Day Twenty-One: High School Bragging Rights

I hope I'm not the only one who notices that high schools often brag about themselves ceaselessly in an attempt to get more kids to attend their schools. This makes sense for private schools and prep schools such as Andover, Exeter, Lawrenceville, Deerfield, etc. who actually make money from students who attend their academies. Similarly, for day school and parochial schools, bragging about recent accomplishments whether in athletics, academics, or simply from the amount of scholarships available (since money is a very effective motivator), is a well-known and well-worn strategy for conjuring more students, and thus more income.

However, there's been a trend going on for public schools and magnet schools to brag about their worth. I understand that the better schools with better kids get more government benefits, especially when former President Bush passed the No Child Left Behind Act. However, the intense competition is the entire issue I'm against.

Schools have a economic benefit from being successful. They make more money from the government, which comes in the form of tax payers' money. They, in turn, can pay the staff more, purchase better equipment for the students, invest in better facilities, educate the teachers, etc. All of that is made possible by some convoluted laws that the government decided to institute quite a while ago.

And yet, all of this is only making things worse. We already have kids worrying about their college applications. I've heard elementary-age children complain that they have nothing yet to slap onto their college resumes -- as if any colleges would wish to look at elementary-school qualifications! (With the current trend of schooling, however, I wouldn't be overly surprised to find colleges adopting that as the norm in a few decades.) There is just so much more competition and it's making everyone antsy.

Growing up in a Chinese family, I can advocate that tiger parenting does produce better children in the end. By teaching your kids that the world is hard, and only the best survive, they will learn from the start to fend for themselves. That's pretty much how my own life was lived. I was taught to be a maverick, to be independent and take my own lead, and to not listen to what other people told me (so long as it was in the negative sense.) My parents did manage to raise me pretty well, which is why I can send off these nasty vibes to the competition of schools.

In my state of New Jersey, there is an annual report that grades the public schools in the state by qualifications. Matriculation rates, student-teacher ratios, satisfaction, and standardized test scores all determine which schools emerge at the top. My school has routinely been nominated to a Blue Ribbon School (a high-ranked school often receives rewards, which translate to benefits later on.) They never fail to remind us of this fact at every school function we attend. It drives me insane.

Why can't people learn to just let things pass? So long as teachers are dedicated and students are learning, not everything should depend on rankings and scores. Schools are a place for learning, and each child should have the right to pick their school based on the quality of education they will receive, not the amount of awards the school has garnered over the years.

Breakfast: Banana, Toast, Hardboiled egg
Lunch: Salad and Greek yogurt with cinammon
Dinner: White rice, salad, grilled chicken
Snack: Figs

Observations: I noticed that I haven't been too detailed about the stuff I eat lately. That's because I enjoy privacy. These are about as vague as I could make my meal plans sound without totally going out and saying "I had food for breakfast, food for lunch, and food for dinner. Oh, and more food for snack." Now that I think of it, that does sound a bit suspicious. Anyway, all I have to say is that I'm onto my twenty-first day without fast food, junk food, and the like.

The main problem I've been encountering is the distinction between junk and good food. If ice cream is sugar-free and non-fat, is it still junk? You would think so, but what if its nutrients rival that of yogurt, which also has the added disadvantage of a higher calorie count? Then there's the fact that granola bars have loads of sugar yet everyone advocates them as health food.

Basically, I'm making my own intuitive decisions about this. Now that convenience is gone, eating intuitively has been quite a challenge. Anyway, compared to the rest of my family, I now find that there's really a big difference between fast food eaters and healthy eaters. There's a reason they call it fast food. These days, I have to spend an uncanny amount of time preparing meals and it's really eating at me. Well, there's still about seventy-nine days to go!


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