Academics in Winton Woods School District

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I had the opportunity recently to attend a Winton Woods Student Achievement Committee meeting. It was informative.

It seems that the Board, the Superintendent, parents and concerned citizens are seriously trying to turn things around. No one has any illusions that positive change will be easy but all agree it is necessary.

One disturbing fact surfaced. It seems that the Spanish Language instruction is two years behind other schools. The first and second year Spanish students use only Book One of the Spanish books and the third and fourth year Spanish Students use only Book two of the Language course. THIS MEANS THAT WHEN STUDENTS GRADUATE WITH FOUR YEARS OF SPANISH, THEY IN REALITY HAVE ONLY TWO YEARS INSTRUCTION.

This was confirmed by a parent who had a child that went through 5 years of instruction in Spanish in the system, but when she went to college, the placement test placed her only at the elementary level.

The Superintendent was very disturbed with the information.

It also begs the question as to whether teachers in the system have been sand bagging other courses. If so, the students are being short changed.

I feel at some point in time there will be positive change for the better, there is a lot of public pressure for it.

In the mean time, it appears that in many courses , the system will have to play catch up before it can go ahead.

Cicero

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Posted · Report post

I had the opportunity recently to attend a Winton Woods Student Achievement  Committee meeting. It was informative.

It seems that the Board, the Superintendent, parents and concerned citizens are seriously trying to turn things around. No one has any illusions that positive change will be easy but all agree it is necessary.

One disturbing fact surfaced. It seems that the Spanish Language instruction is two years behind other schools. The first and second year Spanish students use only Book One of the Spanish books and the third and fourth year Spanish Students use only Book two of the Language course. THIS MEANS THAT WHEN STUDENTS GRADUATE WITH FOUR YEARS OF SPANISH, THEY IN REALITY HAVE ONLY TWO YEARS INSTRUCTION.

This was confirmed by a parent who had a child that went through 5 years of instruction in Spanish in the system, but when she went to college, the placement test placed her only at the elementary level.

The Superintendent was very disturbed with the information.

It also begs the question as to whether  teachers in the system have been sand bagging other courses. If so, the students are being short changed.

I feel at some point in time there will be positive change for the better, there is a lot of public pressure for it.

In the mean time, it appears that in many courses , the system will have to play catch up before it can go ahead.

Cicero

Cicero,

Your statement is probably false. What grades did this student (in question) earn in Spanish? It is possible that she only earned a "D" the whole way through and.. yeah.. that would be about right. Please don't just throw comments out there. The Supt. didn't have the whole story either.. I'm sure.

But as long as we are in the neighborhood.....

You might want to ask about the turnover in the Winton Woods School District. At the HS alone, we are going to lose 14 teachers (and two counselors) this year and only one is due to a retirement. This is close to 25%. In fact, you might want to ask what the average years of WW experience will be next year. Why do you think that is? In other districts, they are losing about 10-15%. Part of the issue is the lack of backing that they receive FROM FAMILIES for trying to put forth high standards.

When is the next meeting of this committee? I think that more than a few teachers will attend and set the record straight about Spanish and anything else that "concerned" parents have. I think that what you will find is that some of our parents SAY one thing in these community meetings, but then say ANOTHER thing to their child's teacher. Trust me my friend, I've been here a long time. Most teachers just keep their mouths shut about and "grin and bear it".. that is about to come to an end.

For example.....

We used to set a passing grade at a 70%, but cries from the community (probably the same concerned parents in that audience) demanded that we change the grading scale because our kids were losing out on scholarships. We get all kinds of grief FROM PARENTS when we take cell phones from students texting or having conversations with them in class. Should I go on?

I think you are about to open up a can of worms that will actually be pretty easy to refute. Teaching staff won't stand for it and will have no problem setting the record straight.

I am very pro-WW, but if you are going to level accusstions about the teaching staff, be ready to back it up. Some of our families want it both ways. I know that we are trying to pass a bond issue, but these claims will be answered. I have already forwarded your comment on.

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Posted · Report post

WW doesn't have the higher grading scale any more?

My kids' grading scale is the higher one and I wouldn't have it any other way. It pushes them more to strive for that A at a 93. it does help them prepare for tougher courses in high school and after.

Is that wide-range grading scale pretty widely used in other districts as well?

I can testify that the tougher grading scale does make students work harder. It's a shame the district had to lower the scale because parents complained.

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The statement regarding the Spanish Instruction was factual. Whether you like it or not.

I understand that there may be Statewide tests in language instruction either next year or the year after. If that occurs it will be interesting to see how Winton Woods students fare.

Many schools have a problem with student turnover, but still maintain standards.

The teacher turnover in the Winton Woods School system is significant this year and we will just have to see how that pans out. On the positive side, it may be an opportunity to hire new quality teachers that are not burnt out.

If the system is to move forward, people, including teachers, must acknowledge that a problem exists. Denial of a problem is not a solution, but part of the problem.

Cicero

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Posted · Report post

Quit blaming it on the teachers and put it where it belongs, on the ahole parents who don't care about anything but themselves and a free handout.

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The statement regarding the Spanish Instruction was factual. Whether you like it or not.

I understand that there may be Statewide tests in language instruction either next year or the year after. If that occurs it will be interesting to see how Winton Woods students fare.

Many schools have a problem with student turnover, but still maintain standards.

The teacher turnover in the Winton Woods School system is significant this year and we will just have to see how that pans out. On the positive side, it may be an opportunity to hire new quality teachers that are not burnt out.

If the system is to move forward, people, including teachers, must acknowledge that a problem exists. Denial of a problem is not a solution, but part of the problem.

Cicero

Relating a second hand comment from a parent who made a comment in a meeting is " fact"?? This one comment; therefore, extends to the entire population of Spanish students at WW?? Wow! This is a very broad stroke and one that you can not support.

Intentionally promoting false conclusions do not benefit nor create the solution as how to improve the education for our students. Instead, this type of false, negative statement feeds (mis)perceptions of the school district and are taken as "gospel" for sincere families wanting the best for their children; pushing them away instead of inviting them to participate as a positive force. Chasing away families and students who are actually thriving with fearful. distorted statements that are not factual is a huge disservice to them and equally destructive to our community as a whole.

To me, this is one of the most destructive reasons and a caustic behavior that further fuels a self inspired drain of families who would make a positive difference and strengthen the education for all.

I would add my suggestion for academic improvement and this would be to employ a more effective classroom management program to address a HANDFUL of students in SOME of the classes who selfishly disrupt and impede the instruction for the majority of students who want to learn.

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Posted · Report post

The statement regarding the Spanish Instruction was factual. Whether you like it or not.

I understand that there may be Statewide tests in language instruction either next year or the year after. If that occurs it will be interesting to see how Winton Woods students fare.

Many schools have a problem with student turnover, but still maintain standards.

The teacher turnover in the Winton Woods School system is significant this year and we will just have to see how that pans out. On the positive side, it may be an opportunity to hire new quality teachers that are not burnt out.

If the system is to move forward, people, including teachers, must acknowledge that a problem exists. Denial of a problem is not a solution, but part of the problem.

Cicero

Cicero...Did you speak to one Spanish teacher? Do you know her grades? Did you see a transcript? No. I am sure that if one of the teachers were there, that claim would have been dealt with. Sadly, we can't tell you those grades because that would be a violation of law (obviously).

I can cite many examples of students that place out of one or two years of Calculus because of their AP scores. I know that a number of our students earn dual credit for classes taken here. Many of our students have taken those same Global language tests and DID place out of languages in college. BUT, those students probably earned "A"s or "B"s the whole way through WW. We don't discourage students from moving on in Spanish because they didn't earn an "A" or a "B" in the lower levels. It is just like those that take four years of Math. We are not saying that they will place out of UC's test if they only "just passed" here. I'm sorry Cicero. You don't have all the facts... neither do I. I have forwarded this on to the Global Languages staff and will post any response that they give... right here.

-----

As for turnover, this is the statement that is ALWAYS made by school administrations. "We have a great opportunity to hire quality teachers". What else can they say? The problem is, Cicero, those quality teachers don't usually stay. A number of people that left were doing great things here and were "the better teachers" that we thought would be the answer to all of the sloth and laziness from 2010 and 2011. In 2017, we will probably replace them as well unless we come together and walk the walk.

Dave Bell (who just retired) was here since the early 80's. Would our fine arts program be what it is today if, back in the 80's, they said "AH.. music teachers... let's get someone better".

We can agree that consistency has merit, right?

How is WW going to retain all of these "better" teachers to replace all of the lazy bums that left? Forget money. How is the community going to support "high standards" other than to go to the new Supt. and complain? The burnout that I see at WW is that the walk doesn't match the BIG TALK. Do you honestly think that everyone that goes to college (and struggles) didn't struggle in HS as well? Why did they struggle? Did their teachers bend to pressure to make life easier for them? We want high standards but don't want to make life THE LEAST BIT uncomfortable for the students or their families. Did this esteemed committee talk about that? What did they say? What were their solutions? I'm sorry. I see this every year. Parents call up and complain that the test wasn't "fair" or that it's the teacher's fault that they are failing multiple subjects.

See, parents have a lot of sway on what they want a school to look like. Our brass just responds to what they want. The problem is when they go off to UC.... they have no influence and THEN they want to blame Winton Woods.

You told me that my child was smart.. and now he is doing poorly in college.

Grade inflation? Pressure to get you that scholarship?

Don't get me wrong, we aren't happy about that. We put a lot of time (some of it unpaid believe it or not) teaching this student. We must do better (as do all teachers). BUT.. it's like dieting. If you don't follow the doctor's advice and stay off the Big Macs, it is not her fault that you don't lose weight. Same with school. Are teachers allowed to be honest anymore?

Cicero, you pay your taxes and that really is the extent of your obligation to me. BUT, I think that you really should find out what is REALLY going on in the trench. Perhaps you should seek out a WWHS teacher and ask them some questions. We don't "short change" anybody.. but I would agree.. that many of our students aren't working to their fullest potential.

Other than firing everyone, how do we go about fixing it?

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Posted · Report post

Is that wide-range grading scale pretty widely used in other districts as well?

I can testify that the tougher grading scale does make students work harder. It's a shame the district had to lower the scale because parents complained.

Many schools are doing away with the 70% as the lowest passing grade on their grade scale. What they found is that it was hurting their students when applingf for college and getting scholarships. On the higher scale the lowest "A" is a 93%, but on the traditional scale the lowest "A" is a 90%. However, when converted to a 4 point grade point average it can negatively affect a student's grade point. In school A a student has 92%, which is a B and only worth 3 points on a 4 point scale. In school B a student has 92%, which is an A and worth 4 points on a 4 point scale. They both work hard for their grade, but because school A used the higher passing grade, that student ends up with a lower GPA.

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Many schools are doing away with the 70% as the lowest passing grade on their grade scale. What they found is that it was hurting their students when applingf for college and getting scholarships. On the higher scale the lowest "A" is a 93%, but on the traditional scale the lowest "A" is a 90%. However, when converted to a 4 point grade point average it can negatively affect a student's grade point. In school A a student has 92%, which is a B and only worth 3 points on a 4 point scale. In school B a student has 92%, which is an A and worth 4 points on a 4 point scale. They both work hard for their grade, but because school A used the higher passing grade, that student ends up with a lower GPA.

This is why WW followed the lead of so many other schools. But is this a decision that was made with "high standards" in mind? No. But, the thought was that tests would be made harder to reflect the grading scale. Then the parents started to complain. My child shouldn't be getting 89's.

I would argue that there is NO correlation between a grading scale and student achievement..

However, there is also no correlation between this process known as "Student Learning Objectives (SLOs)" and teacher quality either. This is what that famed educational reformer, Governor John Richard Kasich is pushing. More teaching to the test. State ratings based on contrived test with imposed growth targets. Forget 21st century skills.....

It is punishing teachers for taking a chance in districts that have struggled academically... the very places that need the best teachers. Where do you think it is easier to get a "year's worth of growth"? Mason? Withrow? Indian Hill? Hamilton? (Note: Hamilton also lost a lot of teachers this summer as reported by WLWT). It used to be true (as recently as when I was hired) that the school districts in Hamilton County paid the most. This is no longer true as the tax base continues to erode. In two years, Bass Pro Shops will be off of Northwest's tax rolls and on Lakota's... for example. Lakota teachers benefit. We notice those things.

Instead of making the lives of those that come here more difficult Cicero, perhaps the effort should be on making clear expectations known to all...with appropriate follow through and support. Ohio schools are going to face a real crisis very soon.. how is Winton Woods positioning themselves to capture these "better and more energetic" teachers to replace those tired old bums that are leaving? Is that a fair question? We can always find somebody to fill the slot... we can't always find someone to fill the shoes. This place will be in my obituary when I die. I don't want to see it fall into disrepair from the inside or the outside. I don't think any of you do either..

I get it though. Easier to blame those lazy teachers in a community forum smile.gif I know that I often blame the police for crime and my dentist for my cavities.

How is that working out for us?

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Posted · Report post

The proof of the pie is in the pudding. The standards in the Winton Woods School district have been falling for years. The system did not become a "Cellar Dweller" academically over night. A lax administration as well as issues with the quality of many of the teachers was a major problem.

Let us not try to blame everything on the parents. Every system has to deal with problem parents, and the Winton Woods System is no exception. Most of the parents in the system do care for their children and are responsible.

Students are in school at least 6 to 8 hours every week day and during that time they are under the control of the teaching staff. There are a good number of professional dedicated teachers in the system, but unfortunately there appeared to be too many that were not productive.

Hopefully that is starting to change.

In regard to the Spanish Instruction, I have heard from someone in the administration that starting next year, the first year students will use the first year book and finish it in the Freshman year, and the second year students will use the second year book and finish it in the second year. There will be no more spending two years on one book. That I feel is a positive step in the right direction.

Paula, it is a "fact" that a parent did make the statement in question and the Superintendent ,who was present, brought the subject up regarding the Spanish instruction being a problem and that Spanish students in the past have spent two years on one Spanish Book that was designed for one year of instruction.

This is an inconvenient " fact "that I believe the Superintendent will address before the next school year begins.

I hsve stated before, denying there is a problem, is not a solution to the problem.

Cicero

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Posted · Report post

The statement regarding the Spanish Instruction was factual. Whether you like it or not.

I understand that there may be Statewide tests in language instruction either next year or the year after. If that occurs it will be interesting to see how Winton Woods students fare.

cool.gif I find this interesting. My oldest son is entering his junior year at Miami as an Education major with a minor in Spanish. He took Spanish at WW from intermediate school on after we moved to the district. He is minoring in Spanish because in his quest for scholarship $$$. He tested at Miami pre-freshman year and earned significant $$$.

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Thanks NOS.

Anybody can do well in the Winton Woods City School District if they apply themselves properly. They only limits are self-imposed.

The problem that our district has is NOT people like Christine and Cicero that go to a community message board to point out our sin day in and day out.

The problem is that we have too many people (not just here) that believe that they are entitled to a great education simply by showing up and not doing what is required. This applies to students and parents alike. They want the trophy before playing the first game of the season. I'm sorry. We aren't ever supposed to say that.

Why can't we?

Sure, our profession is always looking at ways to improve our delivery to "reach" students. I know that I have spent the better part of a decade sitting in meeting after meeting discussing that very topic. Sure, we have had a few bad teachers working here over the years. We know who they are. Trust me, Winton Woods School District is pretty good at running them out on a rail. WW has also seen a lot of "great and creative" teachers go out the door as well. Let's not deny that.

How is all of that working out for us?

How will it work for Winton Woods in the future?

How is that we have students that actually DO go onto college, work hard, and earn advanced degrees? They allowed themselves to be pushed and they took full advantages of what was put before them. They didn't make a million excuses or run to a community forum complaining about being "short changed". When we called the house about their student falling behind, they acted. They didn't call their mother in the middle of a class to complain that the teacher's evaluation of their test was unfair.

In other words, they "owned" their education.

That makes the difference. I am willing to bet that, at St. X., R.B., etc. most.. if not all.. of the students "own" it. I've read their codes of conduct and would (again) love to adopt some of their provisions at Winton Woods. "Justice Under God", etc.

Why don't we?

Great question for the next forum, wouldn't you agree?

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Posted · Report post

A new day must be dawning. I actually agree with Equalizer relative to the attitude of many students and their parents that "they only have to show up , but do nothing, to get their diploma."

This is an attitude that must change and it should start from the top down. That means the Board of Education and the Administration. I feel most of the current Board and the Superintendent are serious about turning this attitude around.

The teaching staff also has a major role, the staff should not put up with insolence and disrespect from students. The Administration must back up the teachers on this.

If the system is going to turn around it will need a "Full Court Press" by all involved.

Cicero

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Posted · Report post

Evidently the schools have/need to take on the responsibility of instructing children at school about courtesy, responsibility, respect and plain self worth. They sure as hell aren't getting it a home. I never see this changing, It is now expected to ask and get or the right not to have to work and get. This is ingrained over time and will not change. I give all the credit in the world to our teachers having to put up with today's youth. I could never teach now without a big switch close by. The situation is just a shame, not here, but everywhere.

I'm gone

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The problem that our district has is NOT people like Christine and Cicero that go to a community message board to point out our sin day in and day out.

The new superintendent publicly pointed out the "sin" in his Community Meeting a couple of months ago. That was more than the past superintendent, or Board ever did. Acknowledging the truth is a step in the right direction. Those who supported Nasbe and the direction of the Board did the; district, our communities and these kids a huge disservice. I left that meeting with some faith, however if the focus remains on brick and roofing material, his message will be wasted. I encourage the parents who send their kids to the WWCSD to demand more than simply concrete. I think this guy may be able to deliver something more. if given the opportunity. Having Cassady by his side told me a lot. Keep him focused on what matters.

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I don't think Mr. Smith is really focused on the brick and mortar. Those focus groups pre-dated him. Aside from one famous GH resident who was pretty vocal (and I like this guy by the way), most of the audience was supportive of building new buildings. I actually thought that the GH forum was much more supportive than the FP one.

As for what parents should demand, I would make another observation. I notice that there is a lot of talk about what we should do to make this school better. Rarely, does this discussion even involve any input from the teaching staff. Perhaps this is because we don't want to say anything that might make the brass look bad, but I also think that this is part of the problem.

A lot of us want to stay here... but we have some work to do.

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If teachers are afraid to make suggestions because they might make the "Brass " look bad, it is a sad reflection on the Teachers Unions.

Work conditions and environment are certainly legitimate topics for and labor/ management discussion and protected under both Federal and Ohio Law.

If teachers feel that they have legitimate constructive suggestions to make regarding improving the academic environment at Winton Woods Schools they or their representatives should feel free to make them so that they can be discussed. This would also include student discipline and attitude.

I notice at Board Meetings there is always a segment set aside for Teachers Representatives to make comments. I have not seen where that opportunity has been used at recent Board Meetings.

Cicero

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Posted · Report post

Perhaps this is because we don't want to say anything that might make the brass look bad, but I also think that this is part of the problem.

Wow! blink.gif

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WOW! and " it is a sad reflection on the Teachers Union" are powerful statements!

The Mad Botanist

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We get all kinds of grief FROM PARENTS when we take cell phones from students texting or having conversations with them in class. Should I go on?

Rarely, does this discussion even involve any input from the teaching staff. Perhaps this is because we don't want to say anything that might make the brass look bad, but I also think that this is part of the problem.

You might want to ask about the turnover in the Winton Woods School District. At the HS alone, we are going to lose 14 teachers (and two counselors) this year and only one is due to a retirement. This is close to 25%. In fact, you might want to ask what the average years of WW experience will be next year. Why do you think that is? In other districts, they are losing about 10-15%. Part of the issue is the lack of backing that they receive FROM FAMILIES for trying to put forth high standards.

See, parents have a lot of sway on what they want a school to look like. Our brass just responds to what they want.

All of these quotes are just excuses to a big problem that the Board and district don't want to address. If a kid pulls out a cell phone in class, their should be a consequence, end of story. Teachers should be apart of the curriculum decisions and process. Teacher turn over happens all the time. It appears that the power of the district has shifted from the district to the parents, and the district is willing to give the parents whatever they want. Until the Board and District take control again, and not let the parents run things, WW will never be a district of choice. If it was why are so many leaving for private schools, or neighboring districts that have open enrollment?

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Student achievement requires support from the family. When has that ever NOT been the case?

I only post this example about the cell phone to illustrate a point about "walking the walk". While teachers will issue consequences about the cell phones, guess what happens? Often times, the parent wants to yell at the teacher for taking the cell phone. They will yell at my bosses. They will yell all the way out front to the big brass.

We see this all the time.

The same holds true for a lot of issues. We SAY we want one thing, but we want exceptions for our personal circumstances.

We have to do better, right?

A code of conduct is only as good as the backing that it has from those that wanted it. We give consequences all day long K-Roman, but if the parent has told the brass "my child won't serve this detention because soandso is picking on them".... where do we go from there?

I am not interested in offering excuses or pointing fingers. I want our district to be worthy of your respect. We want to raise the bar. We want higher standards. Our students can and should be doing much better. We know this. We have known this for some time.

We have a lot of new teachers starting with us this year. The stakes for them are very high. If they are going to be the future of this district, we have to give them the proper support, don't we? (Same is true of the old hands.. but I digress..)

A lot of community forums about our district (from what I am learning) don't even involve a current classroom teacher. I actually blame us on that one. We need to be more active at having conversations with all of you. We actually have a lot of great stories to tell.. but.. yeah.. having our back on "pushing your child to achieve their fullest potential".. that's a tricky one.

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Without school discipline there can only be chaos. Chaos was never considered a good environment for teaching.

If the administration is not backing up the teachers and caving in to lax parents, it is a serious matter that the Teachers Unions should be more vocal about as should teachers themselves.

The Ohio Revised Code provides ample tools for the administration to use against recalcitrant parents, The Board and the Administration need only to use them.

It is up to the teachers to make problems known, not only to the administration, but also to the general public. Perhaps if there is more transparency as to problems in the system, the system will address the problems. The public including the taxpayers who are funding the system have a right to know.

Cicero

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I just want to add that there was recently a one day exchange between our students and Oak Hills students. A friend of mine had 2 kids participate in that exchange. They reported that the cell phone problem at Oak Hills is FAR worse than at WW. This may not a be WW only problem. Just FYI. I realize no one ever disrespects a teacher or breaks a rule at a Catholic school, but apparently a lot of it goes on at another well respected public school, as was witnessed by our students.

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Saveourschools: Students do in fact disrespect teachers and break rules at Catholic schools.....kids are kids and they try to get away with things. But when this happens they have to face the wrath of the principal every time which is pretty intimidating. Kids have gotten suspended and there is detention as needed. Kids are not angels by any means in private schools.....they are just disciplined better and there are far less distractions behaviorwise.

I just wanted to clarify that statement.....you will find troublemakers everywhere you go....it's life. Cell phones are allowed in private highschools but are taken away in an instant if it becomes a distraction. In the grade schools they can be brought to school but not allowed out of the backpacks.....and it is not an issue because there are strict consequences if caught.

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