National Reputation?So my mother-in-law mentioned tonight that the governor in Michigan is considering using NC as a model for an educational change because she's heard that NC has "great public...

National Reputation?

So my mother-in-law mentioned tonight that the governor in Michigan is considering using NC as a model for an educational change because she's heard that NC has "great public schools."  I teach here.  North Carolina doesn't come up on my personal radar as one of the top states with excellent public schools... but it did get me thinking.

Off the top of your head, if you were asked, "Which states have the best public schools in the US?" which would come to your mind first?

I actually would say Washington state and Michigan.

Asked on by clairewait

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

In reply to #2: California does NOT have good public schools. I have taught in several different areas of the state. Although the upper middle class schools might be acceptable, even the Blue Ribbon schools seem to be lacking in terms of actual teaching. The No Child Left Behind laws just made it worse.
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scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I grew up in Michigan and graduated from high school there and currently teach in South Carolina (which certainly is not in the running for top educational states!). Because of Michigan's dismal economy, it makes sense for them to move toward a countywide district structure. They have already had to close down so many schools as it is and combine them, that the switch might work (the only problem is that superintendents and others at the district would lose their positions, but many of them already have because of the economy). I doubt that anyone would admit to this, but the union in Michigan has contributed to many of their economic woes associated with education. So much so, that young graduates from University of Michigan are heading down here looking for teaching positions because none were to be had in a unionized teacher state.

That being said, I do think that the quality of education in Michigan is one of the highest in the country. I did attend a rather small high school, but the teacher retention rate was excellent at that time, the high school exams were much more difficult than what we require for our exit exam in South Carolina, and the high standards seem to be met quite consistently across the state. I've also looked into a lot of information about Maryland's schools, and they seem to be on the right track when it comes to raising expectations and increasing their AP pass rates without narrowing their AP programs to "typical" AP students.

Here in South Carolina, we have a hodgepodge structure. I teach in the largest district which is a countywide one, but the counties to the south, northeast, and southwest of us are divided into small districts. It's more expensive, of course, to run those smaller districts, and the differences in structure make state-level decisions more difficult.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I've been teaching in Iowa for more than a decade--you know, as in Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS).  We have, or at least had, one of the highest national rankings in the country for several criterion.  The fact is that, nationwide, the school districts in big cities have all the same kinds of problems, as do those smaller, rural districts.  What seems to me to make the difference are what I'll call the "suburb" districts--those which surround the big-city system and are able generally to provide a better (more expensive) education with a more committed and cooperative population base and more advanced opportunities.  The more of those a state has, the better off it is, it seems to me.  Any imbalances show up in the achievement and dropout stats pretty obviously.  

 

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copelmat | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

I would think it would be exceedingly difficult to generalize all schools in an entire state. As stated above, too much depends upon the local community and the attention and focus devoted to education at the local level.

That being said... In terms of student achievement and performance, our best measuring stick is the NAEP which is the only assessment that samples students from all 50 states. From the results, it would appear that Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts should perhaps top our lists.

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martinjmurphy | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

I work in a California school and I would not list California as a state with the best schools.  California has been going through a horrible fiscal crisis for the past two years and this has been reflected in educational spending.  The state has cut spending for education by $17 billion the past few years.  This has meant larger class size and a reduced school year.  This year in my district there will be 5 less school days.  Students in my district will only have 175 school days, and there has not been any summer school or enrichment programs here for 2 years. I don't know what other states are like, but California is a mess.

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hustoncmk | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

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Having lived in, and evaluated educational standards in, at least six states, New York would rank pretty high.  This is not to say that every school in the state is excellent, but as a state, the standards there were the highest of any ofthe other states.  I know that the state I am in now, has the least impressive standards of any of the states I have been in and also has a close to 40% homeschool rate. 

I know my daughter went to a college in Ohio and was told by three different professors that she was the best freshman writer they had ever scene.  She credited it all to her English teachers from her NY middle school.  We have since called the school & passed the compliment on to the principal & the two English teachers she had there.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I must admit I have to agree with #5 - even within states there are going to be significant differences in terms of schools based on neighbourhood, but I always feel that a good teacher will make it work for them whatever the context. Also, the motivation of the kids is so important too - they are able to surprise us as teachers more often than we give them credit for. I guess every state education system has its ups and downs - it is up to us as teachers to work creatively within those.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I have been working for the College Board for the past twelve years or so, running weekend workshops for AP US teachers.  What I like about this the most is that I get to talk to history teachers in different states all over the Western Region.  Some states seem perpetually in crisis in terms of funding, such as California and Oregon.  They have great teachers, but cuts in the schools force them to look for work elsewhere.

I was impressed with what I saw in Colorado,. though that was two districts in the Denver suburbs, so I don't know if that was representative.

I think Washington State treats their teachers well in terms of pay and benefits, so their teaching population seems more stable.  There are a lot of quality schools across the state, but of course we have our share of troubled areas and duds.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

You know, I am all for competition and high standards.  The point of the matter is, that college is not for everyone.  I don't disagree with National Standards, but on the other side of the coin, doesn't it imply that the individual states aren't capable of driving kids in their states to success?  This is exactly why we had a Civil War...the national government infringed upon the rights of the individual states to run their own areas of the country according to what was right and best for the citizens of those states.  Why does California have to do what Georgia is doing or vice versa?  The kids who want to go to college--regardless of where they attend high school--will get there.  Those who want to farm, go into the military, or go straight into the workforce will do that.  I have taught in six states (KY, AZ, FL, NC, MS, CA--all of which have pretty good school systems in spite of some of the really bad neighborhoods some schools service) and in South Korea...the standards are pretty much the same everywhere.  Some kids will rise to meet them, some will surpass them, and some will succumb to them. 

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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Nationalized education is just another mark that takes away states' identities and abilities to develop their own standards for their students, but truly all colleges desire similar qualities in their students. I hate that in education we re-create the wheel 50 times before we realize that we can use someone else's work in our own classrooms. I think this is what national standards will do. I have read them too and they are very close to what I have seen in all three of the states with whom I have worked.

In California and likely New York (although I don't have personal experience there), students have to work hard to compete for spots at top school. Their large company bases also drive home for students the need to get into spectacular colleges. Kids in po-dunk America don't get that. I have taught there too. In suburban Idaho, students are content with a high school diploma and maybe a shot at a Junior College. That is the big time.  I agree with California, but after being there I have seen some bad ones too...

clairewait's profile pic

clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I would argue that New York and California are pretty strong, but they also have the population to make it so.

The true reason that Michigan is using NC as a model is because 48/50 states are moving to National Standards. The Federal Government has waved the proverbial carrot promise of 800 million dollars to any state who correctly implements and executes the standards they have come up with. The standards are fantastic; they thrive on process-model learning, and the foundations of the CollegeBoard. The only two states who are choosing to remain out of the drawing are Alaska and Texas; they are firmly holding to the concept that education should be a state-level mandate.

actually I was referring to Gov. Granholm's plan to move from a school system organized by district into one that is organized by counties.

At any rate, to me, it sounds like a plan to re-draw the lines so that test scores appear to spread more uniformly throughout the state.

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kristenfusaro | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted on

I would argue that New York and California are pretty strong, but they also have the population to make it so.

The true reason that Michigan is using NC as a model is because 48/50 states are moving to National Standards. The Federal Government has waved the proverbial carrot promise of 800 million dollars to any state who correctly implements and executes the standards they have come up with. The standards are fantastic; they thrive on process-model learning, and the foundations of the CollegeBoard. The only two states who are choosing to remain out of the drawing are Alaska and Texas; they are firmly holding to the concept that education should be a state-level mandate.

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mathteach01 | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

I worked in North Carolina for 2 years and moved back to my original state of New York to teach.  OK so here is my straight up opinion.  North Carolina, very easy to get a job, New York, very hard to get a job right now... Why do you think that is??? North Carolina used to be third to last in the country in terms of education until it started to increase their attention in education to become globally competitive, they are still trying to get there. New York is already there by electing to use the Regents examinations.  California used them too and elceted to drop the use of them some years ago.  New York's students are coming out more globally competitive because of this special regents diploma and can be accepted virtually anywhere for college.  What I do not agree with is making it mandatory, which has just recently happened.  When I went to school there was an option so those "po-dunk" like children who just wanted to go into a trade could just graduate with a regular diploma.  Now it's kinda forcing those kids to drop out of high school because the pressure is too much.  You have to take and pass something like 7 Regents examinations to receive this diploma.  It was tough and not all kids can do it.

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