More on Local Schools

A further thought on local schools  101010
Fringe On Measure C

Some folks have suggested that local kids would be better off traveling to a school in another county because larger schools have better everything.  They have better teachers, better science labs, better computers, better everything because they have more money.

Here’s the glaring error in that logic, which these folks would know if they’d paid attention in whatever substandard schools they might have attended.  It isn’t the amount spent per school, it’s the amount spent per child that impacts learning.  A larger school might have better computers, but that doesn’t mean it’s easier to get on a computer.  They might have better labs, but there is a whole universe of physics and geology and math and biology that you don’t need a lab for; city kids travel to see nature the way our kids see it on the way home from school.  Lasers are cheap.  Most high dollar experiments can be viewed on an ordinary computer, even a Mac, it doesn’t take supercomputers.  Far too much can be made of “economy of scale”, which phrase actually means that every scale or level of analysis has it’s own advantages.  

Large schools do have more money, but they also have more competition.  Having a kid get the best grades in Loyalton might actually be better for getting into college than the third best grades in Portola.  In terms of getting into college, I’m dubious that graduating from Portola or even Grass Valley is going to mean more on an application than Loyalton.  “Oh, you went to PORTOLA!  Of course you’re welcome here at Harvard.”

It also hasn’t been proved that big schools have better teachers, or that kids in big schools get more teacher attention.  The opposite might be true, which is why people who attend community colleges in classes of 30 get a better education than first year students at a university where there are hundreds in a class, and all the work is graded by “student teachers”.  

It might also be possible that our kids don’t have to compete with the Japanese at everything.  It might be there is nothing wrong with being intelligent and motivated in other ways.

Finally, for most of our kids, include the fact that they have to ride the bus, increasing their “school day” and decreasing their day in other areas, like family and homework.  

I think there are far too many variables to suggest that going to an out of county school would be “beneficial” for local kids.  I’m going to suggest it’s part “the grass is always greener” and part “here’s a justification for me not to pay for kids: it’s for their own good.”

In fact, the argument actually makes me realize we still aren’t spending enough on kids; maybe we should write a bond for the whole $12 million and give our kids first rate schools, instead of sending our first rate students to other schools.

In closing: nah nah nah nah naaah nah. 

If we want our kids to be super smart, we'll bus them here, to California's very largest high school, Belmont, in Los Angeles

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