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Old 06-18-2007, 06:52 AM
Location: Western Durham
120 posts, read 673,473 times
Reputation: 97


I've got one child who'll enter third grade in the fall. He's just a regular kid. You know, the kind that complains about having to learn his spelling words, the kind who doesn't willing sit down to practice his math facts. The kind who wants to play first and do homework later.

I was looking for a school that would provide a safe and encouraging environment for my son. Sure, I want him to learn. Hubby and I both have advanced degrees; education is important to us. But I don't know that the test scores really tell the whole story. In my (granted) limited experience, it's the teachers who're most important.

How much better would my son's life be if he went to the "best" school? Somehow I don't think it would be that much better at all. I want my son to grow up to be a happy, well-adjusted and kind individual. And of course I want him to have acquired an education that will enable him to pursue the career of his choice.

Growing up I attended some really exceptional schools. I took all the "right" classes, but the pressure was just too much. As a parent, I wonder about all the kids who's parents move someplace they don't like or can't really afford, just to get their kids into these schools. Will they resent their children if the kids don't perform? Are the older ones going to feel the pressure of having to perform because they know Mom and Dad jumped through hoops to get them into a particular school?

I suppose it depends on the child whether or not they're really going to be that much better off in the long run for having gone to the "best" school. In our case, a safe environment, a place to make friends, an encouraging teacher... these are the things we wanted from a school.
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Old 06-18-2007, 06:59 AM
Location: NC
150 posts, read 543,482 times
Reputation: 35
Excellent post. There was an article in Newsweek last year that pretty much hit on most of what you covered. I will se if I can dig it up. Thanks for your thoughts.
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Old 06-18-2007, 07:01 AM
185 posts, read 881,445 times
Reputation: 41
I kinda agree with you.

I do want good schools and I think that good teachers will be reflected in the school scores.

but i know so many people that were in the honors classes in elementary school and burned out by high school. I on the other hand was in remedial and average elemntary school classes with grades of c's and worse in elementary school. But in High school I was an honors student and graduated in the top 10 percent of my class.

most important to me in a school is that they have a high graduation rate. I don't want my child in a school where the other students are telling her that it's ok to drop out and not graduate. and even better I want a school where a large percentage of the kids go on to college or a trade school.

personally i find it rediculous to have waiting lists for the best preschool. but I beleive in teaching but not pushing (at least while they're just kids). in high school though I think the kids need to be more driven and thinking about their future.
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Old 06-18-2007, 07:21 AM
3,031 posts, read 8,151,618 times
Reputation: 830
It's not so much the test scores. It's the parental involvement, the degree of commitment on the part of the teachers and administration and a lot of other things you just can't measure but are generally related to the test scores--so that's why so many people seem to get so stressed about the scores.

At least, that's my opinion!
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Old 06-18-2007, 07:23 AM
Location: NC
150 posts, read 543,482 times
Reputation: 35
For what it's worth - here is a link to the article I was referencing.

For Today's School Kids, Pressure Starts Early - Newsweek Health - MSNBC.com (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14638573/site/newsweek/ - broken link)
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Old 06-18-2007, 07:44 AM
Location: Downtown Raleigh, NC
2,086 posts, read 6,807,099 times
Reputation: 1298
I think a lot of people mistakenly believe that their child's success lies mainly with the school being the "best" instead of with parental involvement, and leave everything up to the school. Test scores don't tell much of a story in my opinion. They show how well students "mastered the test", not necessarily how much the students learned. I think that the best way to find out if a school is going to be the best for your child is to actually visit the school and see how things are done, meet teachers, etc. Then continue to be involved in the child's education even if the school is excellent.
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Old 06-18-2007, 07:58 AM
Location: Raleigh, NC
11,791 posts, read 27,445,898 times
Reputation: 8114
After having 4 kids and all of them have graduated from Wake County schools except our last one...she will enter high school this fall, my take is this...

The scores aren't "all" but they are somewhat important. For instance...if the scores for the school are low, and my child scores high...the teachers are so busy trying to assist those with "issues" that my child is left to fend for herself. Yes, I've seen this. Yes, I've brought it up to her teachers.

When she was in elementary school, she was a good reader so she spent time each day reading to some children that couldnt' even speak English. Now, don't get me wrong...that was good for her, it improved her reading skills BUT she was having some problems with math. How much better would she have been served had the teacher had more time to help her?

Just my opinion. Again...don't get me wrong. I am NOT saying the scores are EVERYTHING but yes, they are important.

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Old 06-18-2007, 07:59 AM
18 posts, read 82,885 times
Reputation: 19
I am relocating to Raleigh from Austin, and I am very concerned about whether or not my daughter is in a good school. Unlike your son, my daughter enjoys school, does her homework every day without being asked or told to do so (and has since she started school). She is in all advanced placement classes and wants to stay in AP classes until she graduates. The term "GOOD" school doesn't always imply that they have excellent scores on standardized test. It also implies that there are a greater diversity of classes offered, there is a well stocked library, low crime rate, etc. If you would like to be better informed on how schools are classified as "best" or "worst", please go to GreatSchools.net and check it out. Parents can be involved to the max, but if the school doesn't offer advanced chemistry classes your child's not going to learn fundamentals of organic chemistry (unless you are a chemist and teach them yourself). Some of the Raleigh area schools we have looked into offer very little in the way of foreign languages or advanced science classes. I'm not trying to say that parental involvement isn't required, what I'm trying to point out is that most of the people who want "great" schools are already involved--that point is moot.
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Old 06-18-2007, 08:13 AM
Location: Between a nook-a-ler reactor and a dump, North Cackalacky
283 posts, read 1,131,067 times
Reputation: 134
Perhaps it has something to do with status, competition, and a false belief that just being in the "best" school will somehow miraculously ensure the success of each child?

I went to mediocre city schools - heck my folks wouldn't let me even go to the CHAP school (AP magnet school) which I tested into - a mediocre party college, and I got a liberal arts degree. What I got throughout was an education with no pressure, which has proven extremely valuable and lucrative. And most of all, rewarding.

The reality is most kids are just going to be regular people. We still need garbagemen (er, sanitation engineers) and police just as much as we need doctors and even more lawyers. People can achieve a satisfying, fulfilling life outside of their parents' fantasies and neurotic pushing - and isn't that what's most important?

<edit>My sister followed the exact same path with the exact same schools I attended. She is a tenured Professor at a large university, the incoming Director of all Writing Programs for the univ,, and is about to have her second book published. Many name-conscious parents would be startled to know the schools from which she graduated. She is living a very fulfilling life w/ her hubby and child, in spite of it all. </edit>

Last edited by tee-tee; 06-18-2007 at 08:22 AM..
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Old 06-18-2007, 08:34 AM
Location: Austin TX
959 posts, read 4,100,891 times
Reputation: 464
I agree with what a lot of you have said. I'll be monitoring my children's education very closely no matter where they are and feel strongly that my involvement and encouragement are essential no matter what. I'm more concerned with how other involved parents view the school than aggregate test scores, and did what I could to gather opinions about our home base school before we bought the house. Everyone from parents to area teachers spoke very highly of our school - Hope Valley Elementary, and the middle and high schools we're districted to. If my children ever have an issue with a specific teacher (or some other unfixable type of thing), I'll pull them out for a year and homeschool them.

I'm in a bit of a quandary right now with my 6yo who just finished kindergarten. He has severe social anxiety that only comes out in situations involving teachers (school, gym class, etc) and is related to the articulation issues he had for years. Out in public he's extremely extraverted At his IEP meeting back in VA, which involved many different specialists, I was strongly urged to keep him in public school b/c they felt he needed to learn to excel in a formal teaching environment. I almost home schooled him for his last six weeks of kindergarten (after we moved to NC) but then with their thoughts at the back of my head decided to put him in school to see how it would go. We saw big improvements in the short time he was at Hope Valley Elementary. His teacher and the speech therapist have been phenomenal in encouraging him, and communicating with me, and gave me suggestions (which I requested) for what to work on with him this summer as he has some residual language delays resulting from his past articulation problems (which are almost completely gone now). I guess this is a long rambly paragraph to say:

- an involved parent + an involved teacher are the most important factors imo
- each child and family is unique and there are no easy answers - EVER

I'm feverish atm and feeling lazy so instead of my usual long rambling on a topic I'm quite fond of I'll now refer to an old thread that I posted in that had a similar topic

Cheaper home in Durham=kids in private schooling?
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