Re: A Violation

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Why do I think the entire thread will get hung up on the school district line? I just meant it as a yardstick, for people who were already in a perfectly good school district. Obviously if you're in a sufficiently awful school district, I'm not going to fault you for addressing it. Obviously this is all highly subjective.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 5:28 AM
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I use the Fran Lebowitz metric to measure good parenting.

If your child simply grows up to be someone who does not use the word collectible as a noun, you can consider yourself an unqualified success.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 6:14 AM
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Pithy aphorisms are the best collectibles of all.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 6:22 AM
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Eh, I'm in the worst school district in the state (by certain measurements and obviously I don't think they tell the whole story) and I think the neighbors who are sending their young kids elsewhere are racist, classist assholes. Though many of them have given me plenty of evidence for that even without school choice.

I'm also feeling like a pretty disastrous parent right now, even though I know the kids' hard times are not anywhere near solely my fault.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 6:38 AM
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I dunno about the parenting angle, but I think I've found a fall-back career:

SAT tutors who charge $35,000 per student.

Throw in speaking Mandarin and I could bump it up to at least $40,000/student.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 6:40 AM
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Anyway, my version of the argument is that if as a UMC involved parent you're taking your kids out of a supposedly crappy school, you're making the school crappier for all the other kids who don't have parents or privilege like your kids do and probably deserve a better school to compensate for it. Also, fuck everybody. I'm really sad and grumpy today.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 6:44 AM
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There's a billion people who speak Mandarin. I don't see what the big deal is.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 6:45 AM
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6: What if your UMC kid is a huge asshole who could make a school worse by attending? Probably an issue more applicable to high schools, but it does happen.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 6:47 AM
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I am probably just dyspeptic, but contemporary parenting seems rather a soft target to blame for all society's ills, particularly the inequality vogue. Who, after all, is going to argue that other people aren't doing it wrong?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 6:53 AM
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6. Right. It's only a sample of one, but I know a lad who went to a "failing school" (since closed) because his parents refused to move to shoehorn him into a fashionable one. But they were attentive, supportive and provided a solid home environment, and he managed to get to a decent university and collect a good degree*. Neither he nor his parents had any complaints about the school. They have plenty about the education authority and the government.

[*And married a girl from a private school.]


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 6:56 AM
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8: I'm actually really only arguing with the people who want Special Snowflake Kindergarten. By high school, you have to make whatever choice is best for your child and I think diverse options are probably a good thing.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:06 AM
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Yeah. My parents pulled me out of a Montessori preschool to send me to a Head Start program. I definitely learned far more in Head Start than I would have learned had I stayed in Montessori. At the early ages academics are really not all that important.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:14 AM
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4 - Is it racist/classist to send your kids to a private school if your district has notoriously poor schools? I get that you're saying that you have good reasons (besides) school choice that would lead you to say that. However, I'm genuinely curious about this. The argument (which I think you may have made on a separate post) that schools might be better if the wealthier people weren't sending their kids to private school sounds reasonable. Then again, if I had kids, and I don't, I'd surely be tempted to consider private schools in some of the regions in and around my city to get a better education. And, had I been in the position to make such a choice, I'm not sure if I'd favor grade school or later. But I have thought that later would be better so that they did have a chance to go to public school for a while.


Posted by: Rance | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:15 AM
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Re: the linked article in the OP: Fuck Harvard anyway, all they do is produce a bunch of John Yoos.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:16 AM
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I definitely learned far more in Head Start than I would have learned had I stayed in Montessori.

Waldorf is better than Montessori, because kids need mayonnaise in order to learn.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:17 AM
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Hey Thorn, does it count as commenting more if said comments are pwned anyway?


Posted by: Rance | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:17 AM
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I grew up in an amazing, top ten school district and ended up at mostly shitty, non-selective schools for the first dozen or so years of college. Unfortunately, my preconception-destroying bona fides have taken a hit the past few years.

We're about to move from a notably-good (or at least notably-highly-funded) district into a less-good district, one that is ever more full of arty UMC gentrifier types, but of whom a surprising proportion move away when their kids reach school age. I, personally, think they're being fairly silly, and any varirance in outcomes from the schools is due to the fact that, you know, the town is actually economically diverse. We'll see who's right!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:18 AM
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15: well, look, if you can just have the teachers come out here I can explain how to correctly run a school.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:18 AM
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I just had a bothersome conversation about this on Friday at a friend's house, where I was talking the principled line, but also feeling like a parasite.

I don't really get involved in the kids' (public, drawing from an economically very mixed catchment area, but test-admission based) school, although I give them money when they're fundraising. The friend whose house I was at is on the board of the organization that raises funds for the school, and does a lot of work for it, and another woman who was there who I know less well is heavily involved with the PTA. And I really disapprove that fundraising for a public school, for anything more serious than something silly like a marching band trip (not that we have a marching band) is even a possibility, because nothing about the public school experience should be contingent on how much money the parents at that school can put into it.

On the other hand, I do give money, because we're one of the better-off families at the school, and god forbid my kids should be benefiting from money raised from people who can afford it less than we can if we're not pulling our weight. And while I sort of wish my friend and the other woman weren't doing all of this fundraising work, Newt and Sally are benefiting from it, and I'd probably be less happy with the school in its absence, so I feel like an ingrate about it.

I still really do disapprove of fundraising for individual public schools, but it's hard to find a way to live a principled life in that regard.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:19 AM
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I live in a district where the superintendent fired the librarians, and when parents protested, condescendingly explained that he couldn't worry about the needs of the parents on the bench (read: wealthier area full of out of state liberals) because he had the "little Mexican kids" to think about.

I'm not sure I need to subject the Calabat to that clown, just to prove that I'm sufficiently down with the gente. He'll probably wind up at the public charter school here, if we stay here.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:22 AM
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What if he let the Mexican kids use the library?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:23 AM
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We were mostly too baffled to respond. You have a district where lots of kids need help -- so take away the librarians -- and because it's only the bench that protested -- it must be the children of the college professors that really need the librarians?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:25 AM
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Did he have any kind of substantive rationale for why firing the librarians was the right thing to do for the less-well privileged kids? I can't see what the rationale would be, but there might be one.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:27 AM
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I have a friend who is a teacher in the LAUSD and she's part of this site which is essentially kickstarter for public school classrooms, so you can chip in to buy, like, pencils and art supplies for [ Ms. Whoever ]'s class in North Hollywood or whatever. I donated once almost in spite of myself and now I can't get off their email list. But really, this is a way to fund schools? The fucking kickstarter model?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:27 AM
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23: the little Mexican kids need more cops in schools, not "books" that they won't ever learn to read because their parents won't teach them!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:28 AM
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23: No. Obviously, budget issues led to the cuts.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:30 AM
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13: People choose private schools for all kinds of reasons, and I went to Catholic school all the way because baby Jesus. I am more mad that my neighbors are paying $5K per year to send their little darlings to the public school in the next town when I know how far we could make the $100/child we get from the state (which also goes to the other school) go if they were here.

This isn't actually a hard-line moral stance I have. I mean, I don't yell at the other interracial two-mom family with black girls across the river who does Waldorf rather than the really dysfunctional urban public school their girls would go to otherwise nor any of the other parents who are trying charters or whatever else for their kids there. I'm just being a hater and am not actually rude to people in real life, though maybe it would be better if I were.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:30 AM
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23 crossed with 22. I hear arguments like that -- that the academic interests of UMC parents are at odds with those of needier kids, and I find them confusing where they're anything but completely explicit. Like "We can pay for a calculus class or a remedial reading class, but not both" would be clear. But when it gets even a little vaguer than that, like your superintendent's, I suspect them of being bullshit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:31 AM
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I still really do disapprove of fundraising for individual public schools, but it's hard to find a way to live a principled life in that regard.

Just donate equally to all schools in the district.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:32 AM
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20: I'd look into how to get good people onto the board that fires superintendents. It's why I'm on the board the elects principals, which I figure serves some of the same purpose. But no, you don't need to reward assholes and public schools are broken in a lot of ways, but they're also deliberately being broken by opponents (and asshole superintendents, definitely!) and that bothers me a lot.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:33 AM
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29: That leaves me with the same parasitism problem as not donating to my school; my kids would still be benefiting disproportionately from the donations of other parents to my school. Also, why just my district? Shouldn't I be sending a nickel to every school district in the country?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:35 AM
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I think that you'd have to run for election to do that here.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:35 AM
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"We can pay for a calculus class or a remedial reading class, but not both"

Why can't you cut funding for the football team and then pay for both? If that would be too unpopular, fine, but don't pretend it's not even a conceivable possibility.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:35 AM
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30: That's basically been the goal of the parents/education caucus lately.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:36 AM
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Urple? I'm not actually budgeting for a school here. I was postulating a hypothetical school that had made all reasonable cuts and was down to remedial reading versus calculus, and then (this is the bit you should pay attention to) saying that most actual arguments I hear along those lines don't rise to that level of coherence.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:38 AM
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my kids would still be benefiting disproportionately from the donations of other parents to my school

Your kids are benefitting disproportionately from the donations of other parents to your school whether you donate anything or not. That's inevitable. I thought you were trying to avoid guilt about your kids benefiting from money raised from people who can afford it less than you can, if you're not pulling your weight. If you still made your no-doubt-generous contribution but spread it around the district, then you'd still be pulling your weight. The unprincipled thing would be just spending the money on extra lattes. But you wouldn't be doing that.

Also, why just my district? Shouldn't I be sending a nickel to every school district in the country?

That seems impractical. Also, districts are how our schools are funded (in most places--is NYC different?), and that's true whether they do any private fundraising or not. That's a fundamental inequality that you don't have the financial means to redress.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:42 AM
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Delurking to ask if anyone wants to give me advice on where to buy a house? Related, I swear. We currently live pretty close to the line dividing our city from the close-in suburbs. Judging from test scores, city has terrible schools, closest suburb has amazing ones. Some chance of getting into a decent magnet or charter school in the city, but very far from guaranteed. On the other hand, city schools are racially/socioeconomically diverse, while suburban ones are almost all white. Plus, all else equal, we like living in the city - the commercial strip we can currently walk to is nicer than what we'd have in the suburbs, and we can also walk to a great park. House prices are comparable, although taxes are higher in the suburbs.

We are a white, UMC, 2-PhD family, which suggests to me that our 11 week-old daughter will end up more or less fine. But I don't want her to dislike, or be insanely bored by, school. And I worry that the current testing regime (we are in New York state, but not near NYC, FWIW) means that poorer schools are degenerating into test-prep factories even when they have good teachers. We don't know anyone who sends their kids to city schools mostly because we don't have many friends with school-age kids at all) so this is a vague sense rather than a well-informed opinion.


Posted by: Sarabeth | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:43 AM
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My dad was really riding me and Jammies about not sending our kids to private school.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:44 AM
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Judging from test scores, city has terribleSOCIOECONOMICALLY DIVERSE schools, closest suburb has amazingNON-DIVERSE ones.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:45 AM
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I don't have the financial means to redress inequality citywide any more than countrywide. This is why I want everyone to stop fundraising and to do it all through the tax system like a civilized country.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:46 AM
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We (I) have in many ways made totally classic irritating FOR THE SCHOOLS choices recently -- when we moved back here, we picked a house in the famously "good" school district, partly because of the draw of the schools themselves and partly because of my cold feet about buying and superstition that being in this district would make it easier to sell later (not likely, I suspect).* Also we are currently planning to stay with the current Montessori preschool through kindergarten because we like it (so why fix what isn't broken) and also because in I have read too many studies for work about the merits of prolonging play-based early education and delaying the start of direct instruction.

*One nice outcome of this as been to discover that the UMC people in this part of town often live here because they want to send their kids to public school, while their counterparts in Allegedly Worse District nearby often live there because they were planning on private school all along.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:46 AM
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35: I was agreeing with you.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:46 AM
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I don't have the financial means to redress inequality citywide any more than countrywide.

No, of course not. But you do have the financial means to stop exercerbating it by donating additional money just to your own childrens' school.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:48 AM
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exacerbating


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:50 AM
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39: Well, that's kind of my question. I know that test scores are driven by demographics, but I worry that the test scores then drive school quality, by forcing schools with unfavorable demographics to do nothing but test-prep.

41: I think this is probably true in my city as well. We currently live in a pretty UMC neighborhood within the city limits, but judging from the bumper stickers on cars around here, a lot of folks are sending their kids to private school.


Posted by: Sarabeth | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:52 AM
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45: I would encourage you to visit the schools in question, if you haven't already. Judge for yourself whether they are terrible or just diverse.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:57 AM
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I don't have the financial means to redress inequality citywide any more than countrywide.

Because you stopped working for evil people. You'll never make big lawyer money otherwise.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:59 AM
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37: Congratulations on the new baby! I'd say call the "bad" school, ask to take a tour of the kindergartens and talk to parents of kids in the gifted and talented program. Maybe ask how Common Core Standards are being implemented, because the way our school is doing them makes me skip the hate a lot of FB friends have for them.

A lot can change in a school in the time it will take for your child to be ready for school. So look for signs at either place that things are likely to improve or decline in quality.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:00 AM
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It's really hard for me to imagine a case in which sending kids to private schools is actually justified. But this is one of those topics where, whenever it comes up, I seem to be told "oh, just wait until you have kids, then you'll understand". But really, I don't think the choice of school can matter very much until high school, and pretty much all the best high schools in the country are public schools anyway.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:09 AM
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But really, I don't think the choice of school can matter very much until high school

Well, it can matter in terms of whether you're miserable. I went to an elementary school that was academically swell but I was a terrible fit both with my cohort (i.e. I was the outcast kid) and the general genteel tenor of the way everything was run, so I was continually accidentally in trouble. It would have been nicer for me to change schools before sixth grade, for sure. (For middle school I went to a "bad" public school and had a great time.) I'm sure similar things happen where kids just get off on the wrong foot and get pigeonholed as troublemakers, or the school is reluctant to do what they're supposed to do to accommodate the kid's learning disability, or there is some horrible violent bully that has targeted the kid, or whatever.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:16 AM
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I went to public schools all of my life. So did my daughter. However, we decided to ship my son off to an expensive boarding school. It focuses on learning disabilities. Plus, he got to be a kid with a little less drama.

It is relatively welcoming of diversity. But, I still mutter under my breath about the rich people's attitude of some of the kids.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:17 AM
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50: Well, sure. But I don't think there's much correlation between those things and whether the school is perceived as "good" by the usual UMC standards.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:17 AM
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In my humble opinion, public schools are great for the smart, high-achievers and the special education kids. The middle, not so much.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:18 AM
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The thing with 50 is that kids can be miserable at a private school, as well. You just have to keep an eye on how miserable your kid seems, and address it as you go. (I'm by no means accusing Snarkie and RFTS of not doing that, of course.)

The Competitive Parenting attitude seems to assume that the system can and should be gamed from Day One, which is different from saying "I plan on responding and adjusting as things evolve, especially if the kid seems miserable."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:19 AM
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Huh, the exact argument in 53 was used over Thanksgiving to justify why the elementary school in affluent-seeming Marin was insufficient for the medium-snowflake in question.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:20 AM
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52: Absolutely, as my own story illustrates! Though it can explain why someone might reasonably send their kid to a private school, if they're in a smallish school district where there's only one public school option and it has turned out to be immiserating.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:20 AM
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I was about to comment but figured I should read some of the thread first and 1 ruined my whole plan.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:20 AM
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49: I suspect that it isn't just that you've not had kids, but that you've never seen a district in complete failure. There are smallish districts in some of the depopulated, formerly industrial suburbs where the schools are bad enough that literally every family with the ability to move has done so.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:21 AM
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53 is so humble it's unsigned. It's also pretty tendentious, so that's a nifty trick.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:25 AM
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Here's one example that's down the road a ways. What are you supposed to do when there are forty other children in your child's grade and only ten of them are reading at grade level and fewer than ten doing math at grade level and the state has already decided to close the high school?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:27 AM
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55:

I was thinking about high school, not elementary school.

For my son, his freshmen classes for the "average" were filled with older kids who were rowdy and didn't care. (repeating classes) He is easily distracted and not very motivated so it was extra difficult for him.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:28 AM
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So it sounds like it's not weird to just call up a school and ask to come in? For some reason, I had thought that would be a crazy request - but I know nothing about how schools actually work. If it's not something that is going to get me marked out as the crazy parent years before my child actually starts school, I will totally do it.


Posted by: Sarabeth | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:28 AM
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53 was me. I had to look up tendentious so that proves that public schools failed me.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:29 AM
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62: Nope, totally reasonable.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:30 AM
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Also, I need to figure out if there *is* a gifted program in the city school district - all the online research I've done has turned up nothing, but I hope that's not the full picture. Not that I want to assume my kid will actually be gifted, but I imagine that she'll test well.


Posted by: Sarabeth | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:31 AM
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Sarabeth:

I vote that you live in the city. I educated my kids mostly in the suburbs. I don't know about your city, I moved to the city about 9 years ago and wish I had done it sooner. I think the greatest challenges are high school so you will have a long time in the city and who knows what the schools will be like then.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:32 AM
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63: oho! Well, now that a name's attached, explain yourself. Certainly my experience (in way way outlier public schools, but anyhow) was that public schools worked pretty well for kids of UMC/educated parents of whatever ability, pretty well for less-UMC parents who were highly motivated, and not very well for oddballs who could have used more personal attention (hi there!)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:33 AM
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high school is so far off. Make decisions for your kids about the next 11 years first.

Job changes, divorce (not you, of course, Sarabeth, but for almost everyone else), and life tend to get in the way of our plans for 15 years in the future.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:34 AM
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A friend of mine has a kid who is in a big play that will force kid to miss about a month of school. They sat down with the principal, who told them, essentially "your kid is already too smart [reading 5 grade levels ahead] and this extra enrichment will make it impossible for our mediocre teachers and students to assimilate the kid back into boring busywork classes." Now, the messed up part is that this is the *good* public school, which is full of professors' kids and has a positive reputation citywide. I guess if it was one of the lousy schools, they just wouldn't care.

As I may have said before, I think most of this "choose your kindergarten, choose your fate" stuff is nonsense. I went to regular, inner-city public schools K-12, and of my cohort, I'm the failure. Everyone else has solid UMC prospects (or is there already), most went to good state schools or SLACs for college, everyone can read, etc. And I could have been much better off if I'd played my cards right post-college. I guess maybe that's the point of sending your kids to schools that will indoctrinate them with unshakeable UMC values -- the threat of being mediocre is just so horrible to contemplate that they'll step on anyone they need to in order to climb the ladder.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:36 AM
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sifu:
61 was also me and contains my explanation. Elementary and middle school were fine for my son. High school, not so much. The classes with the average student are filled with people who don't want to go to college. A kid can certainly do well, but the distractions are greater.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:37 AM
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We have a gifted program, but it is bizarre: of all the very bright kids I know (maybe 15-20 at this one elementary school?), only one has been selected. The rest keep getting tested, year after year, and turned down. All I can think is that funding has been so drastically slashed that you have to be top 1% to qualify, instead of top 20% or something.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:37 AM
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Oh wait, you did explain yourself. It's too bad I never learned to read.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:38 AM
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And in a lot of ways, our elementary school next year is very depressing: barely any recess, art once every two weeks, music once every two weeks, lots and lots of worksheets and episodes of Magic Schoolbus, etc.

OTOH, the only private schools in town are Baptist and hell no.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:40 AM
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I hated art and music in elementary school.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:43 AM
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Basically, parenting feels like you are constantly navigating land mines and trying to plan 10 years off into their future.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:43 AM
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8- You can use that to make money as well- instead of bribing officials to get your kid somewhere, make the officials pay you under threat of sending your kid to their school.
17- SPouse works in said district, we accept bribes in the form of cash, pot, or high-end bottled spirits.
19- I think there's a bumper sticker about that you could put on your car.
45- Some organizations have tried to measure things like "value-add" for urban district schools (actual performance vs. performance based on SES of the student population) but which school districts have been evaluated is pretty spotty.
49- Well, they still pay taxes to fund the schools even though they aren't using any of the resources, not a bad deal.
At private schools kids learn how to buy/sell drugs like the rich kids do, ie without getting caught or involved in the criminal justice system. I went to UMC public school and the ratio of drug dealing to people arrested/charged was approximately infinite (maybe there was one bust ever.)
65- Gifted programs are deprecated. One of my special snowflakes is in first grade and doing various middle school math topics (nothing comprehensive, just random math problems he likes doing.) In school he sometimes has his own sheets he can work on for individual time, but during group times he works with other kids at various levels so they can figure out stuff as a team (e.g. for word problems another kid is a better reader so they team up to translate and solve the problems.) The teacher told us at his conference that one time at the beginning of the year he asked why he had to work on stuff he already knew, but they explained the class rules well enough that he's happy working with other kids now and isn't stuck up about it.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:44 AM
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And after all that 1 was entirely correct.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:44 AM
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71: Of course, my whole life would have been different if I hadn't gotten screwed over in 3rd grade by an evil, vindictive teacher who really didn't care about education as much as she wanted everyone to conform to her 1950s-era ideas of how little kids should act. I was way out in front of the rest of the class in reading, but I wasn't allowed into the gifted program because she had stuck me with a backlog of 2 weeks of homework at the beginning of the school year after I had transferred from another school. Pretty much everything that has gone wrong in my life -- the bitterness, the compulsive eating, the grudge-holding, etc. -- is due to that one teacher's idiotic decision to penalize me for errors on the part of the school system. I could have been anything I wanted to be if it weren't for her. The worst part is, I was pathetically eager to please her at the beginning of the year, since K-2 had been with a wonderful Montessori teacher, and I expected to get along really well with teachers. Oh well. Wouldn't have met all my anarchist friends if she hadn't been so evil.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:44 AM
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The Competitive Parenting attitude seems to assume that the system can and should be gamed from Day One

Whereas the rest of us assume that we can wait a bit to start gaming the system. I dunno. We certainly considered the school district when we bought our house recently, and we are amused by our white neighbors, who generally don't send their kids to the (quite acceptable, but majority-minority) public schools.

But the Competitive Parents' assumption seems to be the same as mine: that advantages are doled out unfairly to people who assiduously game the system. I'm not sure how much of my sense of moral superiority is justified. Maybe it's just laziness.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:45 AM
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barely any recess, art once every two weeks, music once every two weeks

This, most especially the recess, is why we ended up in a private school. In terms of "academic" reputation, the school we're in is worse than the public schools. But they let them play so much! Mostly outside!


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:46 AM
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62: I'd assume a school in that situation would know what the perception of it is and the principal would be thrilled to try to get involved parents there. Our principal would absolutely do a tour if someone called and asked, and honestly the superintendent would probably come along if he had the time. You could really just say, "We're trying to make a decision that's going to be partly based on schools and I'd like to see the schools for myself." The gifted & talented stuff was just a shortcut to get you in touch with other UMC involved parents. Asking about PTA and volunteering opportunities might do the same.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:46 AM
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As a poor kid who went to Harvard, I find articles like the one in the OP really off-putting. Mostly for reasons that are hard to put a finger on, but in part because it's so dismissive of the poorer students already there.

Another reason which I can put a finger on. I wanted to go to a school with a class of math students "like me," and if the only way to do that is to have most of the students be much richer than me, then I'm ok with that. I'd like articles that pay some attention to whether and how schools could change things to help the demographics problem without changing the nature of the school.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:52 AM
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if the only way to do that is to have most of the students be much richer than me,

But of course, it's not. Harvard could spend a lot more time and energy combing through not-so-affluent regions and identifying students like you.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:56 AM
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Maybe, I don't know, the article said absolutely nothing about how much energy they spend on that, or whether another school is doing a better job, or how another school is doing a better job.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:01 AM
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I remember reading elsewhere that they do a dramatically awful job of connecting with wildly outstanding kids from underrepresented regions. I can't fill in the details.

It's blurring in my mind with another article about how three outstanding first-generation Valley kids from Texas flamed out dramatically at Emery, maybe Rice, and Texas State, and ended up with boatloads of debt and no degree. But I think that was a different point.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:03 AM
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I mean, the place I can think of that does (did?) do a better job of giving an elite education to a poorer group of students is UC Berkeley. But it's a much bigger school, and the average student is much worse. What does the demographics of say the top thousand Berkeley students look like? If the top Berkeley students are poorer than the comparable ivy league students then that's an interesting article.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:04 AM
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Ivy enrollments haven't kept up with population growth by leaps and bounds. Therefore there are plenty of brilliant kids attending big state schools.

OTOH, I think this is a good thing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:07 AM
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It'd be fun at some point to see the list of schools that are richer/less economically diverse than Harvard. There have to be quite a few, right? Sarah Lawrence? Bennington? Dartmouth? Put your cards on the table, rich-schools-happy-to-let-Harvard-take-the-heat.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:08 AM
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I mean, the place I can think of that does (did?) do a better job of giving an elite education to a poorer group of students is UC Berkeley.

I think Rice and Grinnell are known for this.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:09 AM
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Ivy enrollments haven't kept up with population growth by leaps and bounds. Therefore there are plenty of brilliant kids attending big state schools.

Of course, in the meantime, big state schools have also gotten more expensive.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:09 AM
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I don't know anything about Rice, but Grinnell is a whole different kettle of fish. It isn't even a university.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:10 AM
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It's not really a kettle of fish, either.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:12 AM
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90: The brilliant kids usually get decent scholarships to such places, though.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:13 AM
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Rice and Harvard both have 15% of student on Pell Grants. I think you're confusing "schools that find promising students from underrepresented regions" with "schools that find promising students from underrepresented regions in Texas."


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:16 AM
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92: Iowa doesn't have enough open water to get that many fish.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:17 AM
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No, I got the impression about Rice when I was applying to colleges, living in Florida. It's not something that I have recent evidence for, particularly.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:19 AM
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Also, 15% on Pell grants seems high, when only 17.8% comes from the bottom three quintiles. I don't know the cut-off for Pell eligibility, but I'd guess it's half that.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:21 AM
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I am so fucking sick of all the worrying about the brilliant kids here. Guess what, the brilliant kids, including all of your fucking kids, will be just fine no matter what and have plenty of perfectly fine options. Even objectively really bad public schools won't be that bad, unless they also have severe behavioral issues! I mean, at the end of the day, do what you want with the fucking geniuses, it's everybody else, particularly the vast middle range of students - lets call them the "99 percent" to put this conversation in context -- that you need to worry about.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:26 AM
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I used Washington' Monthly's numbers. The numbers aren't consistent from place to place, USNews has much higher numbers (Harvard at 20%).

The only comparable institution that does substantially better than the others, as far as I can tell, is Columbia. There the explanation is obvious.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:26 AM
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Which also has to do with the "competitive parenting" attitude referenced in the OP. Guess what, if your kid is doing 8th grade problems in first grade math you don't *need* to game the system as much.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:28 AM
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re: 98

[High fives Halford]

It's usually me that bangs on about exactly that.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:29 AM
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98 is my belief- our high school is supposedly "bad" based on test scores but it's just a reflection of population diversity. Kids with home support from high SES do totally fine there yet some people still move away because it's "bad." We've always planned to send our kids there.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:33 AM
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98: Public school lunches are mostly grain-based.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:34 AM
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I am so fucking sick of all the worrying about the brilliant kids here

It's not that I disagree with you generally, but who here are you arguing with?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:35 AM
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I am so fucking sick of all the worrying about the brilliant kids here.

Isn't the only actual "worrying about the brilliant kids" happening here a function of 82?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:36 AM
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Like, nearly 10% of the kids in our school system are homeless. WTF, how is this even a thing? (This is sort of why I didn't comment on the Poverty thread and now wish I had, especially once I realized much of it was set in Cincy and I could have easily said, "Come on, no, that's not a plausible bit!" ) And yet I still recommend it to the parents of young kids in our neighborhood and not because I think their kids need to be dragged down by The Homeless but because it's a school that's doing well despite real difficulties and being afraid of those difficulties doesn't make them not exist(, assholes.) So you try kindergarten and if it's not right for your kid, do first grade somewhere else. We are not in an area where anyone's on a wait list since babyhood, so it's not a big deal.

(That last bit is sort of to redfox's point that it's not worth making your child miserable forever. As someone who cried every night for years of private grade school and probably would have been just as miserable at public school though maybe not, that seems drastically different from just not trying because awesome kid.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:36 AM
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Also, 98 annoys me deeply. I'm relatively calm about things, but I won't be happy if my kid does "fine" in terms of education. Nor, now that it comes to seeing somebody learn how to read/math/etc. is it obvious to me that intellectual 1%-hood is strictly inherited or transmitted vicariously in the home.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:37 AM
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104: exactly. Speaking personally, I plan to, if possible, have kids that are large, strong, healthy and dumb as stumps. That way they won't embarrass me in front of guests by knowing stuff I don't know - I'll be able to keep them in an appropriate state of filial awe and respect by knowing things they don't, like the date of the First Reform Act or how to treat a chest infection; they'll be like those apemen in 2001 in front of the Monolith - and they can help me with the heavy lifting when I'm old and decrepit. Plus, when I was at school, the large, strong, healthy and dumb as stumps types seemed to have a much better time.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:40 AM
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I agree completely with 98.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:40 AM
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Contra Halford, I think everyone deserves a chance to be happy and feel like they belong somewhere.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:41 AM
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Also on the irritated by 98 bench, even though I agree with what I think Halford actually meant as the substance of it. I'm not entitled to do anything unethical or to hurt people to make my kids better off. And my kids are ridiculously fine -- they're reasonably academically successful upper middle class kids who aren't being bullied or having trouble making friends. My parenting decisions at this point are really low stakes.

On the other hand, of course I'm going to worry about them, and do whatever I think is best for them within the limits of ethics and reason, and that's just ordinary parenting; trying to shame people for it is ridiculous.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:42 AM
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107 -- you kid may not be a genius! Mine's probably not, either. It's the well educated, UMC parents of nongeniuses who have the most to worry about in gaming the system, because there's a real worry that the kid won't maintain class status/achieve an educational level comparable to the parents without system gaming, personal attention, etc. These are the people the "good" schools are for, or at least who they primarily benefit.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:42 AM
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"Your."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:43 AM
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they'll be like those apemen in 2001 in front of the Monolith - and they can help me with the heavy lifting when I'm old and decrepit.

You know, I have large, strong, emotionally stolid children, and while they're not quite dumb as stumps I still have them intellectually intimidated. But somehow this has turned into less unquestioning subservience and more getting tackled unexpectedly. I'm not sure quite where I went wrong.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:46 AM
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less unquestioning subservience and more getting tackled unexpectedly. I'm not sure quite where I went wrong.

I regularly argue with my daughter about who is the boss. I don't seem to be winning.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:48 AM
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115: Tony Danza?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:49 AM
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88: Here's some links for lists like that. Virginia manages to be worse than almost all the ivies, while simultaneously being a state school!


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:50 AM
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110: This is especially important for brilliant kids because they are more dangerous. We can't have them all turning into Lex Luthors and Mojo Jojos.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:52 AM
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115: "My body is my body and I'm in charge of it and I don't want my body to get out of bed or go to school!" True story from this morning!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:53 AM
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It's not a problem that people want the best for their own children and are emotionally attached to what is going to be good for them. At the individual level that's completely natural.

However, every time education comes up here, the overwhelming focus is on bright kids, and then there's a little concern for [usually bright] kids from very economically or socially deprived backgrounds. There's very very little concern for everyone else. Halford's right about that.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:53 AM
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Thing is, a school doesn't just guide intellectual development, it is also vital for emotional development. And I'm not blasé about my children doing "fine" emotionally, if only because there are all sorts of ways for them to inherit my neuroses and other issues. And if that sort of thing is your motivation for switching school districts or going to private school or homeschooling, I totally understand.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:54 AM
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Or, put differently, what UMC people are buying from expensive schools (whether actually private or public schools in a rich kid's school district) isn't really "education" per se but rather "insurance against intergenerational class decline in case my kid's not actually that successful." If your kid is actually a genius there's somewhat less reason to pay a lot for that insurance.

IMO the real problem is the whole concept of a meritocracy that makes this such a high stakes game. If the consequences for falling weren't so great none of this would matter nearly as much, and we could bring UMC people back into ordinary public schools. Or in other words what you need to restore educational equality is a grater degree of outcome equality.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:54 AM
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120: This thread, particularly, didn't read that way to me at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:58 AM
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less unquestioning subservience and more getting tackled unexpectedly. I'm not sure quite where I went wrong.

I just can't picture this in any way other than something along the lines of Calvin being pounced on by Hobbes ("GRRRRRRRR!" "AAAAAAAAAAH!"), which is a bit of a stretch for the old brain.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:59 AM
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122 is right.

121: It's not that I don't see the force of the worry, but in most cases I doubt the practicality of managing your kids' emotional health by picking schools. My parents came close to trying that with me -- I was a miserable little mess of an elementary school child, and they were thinking of sending me to a ridiculously expensive private school to protect me from being abused by public high school students. And from what I now know of the school I narrowly avoided being sent to, that would have done me no good at all.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:02 AM
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124: Have you met Sally? Because that's pretty much it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:02 AM
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But aren't most people here who are UMC parents saying that they are in favor of keeping their kids in ordinary public schools, whether because they think the kids will actually be fine and/or because they're opposed to UMC flight?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:04 AM
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123:

I felt like it did. The assumption was "we are worried that our smart kid won't be challenged enough."

Maybe it is my bias, but that is fairly typical of parents of babies and toddlers. "My child will prob be gifted so we want to evaluate based on the information about the gifted kids. Look how many people from this high school [when the child is only a baby] went to Harvard [the UVa of the North (Shame on you Unfoggetarian for your attempted slander of UVa.)]."


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:05 AM
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The assumption was "we are worried that our smart kid won't be challenged enough."

Whose assumption in which posts? There was some talk about gifted programs -- Thorn suggesting that Sarabeth look into them, Sarabeth wondering if they exist, Heebie noting that the programs in her local schools are really selective. But I don't see posts in this thread making the assumption you're talking about.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:08 AM
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128: I've been talking about districts with 50% to 70% graduation rates and state-takeovers and narrowly averted state-takeovers.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:10 AM
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I am not high achieving enough to care to go back and read posts. Plus, I gave myself an out by saying "I felt like it did." Actual posts are not relevant to my feelings.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:11 AM
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Thanks for all the opinions. I'll say more after I'm home from the ER, where my kid is under observation for four hours after I fell down the stairs with her. Fuck schools, she'll be lucky if I don't kill her before she can walk.


Posted by: Sarabeth | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:14 AM
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125: I know someone, much older than you, who is still emotionally scarred from her time at what I think is the school you avoided.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:14 AM
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Yow. Best wishes for her, but I'm sure she'll be fine.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:14 AM
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127 -- yes, but that's because people here are either abnormally principled (eg Thorn) or abnormally (but probably correctly) confident that their own kids are super smart academic one percenters who will be fine everywhere, or both.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:15 AM
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134 to 133.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:16 AM
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132: Oh no! O went down the stairs ass over tea kettle on my watch when he was about 1. He cried for 10 minutes. I cried for two hours. All good thoughts.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:17 AM
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Hope the kid is fine, Sarabeth!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:18 AM
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Today's issue hits close to home, since my son is transferring from public (5th grade) to private (4th grade) school today. Both parents went through public schools k -12, and we both took school buses into inner city neighborhoods as part of integration busing, back in the day. We console ourselves that his leaving will infinitesimally increase aggregate test scores in the public school, and non-infinitesimally increase the resources available for the other special needs kids in the public school. And we're going to keep paying the taxes, voting to increase the taxes on ourselves, etc. Frankly, supporting the public schools by paying taxes seems much more efficient and effective than supporting it by keeping our son there.

The issue from our perspective is how much should we deprive our son to keep other kids from falling relatively behind. Should we have removed the books from the house so he didn't have the advantages associated with a house full of books? Should we split up so he doesn't have the advantages of a two parent home that so many kids lack? If not, why should we deprive him of a tutor or a private school?

The major fallacy of the quote in the opening post is that the best thing you can do for your kid is get them into the most selective college. It wasn't the best thing for me, even though my parents had little to do with it, and definitely wouldn't be for my son.


Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:20 AM
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the advantages of a two parent home

two homes = double the enrichment opportunities! Plus exposure to step-siblings and step-parents, and mom or dad's new friends!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:23 AM
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The counterpoint to 125 is that the school you actually went to is arguably the best school in the world for a healthy environment for smart high school kids.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:28 AM
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125, 133: Yeah, I count a lot of my emotional scars as coming from a exclusive private school. I wasnt' saying that private schools are necessarily more nurturing than public schools. I just think that emotional well being is a legitimate reason to change schools.

In any case, our schools are fine. Jojo has some problems with teachers that Caroline loved, which might mean they are really only good teachers for good kids. On the other hand, it may be that a difficult child is going to perceive problems even when he is getting exactly the kind of experience he would benefit most from.

I don't Jojo will become Mojo Jojo, though. We don't have any Chemical X around the house to make his brain grow out of his skull.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:29 AM
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One of my kids has ears that could pass for Mojo Jojo.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:31 AM
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139: Mmm. I'm in a very easy position to sound principled, because the public schools I've had my kids in all along have been really very pleasant (yes, economically mixed, yes, majority-minority, but nothing like 'failing'), and my kids have thrived there.

Once you're talking about special needs, I think there's room for a lot of latitude for finding a school that seems to be the best fit for whatever's specifically going on with your kid.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:33 AM
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135: Are you saying that this conversation is unfairly deprecating the aspirations, anxieties, and behavior, of parents with above average but not 99th percentile children?


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:34 AM
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141: If you're looking to develop massively inflated egos without any accompanying work ethic, sure. I am certainly secure in my knowledge of my own scintillating intellect, and no lack of accomplishment will ever disturb that self-image.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:35 AM
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146: It is really hard to fail upwards if you don't have a capacious ego.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:39 AM
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Right, just like I said, healthy!


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:39 AM
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145: Sort of? I don't think I can say it better than 122.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:40 AM
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Thing is, a school doesn't just guide intellectual development, it is also vital for emotional development. And I'm not blasé about my children doing "fine" emotionally, if only because there are all sorts of ways for them to inherit my neuroses and other issues. And if that sort of thing is your motivation for switching school districts or going to private school or homeschooling, I totally understand.

I am 100% on board with this.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:41 AM
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However, every time education comes up here, the overwhelming focus is on bright kids, and then there's a little concern for [usually bright] kids from very economically or socially deprived backgrounds. There's very very little concern for everyone else. Halford's right about that.

The overwhelming focus is on our own kids, which by selection bias tends to be a bright and advantaged crew.

But! There is a huge level of concern for kids from deprived backgrounds, here. There's just not much to say or argue about, because we all agree pretty uniformly.

So count me in as annoyed by 98 et al.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:45 AM
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Or, I guess what I would say is that yes, to some extent the thread is is unfairly deprecating the aspirations, anxieties, and behavior, of [Upper Middle Class] parents with above average but not 99th percentile children. On the one hand, some of those aspirations, anxieties, and behaviors are contemptible. On the other hand those aspirations, anxieties, and behaviors are completely understandable, if we start from the position that people who have advantages don't want their kids to lose those advantages in a winner-take-all, purportedly meritocratic society. Basically, everyone is an asshole and the system sucks.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:45 AM
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Only tangentially related to the OP in the most tenuous way, but:

http://jacobinmag.com/2013/11/the-end-of-classical-music/



Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:46 AM
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153 -- I loved that piece when I read it, and I don't think that it's actually pretty closely connected to the themes in the OP. Particularly this:

There are two logical corollaries to Bourdieu's analysis relevant to the discussion. First is the widespread belief among contemporary elites that their acquisition of great wealth is not only justified but self-justifying. Exercises of noblesse oblige, whether investments in the arts and culture, generosity or even simple decency towards others are no longer necessary, by now viewed as sentimental archaisms, vestiges of a pre-meritocratic elite.
Second, what is by now an unshakeable faith in the transcendent wisdom of the marketplace not only justifies the withdrawal of elite support but demands it, based on the rationale that they should not "pick winners" or "put their thumbs on the scale" in so doing corrupting market mechanisms taken as omniscient arbiters of value.

Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:53 AM
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God damn it. I *do* think that it's closely connected to the themes in this thread.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:54 AM
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I know Halford hates anyone talking about smart kids, but the original article was about Harvard! You can't talk about Harvard as if it's talking about ordinary kids of rich parents. That just isn't the people going to Harvard. This is part of what annoys me about articles using Harvard as an example, it's not relevant to interesting points about anything but the top tenth of a percent.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:55 AM
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ordinary kids of rich parents. That just isn't the people going to Harvard
Well, not the majority, but probably up to 10% of students. Maybe should specify ordinary kids of _really_ rich parents.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:58 AM
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135: Ehhh, it's complicated and not just about principles for me. I don't think it would be fair to the kids we're fostering to throw them into a wealthy suburban school where they'd be the only black kids AND only kids who say "ain't" AND only kids with incarcerated parents, etc. Nia's prior foster family sent her to a school like that and their shittiness to her (seriously, who writes zeros on a kindergartener's work when you know the kid didn't do the work because she can't read and thus couldn't read the directions?) had a hugely negative impact on her self-esteem and ability to learn.

Plus you generally can't send your foster child to private school or homeschool, and so making Mara conform to the same standard just seemed fair and was how I talked Lee out of Waldorf, though both girls would probably rock Waldorf. But I've said I'd consider sending them to the all-girls Catholic high school I attended, and if either of them were being emotionally or educationally destroyed by being at the public school, I'm not going to make them suffer. (I am going to make them go to school, which I'm reminded daily is a form of suffering that's practically unbearable. Sorry, kid!)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 11:00 AM
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Oh, the other argument for us is a real lack of interested in paying to be the diversity for wealthier kids. Mara especially expresses a strong preference for a classroom where plenty of others have brown skin (mostly Latino or black/white biracial in her class, but that's enough to count for her and there is one black-like-her boy) and was consistently vocal about her discomfort in their very white YMCA summer day camp.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 11:02 AM
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I say this every time we have this conversation, but I truly do believe that I am one of the kids that an ordinary school might have killed. Maybe that's just a few kids, but I think I was one of them. I was doing so miserably in a regular school, and even in a gifted school that I am not exaggerating when I say it might have killed me, or certainly killed anything recognizable about me now. It wasn't until I was in a highly gifted school that I came anywhere close to an OK emotional life. So sure, maybe it is a tiny fraction that we shouldn't worry about. But I am certain that I was in it, and the solution, grouping us, has its own set of benefits.

Tying together two other themes here, my sister's boyfriend seems to be cool enough to be transmitting his love of classical music to the nephews. They will be civilized!


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 11:16 AM
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85: I easily could have been one of the kids that flamed out at Emory. Damn that place is full of privileged kids. The whole time I was there I met one other kid who attended a public high school.

I've been told that here in Utah the best way to get your kids to interact with a diverse population is to send them to the non-religious private school. Otherwise you're faced with a mostly Mormon population. But I haven't done any research.

Right now I'm more concerned with raising social kids. I was an extremely weird kid and my husband is fairly weird too. I'm hoping to raise cheerleaders and quarterbacks.


Posted by: LizSpigot | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 11:22 AM
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Right now I'm more concerned with raising social kids. I was an extremely weird kid and my husband is fairly weird too. I'm hoping to raise cheerleaders and quarterbacks.

This has kind-of-sort-of happened for my kids. Not all the way to cheerleaders and quarterbacks, but both kids are significantly more ordinary-happy-and-social than I ever was. Not that I have any advice about how to make that happen.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 11:29 AM
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Not that I have any advice about how to make that happen.

Doesn't regression to the mean almost guarantee it?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 11:31 AM
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||
People here talk about Chris Christie being of the off-putting NY-area type. Yeah, he is. But even more so for me is Andrew Cuomo; man he really sets my teeth on edge.
|>


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 11:34 AM
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Couldn't agree with you more. If I get stuck voting for him against any Republican, I'll be seriously considering staying home.


Posted by: Person Who Shouldn't Badmouth Her Ex-Boss Under Her Own Name | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 11:36 AM
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I'm hoping to raise cheerleaders and quarterbacks.

Yes. My joke-not-a-joke dream for O is that he's an OSU LAXbro.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 11:39 AM
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Huh. My baseline expectation is that my kids will be socially conventional, and I'm hoping that they want to deviate at least a teeny bit.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 11:44 AM
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If you're looking to develop massively inflated egos without any accompanying work ethic

Well, someone has to show up for Unfoggedy50con.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 11:46 AM
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Heebie, you mentioned that your dad and brother were mean to Hokey Pokey about clothing, etc. How did you deal with it with them and did they understand?


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 11:52 AM
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167: Oh, I'm all for deviance, generally. But I'm glad they've turned out cheerful rather than morose.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 11:53 AM
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(Off to teach, but I'll answer 169 after class.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 11:53 AM
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Fermat's Last Comment


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 11:56 AM
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my husband is fairly weird too. I'm hoping to raise cheerleaders and quarterbacks.

Well, I count as a weird husband, and I actually do want my kids to be weird too. I just want them to be happier than I am. In fact, the main reason I encourage my kids to be weird is that I suspect cheerleaders and quarterbacks aren't really all that happy. "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation," and all that.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 12:40 PM
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Mmm. I'm in a very easy position to sound principled, because the public schools I've had my kids in all along have been really very pleasant

I confess that I have often (somewhat uncharitably) had this thought about you, personally, when you have talked about your principled public school choices.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 12:42 PM
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(Off to teach, but I'll answer 169 after class.)

Thanks. And I thought to ask because of the cheerleader turn in this thread.

(Odd. I didn't think to ask how you dealt with it with Hokey himself. I guess I had fewer questions about how that side worked out. My assumption being that you & Jammies handled it well with your child.)


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 12:48 PM
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Anyway, I don't think I've talked about it much here, but I am something of a grouch about The Special Special Needs of the Gifted and generally think that there are two things that are weirdly often talked about as special needs of special populations, but are in fact general needs of all children that I would want for everyone:

- Not to be bored out of your skull (hardly just a problem for the super bright)

- Not to have to sit still all the time if you don't want to (often described as a way schools are bad for boys, but c'mon)


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 12:48 PM
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And it's a fair one. OTOH, the really very pleasant elementary school my kid went to, is one that other middle-class white parents of kids we knew as preschoolers fled because it was heavily non-white and immigrant (or, I'm projecting there, no one said that sort of thing. But lots of parents of kids we knew either moved out of the neighborhood, had their kids commute to a public school in a different neighborhood, or went private.

My uncharitable thought (not directed at anyone specifically in this thread) about people who flee 'failing' schools for their kids, is that they haven't actually done the due diligence on whether the school they're fleeing is actually going to be harmfully bad, and that mostly they're wrong to think it would be.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 12:48 PM
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177 to 174.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 12:49 PM
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176, absolutely.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 12:50 PM
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173: I'm in agreement. I want them to be happy and the best way to do that is to not raise them to be too unconventional. I remember being so confused about why kids were awful, when it's so obvious now. Being raised by hippie atheists in a town of Catholics doesn't make for an easy childhood.


Posted by: LizSpigot | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 12:50 PM
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177: Yeah, I am usually thinking especially of the totally unparalleled public school situation for high-achieving New York high school students.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 12:58 PM
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Anyone who wants a cheerleader child is welcome to come watch Nia's games next year. Or not, if we're able to get her to do something else that conflicts with cheerleading. She loves it and it's tumbling plus shouting, so two of her favorite activities, but ugh, the gender politics and nearly everything about it get really painful really fast.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 12:58 PM
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the main reason I encourage my kids to be weird is that I suspect cheerleaders and quarterbacks aren't really all that happy

Wait, do you think high social currency actually makes people less happy?

No one said not being weird guarantees happiness.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 12:59 PM
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I need to consult a John Hughes movie. BRB.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:00 PM
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I remember being so confused about why kids were awful, when it's so obvious now. Being raised by hippie atheists in a town of Catholics doesn't make for an easy childhood.

Eh. Other than being smart, my family was extraordinarily conventional (white, Catholic without being fanatical*, nuclear family of 4 with SAHM and corporate dad, &c), and I found kids to be pretty awful, to the point where I felt mildly suicidal from 4th through 9th grades. Other than crushing my native personality, there's really nothing my parents could have done to prevent me from feeling crapped on by other kids.

I'm sure there are kids who never experience that, but they're the exception, the ones who are socially adept (and/or not too sensitive) from quite young ages. The primary and secondary years basically consist of 80+% of kids crapping on each other, with a rarified few either exempt from the game for reasons that are unclear, or else only crapping on others without being crapped on themselves. I don't see any reason to think that I, as a parent, can help my kid escape the fate of the 80%.

Which isn't to say that I don't occasionally tell my kids that being more unconventional will lead to more teasing; I'm just also really clear that teasing will come no matter what, and they need to develop some skin thickness.

*for want of a better word; point being, I don't think anyone would have been put off by our level of religiosity


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:09 PM
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Maybe by "I encourage my kids to be weird" you just meant you encourage them to "be themselves, and not work to hard to conform"? In which case, sure. Of course.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:11 PM
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I certainly agree with 176, but I think the first point is hard to deal with without some awareness of unusually smart kids. It sounds nice to say you can get there in a uniform way for all kids, but I don't believe it.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:14 PM
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I don't see any reason to think that I, as a parent, can help my kid escape the fate of the 80%.

Usually, when someone says something like this, I say that not every middle/high school is a festering pile of interpersonal aggression, and coo over Sally's school. This time I'll mix it up a little by saying that conversations with her reveal that her grade particularly is a harmless place, but that the younger grades in the school are less pleasant -- Newt's not particularly having a hard time, but confirms that his grade has more interpersonal hostility than hers.

So, I dunno? But it doesn't seem as if it has to be that way?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:17 PM
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My uncharitable thought (not directed at anyone specifically in this thread) about people who flee 'failing' schools for their kids, is that they haven't actually done the due diligence on whether the school they're fleeing is actually going to be harmfully bad, and that mostly they're wrong to think it would be.

This, absolutely, and it's not (just) white flight, it's a general mindless tendency. I've mentioned before that my HS GF went to a neighboring HS that had this great reputation (IIRC it was sometimes listed as one of the best in NJ), but from my POV, knowing her plus a bunch of her friends, it was not distinctly better than my HS*, and SAT scores supported that. But families paid 10-20% more to live in that town, which was otherwise pretty much indistinguishable from mine (I'd add here that I only moved there before 9th grade, so I had no especial loyalty to the town or school).

Assuming that this is an analogy-friendly thread, I'd point towards Congressional ratings, where everyone hates everyone in Congress except for her own Rep. It's not that parents think their own schools are always great, but that they tend to assume that that Other School is a hellhole.

*among other things, AP classes were quite limited in participation, presumably in order to keep up scores; this obviously didn't benefit students in any obvious way


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:19 PM
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The primary and secondary years basically consist of 80+% of kids crapping on each other...

People who went to school with one of the Baldwin brothers probably boost that figure a bit.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:19 PM
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I had an old boss who went to school with the Baldwin brothers. Apparently their main characteristic as teenagers was a eerie degree of indistinguishability.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:21 PM
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From each other or from the student body in general?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:22 PM
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"oh, that guy with the crap on his head, right?"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:24 PM
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The main reason to send your kid to a fancy private school, speaking from experience, is so that you can hang out with character actor villains from TV shows that you like.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:26 PM
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not every middle/high school is a festering pile of interpersonal aggression

No, and it's probable that my elementary and Jr. HS weren't festering piles either, but kids picked on me, and it made me miserable. And I was hardly unique in being picked on. Because kids pick on each other.

I probably overstated it by using the (technical) term "crapped on", but my point is that it's a rare child who never experiences another child saying something hurtful, or being excluded from this group or that. That's just the human condition, but kids don't yet have the coping techniques to deal with it so that it doesn't become hurtful.

Iris is a know-it-all, both in practical terms of knowing a lot and in terms of personality. And other kids have therefore called her a know-it-all. That doesn't constitute a festering pile of interpersonal aggression, but it makes her unhappy, and I don't really buy that there are a lot of general population schools where being a know-it-all comes without any peer opprobrium.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:26 PM
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I'm sure there are kids who never experience that, but they're the exception, the ones who are socially adept (and/or not too sensitive) from quite young ages. The primary and secondary years basically consist of 80+% of kids crapping on each other, with a rarified few either exempt from the game for reasons that are unclear, or else only crapping on others without being crapped on themselves. I don't see any reason to think that I, as a parent, can help my kid escape the fate of the 80%.

I know I've said this before, but this wasn't my experience of school at all. I don't know if US schools are particularly awful, or if Unfogged runs particularly to a very particular type, or not, but things just weren't like that in the schools I went to.

There were the odd few people who were psychologically bullied [more among the girls than the boys], a couple of outsiders who struggled a bit, and a few violent bullies. But I'd guess that by far the biggest majority of people went through school without either the experience of being seriously bullied, or of feeling like a total outsider, or of being particularly crapped upon.

I'm not super socially adept, or particularly socially awkward, but I don't think I was a very outgoing kid, I was noticeably poorer than many of my peers, and I was probably no different from many Unfoggeders in that I was relatively quiet and bookish, so I don't think my childhood was charmed.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:35 PM
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My uncharitable thought (not directed at anyone specifically in this thread) about people who flee 'failing' schools for their kids, is that they haven't actually done the due diligence on whether the school they're fleeing is actually going to be harmfully bad, and that mostly they're wrong to think it would be.

I was having trouble believing over this past weekend that there were any parts of Marin County that could possibly be actual harmful schools.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:37 PM
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I never had a great deal of trouble fitting in despite being very bookish, but I never felt really comfortable until I discovered alcohol and tobacco. It's not exactly a lesson ready for an after-school special.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:38 PM
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- Not to be bored out of your skull (hardly just a problem for the super bright)

Two things: I'm not sure anyone's really come up with a widely-accepted pedagogy that keeps kids of average intelligence engaged by schoolwork*, whereas many/most gifted programs consist largely of... more/harder schoolwork. Like, gifted kids are bored because they're presented with 2 hours of learning over a 7 hour day, whereas "regular" kids are bored because OMG school is so boooooring with all the books and math and stuff. Which leads to the second thing, which is the sense that it seems like a damn shame to take kids who (as a group) love school and learning, and put them in schools where they don't learn much.

I know there's all sorts of other stuff about specialized learning and whatever, but to me it fundamentally comes down to the fact that no one thinks everyone in 12th grade should be taking the same math courses, so why do people get offended if kids in 3rd grade get some time in advanced math courses?

- Not to have to sit still all the time if you don't want to (often described as a way schools are bad for boys, but c'mon)

This, OTOH, has nothing to do with gifted programs proper, and has a lot more to do with parents who want (right or wrong) special treatment for their kids to try to get it through the available channels. IOW, little Aidan won't sit still because he's gifted, so put him in that program, and we'll expand the definition of "gifted" to include "fidgety" in order to make it happen. Obviously there are gifted kids who are fidgety, and gifted kids who fidget because they're bored, but my point is that there's no inherent relationship.

*Montessori and similar programs make claims in this direction, and may be right, but I tend to suspect self-selection


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:43 PM
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I found that fitting in was a function of what grade I was in, which was odd because it wasn't primarily kids in older grades who were bullying. Our schools were 3 levels (elementary, middle, high) and being in the older 1-2 grades at each level were the best socially. I remember in 11th or 12th grade some kid tried to tease me at lunch about a physical trait and everyone just looked at him thinking, "Dude, WTF are you talking about?" and he wandered away.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:44 PM
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196: It's probably just that Scots are all so congenial.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:45 PM
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So, our philosophy on Hokey Pokey: there's nothing to discuss until a problem arises, in which case our job is to brainstorm/support him through whatever is causing him stress. If he's not experiencing any problem, then there isn't one. So we haven't discussed it with him at all yet. (This concerned my dad greatly - Pokey needs to be warned that kids will tease him!)

The only incident that involved Pokey this weekend was that he was wearing a dress, and my brother said something like, "You're letting him go out in that? You're not making him put on boy clothes?" Pokey visibly flinched and hid behind Jammies' legs. Brother said something like "I shouldn't comment on other people's parenting", with an apologetic hand gesture.

We, uh, didn't actually discuss that with Pokey. By the time there might have been a calm moment to do so, it seemed unlikely to lead to a useful conversation.

(My dad brought it up after Pokey's bedtime, more than once. Besides the fear of social torment, there was a second fear: that we are fostering a scary sexual fetish by not instilling shame in him. Oh where to start, Dad.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:46 PM
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Like, gifted kids are bored because they're presented with 2 hours of learning over a 7 hour day, whereas "regular" kids are bored because OMG school is so boooooring with all the books and math and stuff.

i'm not convinced this is correct at all, but it certainly is snobby!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:48 PM
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re: 201

Civilising effect of violence, innit.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:48 PM
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I'm good at capitalization. And I'm sorry, that was unnecessarily snipey.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:48 PM
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Maybe you should worry that if you don't install a sense of shame, he won't get a sexual fetish and thus not enjoy sex as much as normal people.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:49 PM
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203: Sure. But since I've met literally hundreds of human beings, it doesn't strike me as being at all likely to be incorrect.

If you have clinical evidence that all kids learn at identical rates, by all means post links.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:50 PM
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Also, I wasn't claiming that the fidgety thing was about giftedness, but rather that it's frequently presented as a problem for one demographic subset (often, boys) when really the broader category of "children" are generally disposed to want to move around more than the standard schoolday currently allows.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:51 PM
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199.2: The girls' school just got a grant for a sensory room that will feature a fidget library where teachers can get occupational therapy-approved doodads for kids who need something like that to calm them. I haven't asked them about chew stuff since we haven't asked for official accommodation for Mara's pica, but I think this could be a really positive addition to the school population at large.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:51 PM
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Probably the best education policy outcomes would start with premises that don't hurt anyone's feelings.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:52 PM
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What would "clinical evidence" mean in this context?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:52 PM
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If you have clinical evidence that all kids learn at identical rates

That's not at all what I said. I disputed that the difference between "gifted" and "normal" children was a general like or dislike of "books and math and stuff."


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:52 PM
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207 and 210 before seeing 205.2.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:52 PM
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Well, I guess that's what I get for being antagonistic, but it really is pointlessly writing off huge swaths of humanity to cast things in those terms.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:56 PM
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I'm not sure which side of this discussion this anecdote is going to come down on, but I was both probably what people mean by a gifted child, and aggressively bored and annoyed by any academic work that I didn't immediately feel like doing, which was most of it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:57 PM
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I deeply enjoyed easy academic work and horribly resented people who tried to give me more difficult work to challenge me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:58 PM
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"regular" kids are bored because OMG school is so boooooring with all the books and math and stuff.

That is cast-iron snobbery, and rfts called it right above.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 1:59 PM
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Anyhow, to lay my cards on the table, I send my kid to a fancy private elementary school (though not even remotely the fanciest private elementary school in LA). Even though I think that this kind of private education is basically disgusting; private schools should probably be illegal. However, I feel caught up in a disgusting system. So let's go through an honest inventory of reasons for choosing the private school:

1) As I said above, "insurance against intergenerational class decline in case my kid's not actually that successful." I'm already doing my part for intergenerational downward mobility by generally being mediocre; but I at least want my kid to have something like the same advantages I've had, and part of that is relatively cushy schooling;

2) Inertia; my family has connections to the school, I have connections to the church that runs it, and it would be an affirmative, slightly weird move to insist on her not going there.

3) What could be reasonably, but uncharitably, be described as racism and class-ism. If she went to the local non-charter public school she would probably be the only white kid there, and almost certainly the only white UMC kid. Like any well-trained liberal of my generation I'd love some "diversity" (which, actually, her expensive private school has -- it's almost majority-minority) but making her be such a standout seems like a bridge too far.

4) Fear that dropping out of the educational-achievement rat race at this age will doom her to being forever out of it; while she's bright I have zero confidence that she'll be smart and self-contained enough for educational environment not to matter at all. Related to #1;

5) Fear that she won't do emotionally well in a really chaotic environment, although to be honest I don't have much knowledge of how chaotic the PS system really is;

6) Fear that maybe there won't be enough "opportunities" (vaguely defined) in the LAUSD. This is especially true because on available metrics the local public school is really, really bad, plus I know enough LAUSD teachers to know the horror stories;

7) Belief that there's not really much moral difference between going to a charter school and forking over money to go to a private school, plus the charter system seems like a gigantic PITA to figure out, so why not pick the private school if you're going to go charter.

8) The ability to feel like I'm one of the club when other lawyers or people of roughly similar SES ask me where my kid goes to school. I actually don't care that much about this one, but I care some.

I think that's about it. Ultimately I think many, or most, of these reasons are pretty contemptible but that's the fucked up system we live in and I engage in. Maybe my kid will get kicked out of the private school and then it will be problem solved.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:02 PM
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Derailing to speak of a different sort of cast-iron snobbery*: why the fuck does Le Creuset exist? It's not like enameled metal is rocket science. My discount-store $30 pot works exactly as well as the $200 one.

[*sorry, ttaM, the opportunity was too good to pass up]


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:02 PM
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211: "clinical" was the wrong term there. Probably going for "peer-reviewed".

212: But the first - and important - part of what you quoted was that gifted kids tend to be bored because they're being presented material slowly. When my classmates used to complain about school being boring, I never got any explanation out of them that was more sophisticated than "a general like or dislike of "books and math and stuff.""

I'm obviously aware that many people who find school boring nonetheless end up being big readers or history buffs or what have you. But my point was that the kids of average intelligence who are bored are not, for the most part, bored because the subject matter is being presented too slowly, and that the problem is a larger, pedagogical one. I don't know (and I don't know if anyone knows, which is what I said) if there's a way to give those kids a non-boring general education, but I do know that many/most highly intelligent kids will do better* in a standard classroom environment at a faster pace than they will in a standard classroom at a typical pace.

Gifted classes aren't a serum against boredom that we only apply to the most deserving 10%; they're a serum against boredom that isn't especially applicable to the other 90%, the bored of whom presumably require some different serum that may or may not exist.

*be less bored, cause less trouble, spend less time doodling spaceships in the margins


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:03 PM
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219: I was just saying this to someone! I have some Denby stuff that not only works as well as my Le Creuset stuff, but is just as pretty. And it's half the price.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:08 PM
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I'm already doing my part for intergenerational downward mobility by generally being mediocre;
Wait, doesn't that improve your kid's chance of being better than you?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:09 PM
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It's entirely possible that the whole system needs to be blown up, and that they actual solution would be grouping kids in very different ways that don't align with current definitions of special needs (at either end of the academic intelligence spectrum). There are very smart kids who don't do well in any traditional classroom setting, and kids of average general intelligence who would thrive in "enriched learning environments" that open up their particular strengths. I suspect that's the way schooling should actually be.

But in our actually-existing setup, it seems that we have an effective, broadly-applicable method of getting a readily-identified group of kids additional attention and education in a way that helps them while also reducing general classroom disruption.

I'd note that it's uncontroversial to give musically talented students additional musical education.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:12 PM
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That is cast-iron snobbery, and rfts called it right above.

I'm just trying to figure out what I'm supposed to do with the actual children I went to school with, and the adults that I've worked with, who have expressed in clear terms that subjects like reading, history, and math were inherently boring. Does a commitment to anti-snobbery require that I say they don't exist? Or is the objection purely the shorthand way I expressed it, and once we phrase it sensitively enough, we can get on with talking about students who are bored by academic subjects?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:18 PM
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I wish I had time to keep up with the thread. I mostly agree with 98, at least if the spirit in which it's intended aligns with the spirit in which I'm reading it. (That sounds like I'm hedging towards triviality but I don't think I am.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:18 PM
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The only enameled cast iron I want/need is the big Dutch oven, and I already have a perfectly good (albeit non-enameled) Lodge one, so I'll simply never have one, which is kind of shame, because pretty.

Maybe I'll give my pot to one of the kids when they move out, and take the opportunity to buy myself something pretty (and rather easier to clean).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:19 PM
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225: You're just showing off because all our kids are too young to have The Big Bang Theory based on them someday.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:20 PM
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226: Lodge makes a reasonably priced enameled one. Or did a few years ago. It was sort of a go-to wedding gift for me, unless I had to pay for shipping.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:21 PM
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It appears that the enameled stuff is now made in China but the cast iron without enamel is still made in the U.S.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:26 PM
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Hey, Denby is 50% off today, so that is something. (They have sales kind of constantly.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:28 PM
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224: I think the snobbery comes in when you identify all kids who wouldn't self-evidently qualify for a 'gifted' program as bored by or resentful of anything academic or intellectual. The specific type of kid you're being a jerk to is one who isn't the best reader, or the fastest at math, but is nonetheless genuinely intellectually interested in something.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:29 PM
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it really is pointlessly writing off huge swaths of humanity to cast things in those terms.

The point isn't to write them off; the point is that the "gifted class" solution isn't especially applicable to them, and so you need to look in other directions (as alluded to in 223).

The real problem is probably that we don't have any feel for which kids are actually being served reasonably well, and which are just muddling through. At least, I don't think we know that (I don't know how you'd go about testing/surveying). For all we know, schools as currently constituted only serve 10% of the population well, and another 20% get special ed of one sort or another, and the remaining 70% are being underserved in one fashion or another. As it is, it seems that half to 2/3 of kids are being adequately served*, and so there's enormous inertia.

FWIW, what I've always heard from teachers is that they try to get each student to do his/her best, and that they feel they can reach most of the kids in the middle, and that the ones being sent to special ed are the ones who are beyond their reach, whether because they need more specialized attention or because they need more challenging work. But teachers seem to think that they're not failing average kids who are bored - or at least not grossly failing them. But maybe they're wrong.

*that is, there's no clear evidence otherwise - they get their work done, they get passing grades, and they don't act out too much.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:31 PM
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It's hard for me to follow how Halford produced both 218 and 98.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:32 PM
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233: I think the key is a certain amount of self-loathing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:33 PM
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Right -- if he's not committed to believing that his own actions are commendable, there's nothing inconsistent about 98 and 218. I kind of approve of that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:34 PM
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My family's choices and circumstances have little in common with Halford's, but 218 neatly captures my ambivalence about the subject-matter of this thread.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:37 PM
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218 is really great, in a hello-my-future kind of way. We have some options ahead of us -- while the neighborhood school will definitely test us on Halford's #3 above, there is a neighborhood school just a few blocks away that is the envy of all, and if we can afford to move into its district in the next 5 years, we will. More likely, and a more positive outcome that responds to the same concerns expressed in 218, there are two double-language immersion schools within the public school system within a few miles of us. Neither is our neighborhood school, but both may have elastic admissions policies for our general area; more helpfully, a friend of ours helped set up one of them and another friend sends her daughter to the other. So we'll have social pressure guiding us into the public system, which is rare for whiteys in L.A.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:37 PM
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We were just given a Le Creuset enamel kettle as a gift. (This.) It doesn't seem to work any better than the other tea kettle we have, which cost 1/3 as much. It's also ugly, although I suppose that's somewhat subjective.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:37 PM
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I don't think we've ever used our tea kettle.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:39 PM
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We either just boil water in a pot or by microwaving water in a mug.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:40 PM
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Yes -- self loathing is the key. I definitely think that it would be better in some ways to send my kid to a public school, but I feel caught up in a system that makes that difficult. Also I really am not convinced that my kid will be an academic 1%er who will be fine no matter what, although it's still far too early to tell one way or another.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:41 PM
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You're all fucking snobs! Some children have never even *seen* a violation!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:43 PM
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242 tangentially to 153.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:44 PM
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5: SAT tutors who charge $35,000 per student.

I'd take that number with a pretty big grain of salt. Back in 2009-11, when I was tutoring for a living, I charged my SAT prep clients the same $50/hr I charged my other clients, and that certainly wasn't out of line with what other tutors were charging for that at the time. There may well be a program somewhere that is charging $35,000 to a very select group of students, but I expect that is very atypical, and probably covers a lot of services beyond just face-to-face tutoring. One of my clients was also working with some sort of organized program that had developed their own custom practice materials and assessments, for example. (I just used the College Board practice tests and whatever other review materials, if any, the client wanted to use.)

If you want a quick sanity check, go to Wyzant.com (the site I got around 3/4 of my clients from), look for tutors offering SAT prep (or SAT math, SAT reading, etc), and see how the prices vary in your area. I just did that, and I do see that prices asked have gone up quite a bit now that the tech recession is over and not so many unemployed engineers are competing for clients (not to mention more people having money to spend on their kid's education). Back then, the absolute highest I saw was $60/hr, and that was an outlier - now I see several tutors asking $60-100/hr.

A quick note about how that translates to actual income: the number listed is what the client pays (less any volume discount, which comes out of Wyzant's cut). A Wyzant tutor will get 60-80% of the listed amount as their gross cut, depending on experience, from which you need to deduct expenses. My expenses ran around $15-20 per billable hour, mostly in the form of travel to the client's home. I also found I was putting in around 2-3 hours of unpaid time per billable hour - travel, client communications, accounting, prep time, and the like. So from $50/hr, I would gross $30-40, and net around half of that, which represented around 3-4 hours work. Not terrible, but not exactly a "get rich in your retirement" plan either.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:45 PM
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Obviously your SAT scores were just too low.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:49 PM
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I had to wander off and buy real estate and then teach some brilliant, incredibly over privileged college students; is the premise now that public schools are fine for the genius children of UMC families but we should not judge those who are UMC but not geniuses for their terror that public school will allow their child's fundamental lunkheadedness to be revealed to the world?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:56 PM
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Also I really am not convinced that my kid will be an academic 1%er who will be fine no matter what, although it's still far too early to tell one way or another.

Not meaning to guilt-trip you here, but I think thinking of the kids who will be fine no matter what as the top 1% is overly restrictive. For kids with a safe, unstressful home life and comfortably literate parents, I'd think that "fine no matter what" would cover most of them, if "no matter what" were ruling out literally dangerous or physically stressful schools.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:56 PM
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I don't have any official announcements to make, but this has been on the minds of my wife and I (let's call her tigger). In the end, it'll probably come down to circumstances more than anything else - we might be able to afford private school if one of us starts making a lot more, moving to a better district isn't our first choice but is worth thinking about - but I'm feeling a lot less judgy about people who use private schools than I used to. Past elementary school, at least. We can all look down on people who do it earlier than we want to, right?

78
Pretty much everything that has gone wrong in my life -- the bitterness, the compulsive eating, the grudge-holding, etc. -- is due to that one teacher's idiotic decision to penalize me for errors on the part of the school system. I could have been anything I wanted to be if it weren't for her... Oh well. Wouldn't have met all my anarchist friends if she hadn't been so evil.

Funny how we accept the weirdest or most horrible things that happen to us because it's us they happened to. You grow up thinking whatever you have is normal. (78 is obviously not a great example of that, but the general idea is all over the place.)

Personally, my parents were thinking about moving when I was around 10th or 11th grade, but I wanted to finish school where I always had been, so they let me do so. In one sense I'm happy with my life right now so I can't complain about the choices that led me here, but in another sense moving to a bigger, better school earlier might have got me to an even better position in my life, or might have just got me to my current position earlier with less heartache on the way.

196
There were the odd few people who were psychologically bullied [more among the girls than the boys], a couple of outsiders who struggled a bit, and a few violent bullies. But I'd guess that by far the biggest majority of people went through school without either the experience of being seriously bullied, or of feeling like a total outsider, or of being particularly crapped upon.

Unfogged probably does self-select for this. But also, it's possible to avoid serious bullying and being-crapped-upon while still feeling like a total outsider. That describes me - no real enemies, just being too socially awkward and not having as many or as close friends as I'd want. Teenage angst is rarely rational.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:59 PM
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is the premise now that public schools are fine for the genius children of UMC families but we should not judge those who are UMC but not geniuses for their terror that public school will allow their child's fundamental lunkheadedness to be revealed to the world

I think that is in fact the reading of 98 that no one got the first time around. Well, to be fair, I think Halford is in fact saying "no, you certainly should go on and judge me," but that he is arguing that the latter group are really where all the action is and we keep not ever mentioning them in our conversations about this stuff.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:59 PM
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My personal sense is that in public school districts where some reasonable minimal percentage of the parents are engaged, and where the school is physically safe, any child of engaged, UMC parents is going to be fine.

I was pwned by LB, yes, sure. Here, let me add value:

I was actually being a little inexact talking about our new city; it has public schools that are not rated very well, but it has a large and ever-increasing population of VERY activist parents and is generally a well-governed place without anybody with nefarious plans to destroy the schools. If there is any city around here where 1. ratings are unlikely to tell the whole story and 2. things are going to be even better than they are now by the time Zardoz starts school, it's this one.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 2:59 PM
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Do we actually know that average bored students wouldn't like the material more quickly? My personal experience is that faster bouncier presentation with a lot of careful circling back and saying `so REMEMBER...' is the trick with the bored. I've only worked with high school and college students, but was also always teaching math to non-math students.

Also, startlement, people avoid *immigrant* kids to give their children better educational opportunities? I was sure sharpened up like whoa by USSR refugees as a kid. Much more competition than the second-generation professionals' kids when we moved to Snow Falling on Real Estate.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 3:03 PM
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- in fact
- in fact
- really

And I almost had that "really" as yet another "in fact." What the hell is wrong with me?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 3:05 PM
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Downward intergenerational mobility?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 3:06 PM
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UMC parents avoid schools with a lot of Hispanic immigrant kids.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 3:13 PM
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Surely the top 1% are at substantially more risk of not turning out well than the next 10-20%, right?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 3:13 PM
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253: the yoga pose invented for gen x and the millenials


Posted by: annelid gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 3:14 PM
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I am certainly secure in my knowledge of my own scintillating intellect, and no lack of accomplishment will ever disturb that self-image.

Mouseover text forever.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 3:17 PM
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I have several times heard from non-Americans that Americans are uniquely traumatized by their high school experience -- at least in my very limited experience people from other countries don't seem to remember this bullying/jock/nerd dynamic going on. In some cases (German friends) it may be because of school tracking. In others (Spanish friends) just a more easygoing culture. Maybe the U.S. is uniquely anti-intellectual, I don't know.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 3:19 PM
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Do we actually know that average bored students wouldn't like the material more quickly? My personal experience is that faster bouncier presentation with a lot of careful circling back and saying `so REMEMBER...' is the trick with the bored. I've only worked with high school and college students, but was also always teaching math to non-math students.

This is really far from my experience teaching math. Once students get lost, they get really, really frustrated, and I'd think a lot of students would not be able to follow along.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 3:20 PM
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258: Yeah, I think there's something weirdly toxic about ordinary American high schools/middle schools, although I'm not sure what it is. I think offbeat high schools tend to be less scary not because the students are innately special somehow, but just because they're not in the same pattern as the typical high school.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 3:28 PM
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259, Math is unusual in that regard. If you don't follow what the teacher is talking about, you might as well be on an alien planet watching the ritual harvest dance. In other classes you can at least understand most of the sentences, minus a vocabulary word or two.


Posted by: Cryptic bned | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 3:29 PM
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Also, I would question the level of Unfoggedetariat privilege. I rather doubt we have anyone in the top 2 percent ($300,000+ household income) who posts here regularly, although I might be wrong about that. In part that's just a matter of self-selection for midday blog procrastinators. But in general the class makeup of this place seems to be educational high achievers who go for midrange professional non-profit/academic slots more than gunning for high-level professional for-profit or business positions. That's a class that is under assault from government austerity and neoliberalism. Mostly still in the top 10-20 percent if you can put together two partners with such jobs, but correctly fearing that significant downward mobility is a real possibility.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 3:30 PM
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"I have several times heard from non-Americans that Americans are uniquely traumatized by their high school experience -- at least in my very limited experience people from other countries don't seem to remember this bullying/jock/nerd dynamic going on."

My bet is that the crazy competitive parents actually cut down on this dynamic a little bit.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 3:31 PM
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There is such a huge mismatch between the decisive collective action that could change any of these systemic problems, and the extremely complex contingencies of any one actor's situation, that I have no clue at all about the right level of discussion and analysis. But: at this point we will probably send our kid to the public school because we will never, never have any money. My life is easy! If we can stay in this unit and endure the new neighbor's smoking during the summer, the nearest school is decent.

Christ, I hope my daughter is more amiable than I was. I had such strong sympathies and antipathies, and would antagonize teachers I disliked to a degree that, I suspect, would not be tolerated in this low-tolerance, frazzled, resource-poor age. Maybe I should do penance by volunteering at the aforementioned nearby school -- they could probably use help with something or other.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 3:33 PM
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261: But clew was specifically talking about teaching math.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 3:34 PM
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But also, it's possible to avoid serious bullying and being-crapped-upon while still feeling >like a total outsider.

That was also me (or at least feeling like a notable but not total outsider).

Also -- a somewhat vague response to this thread (and to having also read the CT thread about argumentation styles and academic philosophy this morning).

I feel like not only does the conversation typically focus on the top (or bottom) end of the spectrum in terms of ability it also tends to overweight highly competitive educational environments. Just my personal experience, I had a perfectly decent education in public schools and decent small liberal arts college, but I never really participated in environments where there was particularly strong competition or academic status seeking. I did some competitive activities, like math team or debate (and was pleased to do well at the former), but they were clearly hobbies -- for myself and for most of the other people at whatever level I was at.

Whenever I read, for example, about the test-based NYC school admissions and all of the various rigamarole around that it just feels very remote from my experience. It's possible that the total impact on (the majority) of people in the system isn't all that big, but it's just outside my experience.

It's entirely possible that I'm the outlier here -- temperamentally I'm competitive only to a point, and tend to shy away from obvious status-seeking. I know it's common for school to be a real in which (high-achieving) people feel the challenge and opportunity to climb as high as they can.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 3:34 PM
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Mostly still in the top 10-20 percent if you can put together two partners with such jobs, but correctly fearing that significant downward mobility is a real possibility.

According to this 80th percentile for a single individual (in 2011) is $42K, and the 90th percentile is $65K.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 3:38 PM
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That sounds low -- is it distorted by the fact that single adults are disproportionately twenty-somethings?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 3:46 PM
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There's something going on, because at those percentiles the values for "Married Filing Jointly" are more than twice that of the single adult -- it maybe just that there's a tax advantage for high earners to file jointly . . .


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 3:51 PM
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However, even though I think that particular chart has problems, I do think it's worth remembering that the 80th and 90th percentiles for income are lower than one would expect. But let me see if I can find something better.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 3:53 PM
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For married couples from that chart, 80th percentile is 145K and 90th is 191K, which sounds about right to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 3:55 PM
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224: The kids I was identifying were ones who complained that school was boring*, but not because there was a lot of time being spent on material already mastered by the student in question.

*complained to the point of acting out, that is; my starting point was kids who were so bored by school that they were disruptive. Regular American school is boring at least part of the time to pretty much every kid, as are most aspects of life, including sports, summer vacation, eating, etc.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 3:57 PM
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267: I was using household income tables. For households top 2 percent is a bit under $300,000 a year, top 20 percent a bit over $100,000 a year.

This is obviously very age-dependent as well, people in their 20s or post-retirement are not at their 'true' income level. E.g. almost one-third of households aged 45-54 have incomes over $100,000, and about 10 percent have incomes over $175,000.

http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/cpstables/032013/hhinc/toc.htm


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 4:01 PM
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Alternatively, the 80th percentile is where I expect it and the 95th and 99th percentiles are gobsmacking. Also the 10th.

I've been either tutoring one-on-one, in which case one can circle back spontaneously, or teaching the `discussion sections' of math-heavy courses in an environmental science department. The math fear was common and the nouns and verbs were new. But still, I had some kind of birth-death-mating story to leap back to and translate the math results. (`n is zero? How many fish? OH MY GOSH THEY'RE ALL DEAD! We killed the fish!') I had the best results, both in student's reporting and not-totally-out-of-it test answers, from my bounciest lectures. Loved, feared, couldn't tell you.

`Discussion sections', hah, hand-holdy lectures. You expect the students to discuss and they get very sulky. My SLAC profs either left or went to sleep in discussion if we hadn't done the reading.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 4:02 PM
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How about this for income numbers. If you look at people with an income age 15-65 there are a total of 147.8M. Of those ~9% had an income over $100K. An additional 2.25% had income between 90K-100K and 3.2% were between $80K-90K. So 80K would be about 85th percentile for adult earners.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 4:03 PM
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272: Too true. Do you think it's innate to learning, or that more discipline or more constructionism &c. would fix it, or what?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 4:05 PM
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That sounds low -- is it distorted by the fact that single adults are disproportionately twenty-somethings?

You wouldn't think that would be true for the 99.9th percentile of single people, who nevertheless have 1/4 of the income of the 99.9th percentile of the married-filing-jointlies.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 4:06 PM
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I think that is in fact the reading of 98 that no one got the first time around. Well, to be fair, I think Halford is in fact saying "no, you certainly should go on and judge me," but that he is arguing that the latter group are really where all the action is and we keep not ever mentioning them in our conversations about this stuff.

Yes, this is exactly right.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 4:06 PM
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E.g. almost one-third of households aged 45-54 have incomes over $100,000, and about 10 percent have incomes over $175,000.

Looking at the table of people, rather than households (linked in 275) about 13.5% of people aged 45-54 with an income make over 100K. But the median income for that age range is still just $42K (the median income for 15-65 is just under 35K). I'm not going to calculate the 80th percentile, but frankly that's pretty depressing.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 4:10 PM
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Maybe the U.S. is uniquely anti-intellectual, I don't know.

Could be.


Posted by: Not Very Opinion Richard Hofstadter | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 4:23 PM
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that the latter group are really where all the action is and we keep not ever mentioning them in our conversations about this stuff.

Given the means, elite gonna reproduce itself in objective and subjective gated communities. I'm not really judging you. Elite of course creates a hierarchy of meritocracy, ever more rarefied, competitive. Aspirational is what elites do, almost by definition.

So I'd take all your money, take everybody down to 45k, income and assets, and reboot. Make it fucking impossible to materially compete. Elites will remain aspirational and competitive, let them work it out in egalitarian social arenas. A competitive common.

Ain't gonna happen. Instead, cannibalism is your future.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 4:28 PM
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I basically endorse everything in 281.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 4:32 PM
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re: 266
Just my personal experience, I had a perfectly decent education in public schools and decent small liberal arts college, but I never really participated in environments where there was particularly strong competition or academic status seeking.

Largely my experience, too. At High School, as in many Scottish secondaries, there was a Dux medal:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dux#Education

but it wasn't taken seriously by anyone. I don't even know if most of us knew how it was awarded.* Undergraduate, I can't remember any competitiveness or academic status seeking. At Oxford, yes, but that was largely about positioning to get jobs, and the usual philosophy thing about slaying your interlocutors.

* I didn't get it either. I've joked about this in the past. I'm pretty sure [but not certain] I did get it [on paper] but I _may_ have been considered a less good choice than the person who was awarded it, as I had told the deputy rector to fuck off to his face, mere weeks before.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 4:32 PM
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Dux confused me utterly in the school I taught in in Samoa -- until I finally gave up and asked, I thought they were calling the kid with the best academic record 'Ducks".


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 4:38 PM
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281: Ain't gonna happen. Instead, cannibalism is your future.

282: I basically endorse everything in 281.

Well... I guess long pig is still technically meat.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 4:38 PM
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||

Oh yeah:

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/02/rare-biblical-texts-from-bodleian-and-vatican-libraries-digitized/?smid=tw-share

>


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 4:44 PM
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I am stopped at a train track. The train stopped so that a train could pass it. Now the passing train has stopped as well. I've been sitting here for - no lie - 15 minutes.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 4:56 PM
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Right after I posted that everyone started doing u-turns to get out of there. Even a school bus.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 4:59 PM
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The very nice vet is staying open until I can get there.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 5:00 PM
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286. Sweet!


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 5:22 PM
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250 My personal sense is that in public school districts where some reasonable minimal percentage of the parents are engaged, and where the school is physically safe, any child of engaged, UMC parents is going to be fine.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 6:11 PM
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291: oh sure, probably. Do they still have those?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 6:29 PM
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Better article here with more on the actual project:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/03/vatican-bodleian-libraries-online-archive-religious-texts?CMP=twt_fd


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 6:30 PM
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Finally having caught up on the thread, it didn't raise my hackles the way a lot of conversations on school choice do. Probably because you all are typically more reasonable, or maybe less classist, than your median academic.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 6:40 PM
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For the record, 291 is essentially the OP, minus the violation.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 6:42 PM
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293: that is super-cool, ttaM. Many congratulations on some much-deserved publicity for what sounds like a remarkable project.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 6:43 PM
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286 and 293: awesome!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 6:45 PM
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Adding congrats to ttaM. Nice press & cool work.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 6:51 PM
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Cool!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 6:54 PM
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ttaM's news is cool. But what did Netanyahu think of it??


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:06 PM
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According to this article the top quartile for families with a high school senior starts at $120,776. The cutoff for the bottom quartile is $41,472. It's pretty safe to assume that if you excluded high school seniors living in a single parent home the figures would be significantly higher.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:19 PM
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Bad html, try again this article


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:19 PM
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300: Heh.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:32 PM
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Also, the site linked in 293 makes me want to learn what Greek letters mean in not-math.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:35 PM
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304: they correspond to sounds.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:35 PM
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So when I see "rho" I say, "rank correlation coefficient"?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:39 PM
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Yes it's a complicated language.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:40 PM
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I find it fun to pronounce the letters like the English alphabet letters they look like. Why did all the pre-Euro Greek currency say Apaxmee on it?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:48 PM
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What English letter does omega look like?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:52 PM
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w, obvs.

But "rho" is pronounced "energy density".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 7:56 PM
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w, obvs.

I forgot about the lower case.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:03 PM
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And in an effort to dominate the sidebar - the article is rather interesting, if depressing. It finds that high achieving bottom quartile students, defined as 90th percentile in ACT/SAT and 3.7 GPA or roughly speaking the top 4% of all high school students are very likely to apply to no high quality schools (53%) or to just one combined with local mediocre ones (39%). For high achieving students in the top quartile the figures are 11% and 25% respectively. One of the articles based on the same study had an example of some girl from Brownsville or some other decent sized place in South Texas who had been valedictorian, top one percent in her tests, numerous activities and was now a freshman at the local community college, having not applied anywhere else, assuming that she wouldn't be able to afford it. So she has a fairly generous scholarship at the community college instead of a full ride at an Ivy or equivalent. There was also stuff on how many of the no-loan financial aid schools have a deliberate policy of not making efforts of encouraging low income students to apply because those students are expensive.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:04 PM
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Sigh -- I just looked up statistics on what percentage of students score 3 or higher on an AP exam in each state. In Maryland it's 27.9%, in Virginia it's 25.6%, and in DC it's 6.6%. Ouch.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:19 PM
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Those aren't the good kind of statistics. The good kind has Greek letters.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:29 PM
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And in an effort to dominate the sidebar - the article is rather interesting, if depressing. It finds that high achieving bottom quartile students, defined as 90th percentile in ACT/SAT and 3.7 GPA or roughly speaking the top 4% of all high school students are very likely to apply to no high quality schools (53%) or to just one combined with local mediocre ones (39%).

Well, of course. High quality schools have high tuition.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:39 PM
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My big toe is stuck between two slats of my desk and I can't free it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:56 PM
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Free now. I had to use a pen as a lever.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 8:58 PM
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I hope that isn't why you're still at work.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:02 PM
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I'm at home. My work desk has only solid panels of the finest plastic-covered particle board.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:04 PM
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There are some vitamins you could take an enormous amount of without coming anywhere near toxicity. Our higher education system propagates the consolidation of wealth among the wealthy. It's hardly surprising, there are many exceptions -- top tier state schools do exist -- but it's a system which results in extremely rich people rubbing elbows with extremely driven people. The driven people follow the capital. There are exceptions. It can't be solved on a micro level -- there are some good parents with good children who will want to attend prestigious universities, even if there are other equally good parents who are less relentless. It can only be solved on the macro level.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:08 PM
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Is 320.1 to my toe? Because it doesn't even hurt now.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:13 PM
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I'll read the rest of the thread alter, but in case anyone cares, my daughter is fine. I lost a year off my life from the fright, but she is a hardy infant who can apparently tumble down stares with impunity.


Posted by: Sarabeth | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:14 PM
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Hooray, except out the fright.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:15 PM
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As my Dad said when I brought my baby over for the first time, "You can drop them all the time and they don't get hurt."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:18 PM
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Moby, your toe could have an enormous amount of vitamin c every day and be ok. Sarabeth, I'm glad your daughter is ok and sorry you had a fright.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:18 PM
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324: "Why you can counter most of the cognitive impacts by sending the kid to a private school when they get older."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 9:29 PM
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This thread raises a question: do kids still get bored in class? Aren't they too busy playing games on their ipads or texting each other or whatever it is they do these days?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:17 PM
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And anyway, soon they'll all be learning from MOOCs, so schools will be irrelevant.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:22 PM
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Arg, Google tells me someone else already had the idea of BOOCs.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:34 PM
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||

Haskell rewrite of Python script a complete success!

|>


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 10:58 PM
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Someone was trying to sell me on learning Julia.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 11:14 PM
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You'll find proficiency in a high-performance language for technical computing a great boon after you're denied tenure.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 11:31 PM
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Zing!


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 11:33 PM
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Being raised by hippie atheists in a town of Catholics doesn't make for an easy childhood.

It's considerably easier to be a raised by Catholics in a town of hippie atheists.

I was being horribly depressed as a teen, but high school was definitely a high point (did anyone else like school as a way to get away from family?) On the whole the kids, teachers, and admin were all pretty nice and it seemed like most people were kind of left to do their thing. There were groups of various types, but not much of a firm social hierarchy among groups and a reasonable degree of overlap and porous boundaries. I was the new kid at high school and a terrible dresser, especially the first two years. I remember a distinct moment of dread when I showed up *in the same outfit* as our 50 year old English teacher, but beyond her comment of "oh look, we're twins," no one else had any reaction at all. In middle school that sort of thing probably would have been social suicide.

And in an effort to dominate the sidebar - the article is rather interesting, if depressing. It finds that high achieving bottom quartile students, defined as 90th percentile in ACT/SAT and 3.7 GPA or roughly speaking the top 4% of all high school students are very likely to apply to no high quality schools (53%) or to just one combined with local mediocre ones (39%).

This is an issue where class is so much more than income. If you're poor enough Harvard et. al. will even pay you to attend. The top elite schools have the money to engage in noblesse oblige for the small number of ambitious lower class students they deign to let into their ranks. This knowledge isn't always advertised, and most people from lower class backgrounds see Harvard the way they'd see a yacht club, something incomprehensibly expensive and "not for their kind". Applying to an Ivy or similar requires a sense of entitlement that rarely comes with being raised poor. It's also the case that these schools are so rarified that they're willing to throw money at anyone not in the top quartile. I would say I've never been anything but middle class, and once I figured out to ask, I had gobs of money thrown my away, on top of generous financial aid. Since I've graduated, top schools have only gotten more generous. This is one of the many places where being low income and being poor really differ.*

*Also the culture of hanging around rich people. The biggest culture shock of my life was going to college on the East Coast and realizing not everyone was raised by hippies. I was fine because I considered myself to be generally of the same class, if not the same income level, as my peers. If I were working class, college would have been extremely alienating, even though my school tried its hardest to make family background irrelevant.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 11:40 PM
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Sarabeth,

Glad your daughter is ok. I've heard infant's brains are remarkably plastic and can recover from almost anything, so if there's ever a time to fall down the stairs with them, it's when they're tiny. I hope you're ok too. I was knocked out of a bassinet as an small infant and fell down the stairs lots as a small child. Of course, I'm in a PhD program and my siblings are gainfully employed in their dream jobs in competitive industries, so make of that what you will.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 12- 2-13 11:47 PM
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Also, the site linked in 293 makes me want to learn what Greek letters mean in not-math.

304: they correspond to sounds.

I really, really want it to be the case that this means non-verbal sounds; when physicists are talking to each other, they don't say things like "based on this dataset, rho is clearly correlated to omega to the power mu over theta" but instead "[HONK HORN] is clearly correlated to [ELEPHANT TRUMPET] to the power [SWANEE WHISTLE] over [DUCK NOISE]".

Something like the Victor Borge routine about audible pronunciation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lF4qii8S3gw


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 3:52 AM
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they correspond to sounds.

Totally different sounds in ancient and modern Greek, too.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 4:40 AM
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For instance, in ancient Greek, the sound "swanee whistle" was unknown, and is thought to have been replaced by something like a "soft warble".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 4:57 AM
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The ancient Greeks hadn't discovered the Swanee; they had to make do with the Acheron Howl.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 5:18 AM
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The ancient Greeks were so backward they thought Spearman's rho was how you got the boat across the sea.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 6:59 AM
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The ancient Greeks were so backward they thought Spearman's rho was how you got the boat across the sea.

They confused correlation and causation.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 7:10 AM
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I am so fucking sick of all the worrying about the brilliant kids here

hey, Halford drew the fire so I didn't have to. Meanwhile, can I confess I have no idea what a valedictorian actually is?

[perhaps we need a thread on elements of national culture one is ignorant of]


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 8:18 AM
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A valedictorian is the person with better grades than the salutatorian.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 8:24 AM
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can I confess I have no idea what a valedictorian actually is

Delivers the valediction. In many, possibly most, American schools, it is the highest academic performer... sort of.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 8:25 AM
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It's someone who gives a speech minutes before Boyz 2 Men's "It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday" plays on the school's PA system.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 8:29 AM
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I always love when people say "I will never forget my four years here at Eastside High." I know what they mean, but I always want to heckle "ACK! I lost ages 14-18! I have no idea what I was doing because my high school wasn't special enough."

(I did actually attend an Eastside High. Isn't that so hardluck sounding?)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 8:38 AM
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At most schools, it is a guy who goes on to start his own company building lawn care machinery.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 8:38 AM
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347 to 345, mostly.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 8:39 AM
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The valedictorian at my high school was one smarmy motherfucker. Whose GPA was higher than mine by a fraction of a percent because he went to some expensive summer thing in France that got him extra credits.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 8:45 AM
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It's funny how the old high school resentments about things that I realize are completely meaningless still somehow rankle when I think about them, like there's a decade-plus-old emotional state somehow queued up to be replayed.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 8:47 AM
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Did he sell his lawn care machinery company to investors before he turned 40?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 8:47 AM
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350: I'm not resentful. Just ruminating because the 25th is coming up for me. I was the one with the (relatively) wealthy family. But I did get beat by something in the second decimal place on a 0 to 100 scale.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 8:49 AM
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All I can tell from Facebook is that he now lives in Brooklyn and likes to photograph himself with many different styles of facial hair.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 8:51 AM
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You could do the same, at least with the facial hair. Unless you're of one of the beardless ethnicities or have a sense of taste.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 8:53 AM
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I got beat for valedictorian by I think less than two and a half points of GPA.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:01 AM
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And that was out of four, too. It wasn't one of those crazy schools where you can get a 4.8 GPA or whatever.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:01 AM
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At my school, we were all such special snowflakes that we didn't have a valedictorian, because encouraging us to compete with each other would have been unfairly harsh. The girl who had the highest GPA was thought of as vaguely uncouth because she studied.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:08 AM
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I wonder how I would have done with the reverse valedictorian? Obviously they can't hand that out like an award but somebody must have known.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:11 AM
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In college those of us in the trombone section of the concert band (7 players I believe) were chatting before a performance and determined that we we all valedictorians. I guess that admissions office claim that they could have an entire freshman class of valedictorians might be true.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:11 AM
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357: If you didn't have a valedictorian, how did you know who had the highest GPA?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:12 AM
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They throw everyone in the lake and see who floats the longest.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:13 AM
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358: Don't they do that at the Naval Academy? "Class Goat"? Or is that West Point?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:25 AM
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those of us in the trombone section

I played trombone in high school, but wasn't in the running for valedictorian. My teenager is currently barreling toward valedictorian status, but went the varsity athlete path rather than the band nerd one. I suppose I'll manage to keep the illegal-drugs-and-alcohol edge over him, though that seems like not much of an achievement now.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:26 AM
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Maybe he could get someone pregnant?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:27 AM
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"Want to see my tromboner?"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:28 AM
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There's a bad spit-valve joke that I just can't find.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:31 AM
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I only graduated from high school because the assistant principle either took pity on me or, more likely, decided that keeping me around for another year would shorten his life expectancy. Weird guy, Mr. Trost, but he probably should be a pivotal figure in my forthcoming memoir.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:32 AM
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I'm sure I've previously told the story of my math teacher coming up to me at the prom and excitedly telling me I was going to get a D, and this could graduate, which was particularly special since I had no idea I was at risk of not passing.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:34 AM
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I was, I'm pretty sure, two or three classes short of the graduation requirement. I failed French -- my first language -- junior year and AP history my senior year. I can't remember what the third class would have been. Anyway, Mr. Trost worked some sort of magic that allowed me to move on to smaller and worse things, which was a great kindness.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:37 AM
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Your first language isn't English?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:39 AM
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368: I wanted a dance, but I was too shy to ask.


Posted by: Opinionated Math Teacher | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:40 AM
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Oh wait, I failed French -- again, my first language -- twice.

Anyway, a few years back, while visiting the Cleve, I saw Mrs. MacDonald, my AP history teacher, at a grocery store. I chirpily said hello (as I am wont to do). She eyed me warily and, noting that wasn't wearing an orange jumpsuit, decided it was safe to ask me what I was doing with my life. I explained that I was a history professor. She looked crestfallen and wandered away muttering to herself.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:41 AM
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370: nope.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:42 AM
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Real French or the Canada kind?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:42 AM
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Well, wait. First language doesn't mean the language one is most comfortable with, right? It means the language one acquired first? If that's the case, then no, English isn't my first language.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:43 AM
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I acquired my French covered in gravy.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:44 AM
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Does Cleveland have a French Quarter or was it just your family?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:45 AM
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359: My research group in grad school was like that. All the American guys were national merit scholars, all the Canadians were polite.


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:46 AM
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I was born in Montreal.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:46 AM
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Considering how close it is to where I've been living the vast majority of my adult life, I really don't have much of an excuse for knowing nothing about Cleveland except the serials killers/kidnappers and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:48 AM
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379 to 378 and 377.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:48 AM
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379: That might explain why you have trouble in high school French.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:50 AM
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My brother took music his senior year of high school. He pretended he'd never seen a piano and plonked along like a struggling beginner all year long. In March, his high school piano teacher bumped into his real piano teacher, who said something like "You must know Brother Geebie! Isn't he great at piano?" High school teacher was so furious that she wanted to fail Brother Geebie. In which case he wouldn't have graduated. Somehow my parents caught wind of this and came in and a solution was hashed out: that he would prepare and play some complicated Gershwin or something at the end-of-year recital. Brother was about equally mortified as his teacher had been, so all was squarsies.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:50 AM
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380: it's totally worth a visit planned around a symphony concert. Severance Hall is lovely, the orchestra is as good as its reputation, and tickets are relatively inexpensive and easy to come by. Plus, the city has a great (well, very good) -- and typically empty -- art museum, some interesting neighborhoods, enough good restaurants, and several of the very finest unfogged commenters.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:52 AM
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When I find myself trying to work out what the national merit scholar-to-valedictorian ratio must average out to, it probably means I should get back to doing real work.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:52 AM
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383 is apalling


Posted by: Annelid Gustator | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:52 AM
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387

Do I need to wait for your memoir to get the story of how you failed AP History and later became a historian? Or can we get a summary here?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:52 AM
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it's totally worth a visit planned around a symphony concert

It might be, if I liked symphony concerts.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:54 AM
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383 demonstrates a level of commitment to ne'er do welling that was entirely incompatible with my high school apathy and anomie. I mean, I could never have pulled off such a ruse. Then again, I guess your brother couldn't either.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:54 AM
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I mean, I can buy a CD of a symphony concert and get all the enjoyment of listening to a concert plus the extra enjoyment of being able to play solitaire and drink beer at the same time.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:55 AM
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I had a friend who pretended he didn't know German, so he could have 4 easy A's fullfilling his language requirement in college.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:58 AM
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387: I got to university; discovered that I liked learning if nobody told me that I had to do homework; found myself in class with some great profs, some of whom were historians; and decided that their lives looked pretty good. The rest of the story consists of the toast falling butter side up over and over again.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:59 AM
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393

I don't really know why he didn't just take painting or violin or something where he was genuinely a beginner.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 9:59 AM
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390: it's Cleveland. You're allowed to play solitaire and drink beer during the symphony concerts.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 10:00 AM
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395

That seems like more trouble than it's worth. Aside from the wasted time, if he ever wanted to get a job where speaking German was a requirement and they looked at his transcript, they'd think something was up.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 10:00 AM
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396

395 to 391.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 10:00 AM
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364: He does have a serious girlfriend now, so the opportunity is there.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 10:01 AM
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[excited trombone sound].


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 10:02 AM
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the assistant principle

We'll let this slide, since you aren't commenting in your first language.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 10:02 AM
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397: It might be easier with a frivolous girlfriend.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 10:03 AM
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401

But surely in college you still had to do homework? Or am I not understanding how your AP History class worked.

(AP Histories are the only two actual school classes I took, and I don't remember it being all that different in requirements from a college course. You had to read the text, you had to read another book or two, you had to write papers, you had to take tests.)


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 10:04 AM
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395: It worked out fine for him. He was smart, but obviously very lazy.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 10:10 AM
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403

Employers look at college transcripts?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 10:15 AM
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They always ask for them. I didn't look at the ones of the people we hired, but I always assumed somebody did.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 10:17 AM
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My high school had two history options for sophomores, World History or AP European History. The former was taught by a woman who basically viewed teaching history as a chance to tell stories and have fun, the latter by a man who would tell people their only chance to avoid failing the AP exam was to work their asses off for an entire year and write two AP-exam-like essays a week. So I took the World History class, enjoyed it, and then read a couple of books on European history the week before the AP exam and got a 5 with no difficulty. The AP students' reactions when I showed up to take the test were really amusing.

Uh, I guess that doesn't even count as a humblebrag. Sorry.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 10:21 AM
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406

Do AP exam scores go to 11?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 10:26 AM
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407

You're thinking of Apgar scores. You're acing your Apgar score, Mobes.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 10:27 AM
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408

So the guy in the lab coat telling me that my color looks good isn't just a random racist who wandered into the office?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 10:28 AM
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I think you lose a point every time you get stuck in a desk, but maybe that's only the AP Apgar test.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 10:37 AM
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383, your brother sounds like "Waverhouse" in Soseki's I Am A Cat.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 10:41 AM
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411

Apgar scores go to 11?!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 10:42 AM
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412

They must not have told you so you didn't feel embarrassed about your kid's score.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 10:42 AM
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(Googling) oh good it doesn't. Don't worry, Zardoz, nobody can take delivery room valedictorian away from you.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 10:49 AM
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414

Zardoz got a ten? The nurse told us nobody gets a ten.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 10:51 AM
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415

412 to 414.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 10:52 AM
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Did your baby get stuck in a delivery room desk too? Maybe there's a genetic risk factor.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 10:56 AM
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I only got 4's in AP History, similarly I never got above an A- in a paper-based class in college. I still don't really understand why. The grades didn't bother me, as I was perfectly happy with mix of B+ and A-, but overall it's a little annoying that I don't have any understanding of what the difference is between an A humanities student and an A- one.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 10:57 AM
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As far as I could tell my grades in Hum and Soc in college oscillated between A- and A depending mostly on whether the professor agreed or disagreed with what I was arguing.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 11:03 AM
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419

There may also have been an inverse correlation with the length of time I spent writing the paper.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 11:04 AM
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418: My grades on such papers oscillated between Fs and As depending on whether I wrote them.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 11:05 AM
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OT: If a real estate listing doesn't have pictures of the basement, that means there are monsters or something, right?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 11:05 AM
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422

And people say the University of Chicago doesn't have grade inflation.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 11:06 AM
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421: I know someone who bought and a house and then was told a previous occupant buried their dead baby in the basement.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 11:06 AM
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-and

Time to go teach my last class of the semester.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 11:07 AM
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425

423. But somebody dug it up, right? It wasn't still there?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 11:09 AM
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426

If it was listed as an inclusion, they'd have to leave it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 11:10 AM
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Plus, the city has a great (well, very good) -- and typically empty -- art museum,

I used to live in Cleveland and I loved that art museum. With almost no one else there, it was like having your own private art collection. I guess I'll go see my Picasso now! It's neither the greatest nor I suppose the emptiest art museum in the world, but it might be the greatest near-empty art museum you can find.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 11:11 AM
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428

I enjoyed Cleveland when I lived there (it hadn't yet acquired it's current "creepy serial killer and kidnapper central" reputation at the time). In addition to the art museum there's a surprisingly wide range of good restaurants.

The trouble for visitors is that downtown really is a barren ghost town and the interesting neighborhoods are scattered all over the place and not easy to find if you don't already know where they are.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 11:17 AM
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current "creepy serial killer and kidnapper central" reputation

:(


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 11:18 AM
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I like crowded art museums because then you can follow the crowds to be sure you've seen the good art.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 11:18 AM
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current "creepy serial killer and kidnapper central" reputation
Just when it was getting over its river-on-fire reputation. I went to a recuiting talk where the recruiter from Cleveland said that he basically hates the place, but the low cost of living keeps him there. Apparently, his home is listed in magazines as one of the Top # homes. It was not a very good recruitment tool. (Quote: It's not as nice in terms of culture and food as say, a New York, or a Paris, or even [long list of cities], but well, it IS cheap.)


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 11:27 AM
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418: I did get A's on individual papers when the grader agreed with what I was arguing. But sometimes I got A- even if they agreed, and if they didn't agree I got B+'s. So I think there was some second dimension here as well.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 11:30 AM
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Our former president used to get mad that faculty and staff don't live in Sadtown of Heebie U, but commute from other towns. (Which I do.) She didn't want to give the impression to potential candidates that Sadtown is such a sad town. Keep polishing that turd, I said. This town is so sad that I pass a hand-painted terrible-handwriting scrawling sign chastising the town for having schools in the bottom 10% of Texas.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 11:30 AM
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I mean, it's no Cleveland, but still.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 11:30 AM
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I definitely miss the low cost of living. What's a few serial killers here and there when the housing is so affordable?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 11:31 AM
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You know, I get where people are coming from with this agreed/didn't agree thing, and I am absolutely sure that grader's prior opinions on the argued point do come into play in a major way, because that's how people work -- but part of the "agreed or didn't agree with what I was arguing" effect is actually a "was convinced or wasn't convinced by what I was arguing" effect.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 11:33 AM
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that grader's

"the grader's," that is.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 11:34 AM
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I'll always think of Cleveland as the home of Pere Ubu. And the Dead Boys. But mostly Pere Ubu.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 11:37 AM
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"agreed or didn't agree with what I was arguing" effect is actually a "was convinced or wasn't convinced by what I was arguing" effect.

Only if you're a sufficiently sophisticated writer, right? I don't know what standard to hold high school students to, and certainly those above were smarty-pantses, but I can imagine the instructor having a wildly clearer understanding of the material such that "being convincing" is unobtainable or dumb luck.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 11:38 AM
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Fair enough, without essear's prompting I would have phrased it as "bought my argument." That said, it wasn't at all clear to me that there were substantial differences in the quality of my arguments between the ones that the grader bought and the ones that they didn't. I certainly couldn't predict it in advance.

At any rate, what I find confusing is why my good papers where they did like the argument still usually got A-'s. I suspect it had less to do with the argument, and more to do with the writing. Or maybe something subtler like not having enough interesting tangential points? Or maybe not engaging enough with the secondary sources?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 11:40 AM
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The trouble for visitors is that downtown really is a barren ghost town and the interesting neighborhoods are scattered all over the place and not easy to find if you don't already know where they are.

This happens with visitors to Pittsburgh as well. They keep thinking "downtown" contains something other than office buildings and people waiting for the bus. Is this unusual?

Go to any other neighborhood but downtown. Any neighborhood at all. It's not even a neighborhood. Nobody lives there.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 11:49 AM
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I feel as though this post title really ought to be about a JG Ballard novel, or something like that.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 12:01 PM
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But how do you randomly pick a neighborhood if you're in town, say for a conference?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 12:01 PM
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443. Type the word "coffee" into Yelp or a queryable map ?


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 12:05 PM
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441: There's been a lot of new condos and apartments put in. The residential population of downtown is up quite a bit.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 12:07 PM
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441: Sacramento is just like that. Downtown is just for workers. There's not much there, once you've walked around the capitol.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 12:20 PM
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The last time I read anything about this (ten years ago?), about half the residents of "Downtown" were living in a couple of SRO hotels that were originally established for drug rehabilitation. Then there's the super-elite apartment buildings that overlook the rivers, and...


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 12:21 PM
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The jail, of course.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 12:31 PM
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More seriously, they've recently done a bunch of conversions from office towers to apartments and condos. There has been some new construction. Most of it is expensive by local standards, but not all.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 12:35 PM
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450

Here's a recent news article.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 12:37 PM
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It's about a Giant Eagle, but if you read to the bottom it says "Downtown residences grew by 1,020 units since 2010, Waldrup said. That brought the number of housing units in the Golden Triangle to 2,311. The neighborhood's population stands at about 3,000, he said. Developers are planning 967 apartments and 18 condominiums, he said."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 12:38 PM
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I just found out that somebody turned the old church near my office into apartments. They want $1,800 for a two bedroom.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 1:01 PM
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452: That answers some of my question about what's happening to old churches there! Our friends ask for something similar (equal to or greater than our mortgage, at least) for the renovated church apartments they have, and wtf? But people rent them.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 1:04 PM
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This church wasn't very church shaped. It was a church/school combo where the school auditorium was supposed to be a temporary church. The actual church never got built, probably because they only had 80 years before the parish closed.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 1:06 PM
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428, etc. -- I enjoyed Cleveland fine to live in, because a borderline UMC salary basically makes you rich. Live in a mansion, tickets to anything, unlimited nice restaurants (and the restaurants really are pretty good -- as good as DC or maybe even better when I was there. It's an eating culture, as you can tell by checking out the populace). And if you're tired of the place you have plenty of discretionary income for cool vacations. The airport isn't crowded either!

When I was there it was a rare period where Cleveland sports teams were actually pretty good (age of Lebron, the Indians flirting with the Series), which added a lot of pleasure to the 'tickets to anything' aspect. But the general miserableness of Cleveland sports, which has now resumed, just really seems like God piling on.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 2:11 PM
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But it seems pretty clearly the case that Pittburgh>>Cleveland. Sorry, Cleveland.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 2:12 PM
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Cleveland > Erie, I assume. If that helps.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 2:16 PM
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Also, Youngstown.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 2:19 PM
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Who's to say what church-shaped means?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 2:19 PM
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We'd all like to flee to the Cleve and club-hop down at the Flats and have lunch with Little Richard, but we fight those urges because we have responsibilities.


Posted by: Opinionated Jack Donaghy | Link to this comment | 12- 3-13 2:45 PM
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Anyhow, for those who argue that "kids of UMC parents will be OK no matter where they go to school," I think my son's experience may sound a cautionary note. I do think he was potentially harmed in his college choice by going to a high school where his peers were generally not expected to apply to selective schools. I'm still pissed off about a screwup his high-school guidance counselor made, although it may have turned out for the best for completely unrelated reasons. I think we have been able to mitigate several of the consequences for him (a poor kid in his position would have likely been well and truly screwed over for life by that screwup), so there is certainly UMC privilege operating here. But that doesn't completely erase the negative consequences.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 12- 4-13 9:12 AM
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Tell more of the story? He ended up going to local community college and dropped out? He's 27 and a fry cook? He's 24 and a petroleum engineer? What did the guidance counselor do or not do?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 4-13 9:20 AM
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462: Short version is that the guidance counselor's screwup cost my son a nearly-guaranteed admission to UC (California, not Chicago). Probably not Berkeley (they only guarantee you admission to some UC, not necessarily your first-choice campus), but he was also interested in Santa Cruz, which is a perfectly good school. I'm sorry, but if you are a high school guidance counselor who is advising students about college, I think it's your job to know *all* the admission criteria to the flagship public university in your area, not just the ones that apply to 95% of the students you send there.

The main reason I'm not more pissed and/or raising holy hell about the screwup is that my son wound up at the local state college, where he was able to get into the first year of a pilot program to support kids with Asperger's, and has been doing quite well there with their support. So he may have wound up at the best place for him, after all (thanks to some more UMC privilege - we only found out about the program from a fellow band mom who works in the administration over there, and the program has been mostly parent-funded to date, and is still trying to get outside funding to support less economically-advantaged students).

That, plus the guidance counselor is a nice guy who genuinely liked my son, which makes it hard to stay pissed at him personally. But I think he and the other advisors had my son pegged as "probably going to the local community college," and didn't take his aspiration to go to UC seriously enough to research how he could have legitimately gotten in.

More details later, I think...


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 12- 4-13 4:34 PM
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