Educating Kids In The Suburbs

Educating Kids In The Suburbs, compare to Educating Kids In NYC.

I did the suburbs growing up, and told myself "as fsm is my witness, i'll never go burbs again!". Yet here we are in Barrington Il.

The school district covers 72sqmi, and has 1 High School (with 3000 students!), 2 Middle School-s, and 8 Elementary School-s. The Boys' Middle School is a 20min drive each way, but luckily they have a School Bus that comes to the neighborhood, and even an "activity bus" that brings kids home after standard activities end (though this doesn't cover "meets" for various groups that finish later than the standard time).

The big plus is that the Public School-s are "excellent" (grading on the national curve) - paying 3 Private School tuitions in after-tax dollars is a huge suck.

The downside is that, like all Public School-s, they're driven by the Standardized Test Curriculum.

In Elementary School there's an awesome TAG program for 3-5grades, but that serves only 15 kids per grade across the entire district. 2010-09-13-BarringtonTagSnapshot

  • For kids that don't quite make that cut, there's pull-out classes for math and reading.

In Middle School they have honors ("extended") tracks for Science and "Language Arts". For Math, students can end up 3 years ahead (and a couple genius kids in the past were moved up even more)! So The Boys are in the same Algebra course (not the same class/teacher), because Number One Son is 1yr ahead, and Number Two Son is 3yrs ahead. There's also an "extended art" class elective which you have to submit a portfolio for!

  • but, unlike the Elementary School TAG program, honors classes are just faster/advanced classes teaching the same material the same way.

The Middle School-s are packed

  • incredibly skinny lockers, forget about changing out of winter boots
  • students aren't allowed to bring backpacks into class rooms! I'm not sure this is because stupid people trip over them, or because it encourages kids to bring in cellphones, or what.

The Foreign Language teachers tend to be locals who spent only a couple years in the Foreign country. So you get Fargo French. And in Middle School they only have foreign language for half the year, having short electives (tech-lab, home-ec, drama, etc.) the other half-year.

The music program is excellent. They seem to have more Orchestra students than Band students. At the High School there are multiple levels of bands and jazz-bands. The orchestra pushes students to get private lessons right from the start (though I don't know how many actually do so).

  • On the other hand, if you want something unusual you're on your own. The Boys' jazz-piano teacher drives from near-ChiCago, because there's nobody comparable in the county. (Yes we are compulsive.)

Kids specialize by the time they're in Middle School. So it's hard to sign a geek-kid up for any after-school physical activity.

2012 District technology usage

  • cellphones must be left in lockers
  • only school-owned computers can access the WiFi
  • Wikipedia use is discouraged
  • they're continuing spread of White Board-s
  • they have some pilot One To One programs
  • at least they're embracing GoogleDocs

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