real life, and nevertheless find him the type of kid you'd want to trip at recess, so consistently laudable were his responses to every situation. On the other hand, Goofus had issues, and probably didn't even take Algebra in 8th grade, but at least he followed his instincts.

It does not take a tremendous amount of imagination to believe that Gallant grew up to be a Washington lobbyist advocating 24/7 for the NEA, while Goofus grew up to be a Navy Seal.

In any event, if FCPS schools are so great that we produce tons of graduates who can't get into Virginia universities, even though they are qualified, because the state has to set aside spaces for less qualified students from other parts of the state, there's a bigger problem that perhaps ought to take precedence over how many polished apples were placed on desks this week (though, yes, our family also delivered goodies to two schools).

Last edited by JD984; 05-06-2011 at 07:26 AM..
 
Old 05-06-2011, 08:10 AM
 
19,183 posts, read 28,320,304 times
Reputation: 4002
Quote:
Originally Posted by JEB77 View Post
This comment was kind of like Boy's Life, you know, where you decide to be Gallant and everyone else is Goofus. Except Gallant didn't actually go around telling everyone else they were Goofuses.
Call it a counterpoint to knee-jerk criticism based on nothing more than the slop propagated by elements of what passes these days for "the media".

Quote:
Originally Posted by JEB77 View Post
I don't think people were going out of their way to rag on teachers. They deserve our respect and support, but not necessarily our reverence.
They are apparently oh-for-three in various quarters.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JEB77 View Post
And it's certainly a fair question to ask whether FCPS schools really are some of the best in the nation, or whether those of us who live in Fairfax are to some degree collectively patting ourselves on the back when we make the assertion. It's particularly pertinent when someone is trying to assess whether they'd be giving up something substantial if they moved to a different part of the country.
Not meaning to impugn the question. It's some of the answers that don't deserve much consideration. Anecdotal observations and over-the-back-fence gossip and propaganda don't make for very good evidence. We have strong school systems in NoVa, systems that consistently earn national praise and recognition. There are other such high quality school systems to be found in many other parts of the country. But if you relied on dart-throwing to determine Point-B in your next move, you would on average be taking a sizable step down by leaving the area.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JEB77 View Post
I'm a product of FCPS and a parent of students in that system, and I'd be very comfortable saying it's one of the top large school systems in the country. However, I would certainly allow for the possibility that there are many smaller school systems that do every bit as good a job of educating their students, but get less publicity because they are considerably smaller and don't have an attention-grabbing magnet such as TJHSST to tout.
TJ is normally excluded from school rankings as it is a selective regional school, not the typical local public school that one can simply enroll in once residing within its district. There are meanwhile many high quality town and city school systems in the country that do not in fact get the publicity that comes to FCPS on account of its size (12th largest in the US). Noting that FCPS does an excellent job does not demean any of their accomplishments.

And while we are on the sunject, FCPS etc. are as large as they are principally because county government is the lowest level of government that exists for a signficant portion of the area. We do not have the wall-to-wall incorporation of towns and cities that various other metropolitan areas do. There is not a McLean public school system because there is no government of McLean, and hence no taxing authority that could ultimately pay for a local school system. Public schooling there and in so many other "Census-designated places" is a county-level responsibility by default.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JEB77 View Post
One of the unfortunate consequences of the changes in the DC area and, perhaps, society more generally over the past 25-35 years is that teachers are now often priced out of homes in the expensive areas where they teach. Many of my teachers years ago lived in the local community and sent their own kids to FCPS. Now, many of my kids' teachers live much further away, have to work multiple jobs to get by and, in a few unsettling cases, wear their fatigue and resentment on their sleeves fairly openly.
Let's review. It was not so long ago that you could not have found a person who would disagree with the notion that public school teachers were underpaid, particularly in view of their actual contributions to society. Year after year, politicians campaigned on planks of finding ways to increase teacher pay so as to adequately reward and attract the sort of talent we want to have in our children's classrooms. That never actually happened of course, but add one economic downturn and some blatant political opportunism and suddenly teachers (and public employees in general, it seems) are a bunch of pampered, mollycoddled slouches whose salaries and benefits need to be not just cut, but slashed. The degree and certification credentials necessary in order to be a teacher haven't changed. Continuing education is still a major requirement, not an "opportunity". Pay and hiring freezes, large amounts of unpaid overtime, and out-of-pocket expenses for classroom materials remain the norm in nearly every teacher's world. But now they have somehow become the bad guys to many. Go figure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JEB77 View Post
I probably am asking to be carbon-dated by saying this, but I do miss the days when there were fewer fancy imports on the local roads, yet one or two teachers' salaries were enough to sustain a family throughout NoVa.
And the fancy import drivers would still be driving their fancy imports even after teacher salaries were increased. The actually wealthy have seen their incomes rise quite significantly over the past decade even as their taxes paid per dollar of income significantly shrank. Another example of carrying coals to Newcastle. Even in affluent Fairfax County, the basic starting salary for a teacher is $44K. The top of the standard scale for a PhD is still below $100K. Yet some would still refer to our teachers as leeches. More likely as leaches, actually, but there you go.
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