Thanks for your thoughts everyone. Annikate - I don't think you hijacked - I think what you shared is totally part of the discussion. I get so frustrated with all of the negativity and all of the focus on the scores - it seems an extension of so many other things that I just don't get lately.
The funny thing is that we don't even live in a "poor" area (nor are the schools/scores even bad)....we are in a Washington, DC suburb. Plenty of the suburbs around here are more affluent, but more than the majority seem to have more problems with poverty, crime, under-performing schools, etc. I just get the feel that with so many options - nobody will ever feel like where they are is good enough. One of my former co-workers bought a house that cost over a million dollars and found out that several of her neighbors are trying to bump-up!!!
I do understand what some of the posters are saying about this problem not being part of the culture in a small town -- I graduated from a high school in rural West Virginia. There was one public school in town and no private school options and this wasn't an issue, which was nice. On the otherhand, the school really sucked...I know that this isn't true in every rural community, but the school had some real problems. For instance, in AP English we read and were tested on a Stephen King book & my brother and I never once took math from a math teacher with a degree in teaching math....the guidance couselor actually tried to talk me into taking cooking instead of biology two because "let's face it, you'll use it more"
So, on some level, I guess I like the options and the urban influence, but sometimes am unclear what everyone is so frantically pursuing.
Hope that makes sense - thanks for all your thoughts and feedback - I sometimes feel like I am on Mars when talking to the mainstream people around me about these issues
Barney & Ben