High School Issues

Learn more about high school academics, discipline policies and other issues relevant to private schools. Here we cover dress codes, explain the difference between AP and IB courses and discuss teen suicide. You’ll also find information on study abroad programs, codes of conduct and the best graduation gifts.
View the most popular articles in High School Issues:
I can just hear you saying "He's got to be kidding. After spending inordinate amounts of my valuable time and resources getting my child into private school, the school can decide it doesn't want her back next year?"

Yes, the school can do that. Sad. But true. Read the contract which you signed with the school when your daughter was first accepted. It very clearly spells out the rights each party to the contract has. And one of those is that the school does not have to automatically renew its contract with you. The contract has a finite term. Usually for one academic year.

How do you avoid the school sending a non-renewal notice? You make sure that the following are in order:

1. Acceptable academic progress
While it would be nice if your child could be first in every subject she takes, that is asking a bit too much. But you definitely want to keep her in the top third. If the school recommends extra help or even tutoring, don't fight that recommendation. Calculus may have been a breeze for you. But if she is struggling with it, be ahead of the curve. Accept the help offered.

All they really want is to see are her best efforts and maximum cooperation in achieving good results. There's a larger lesson that the school is trying to teach here as well. And that is to not flinch at life's challenges. Life is full of seemingly impossible...
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Cindy Springsteen writes about teens for the Long Island Examiner. I asked her about the challenges facing teens and their parents in the 21st century within the context of sending them off to private school. Here are her answers. ~ Robert Kennedy

RK. Does sending your teens off to private school help protect them from drinking and other forms of substance abuse? Your reasons?
CS. No, I do not think sending your teens to a private school is going to protect them from the dangers of drinking and other forms of abuse. Teens are teens and just because they are in a private school, they will still be exposed to everything that is available to them in the public schools. In some cases it is said that private school teens come from families with money and could more easily purchase bad things. This is a personal opinion.  
RK. Cindy, I agree that teens are teens. Whether they go to private or public school, they will be exposed to all sorts of opportunities to drink. The difference, however, with private school is that if they are caught, the consequences will be serious and swift. I know of an instance at one of my daughters' schools where a couple of seniors decided to sneak a drink on campus a few days before graduation. They were caught and were not permitted to attend graduation.

RK. Let's look at another serious issue. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death...
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Joseph Gauld is a distinguished educator who founded Hyde Schools in 1966. He very kindly agreed to answer some questions about Hyde Schools and his educational philosophy. The Editor.

 

1. Tell us a bit about the crisis of conscience which you had back in 1966. This is how the concept of Hyde Schools was shaped, correct?
As a director of admissions who taught calculus and coached football in 1962, I had a crisis of conscience when I realized I was part of a competitive educational system valuing certain abilities that blocked the full development of the unique potential of students.
As a mathematics teacher and varsity basketball and football coach in the 50s and 60s, I was inspired to start a new school because of an experience in an advanced calculus class I was teaching. My brightest student, who ultimately received the highest grade in the class, exhibited very little genuine curiosity in his own learning or that of others, relying almost exclusively on his innate abilities, despite the fact I encouraged him repeatedly to challenge himself.
 
 On the other side of the spectrum, there was another student in the same class who was the classic “plugger.” Although he had considerable difficulty with the material, he embodied all of the qualities and virtues I hoped that schools would espouse: curiosity, strong work ethic, concern for others, honesty, etc. I praised his effort, yet ultimately—and reluctantly—gave him the lowest grade in the class.
 
 This example, represented to me what was wrong...
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Small Classes

Small classes are at the top of the list. If the private high school you are looking at doesn't have small classes, what's the point? Now, small can be interpreted in different ways. But typically a class size of 12-15 students will allow students plenty of interaction with their teacher. That's really what you are looking for anyway when you consider sending your child to a private high school.

Small classes mean that your child won't just be a number. It's very difficult to hide in a small class. Some teens prefer to sit on the edges and observe. A small class draws students into the discussions and activities. From a teaching point of view small classes are beneficial because the teacher can see how each student is doing. Discipline is not an issue in a private high school as a rule, so small class sizes have little impact on that aspect of classroom management. The real
bottomline benefit is that true teaching and learning can occur. That's, after all, what you want anyway.

Highly Qualified Teachers

By highly qualified we mean a first degree in the subject being taught complemented by an advanced degree. The intrinsic passion a teacher has for his subject should be fortified by the requisite coursework in that subject specialty. In other words,  if a teacher is teaching physics or calculus, he should have a respectable first degree in those subjects. Preferably honors degrees. Adding a masters degree...
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Students in private schools must follow their school's guidelines and directives when it comes to using personal technology. Personal technology includes devices such as laptops, desktops, cell phones, Blackberries, PDAs, language translators, video players, and MP3 players.What is somewhat perplexing to many mature teachers is that none of these devices were in common use ten years ago. The reality is that young people have all some or all of these devices and use them naturally, freely and without much thought.
 
As a rule there are limits on these devices and their use in private schools. Let's look at five things you are not supposed to do with personal technology. Breaking the rules in your school could land you in a heap of trouble, including expulsion. If you are a parent, have a discussion with your child. Review her school's personal technology use policy. Help her understand the limits and the reasons why. Remind her further that she has no rights in a private school. So if the school disciplines her for an infraction, there is no recourse.

Private school students are covered by contract law, not constitutional rights. Her rights and privileges are clearly detailed in the contract you, her parent, signed with the school. This is a legal and binding document.

Here then are five things you must not do with personal technology while under school jurisdiction.

1. Harrass
Harrassing is broadly defined as bothering somebody. It takes many forms and runs the gamut from racial...
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High School Issues

Academics

A comprehensive look at high school academics. We cover grades, AP and IB courses, and the post graduate year. Learn the secrets of A+ students. Explore summer abroad programs, read interviews with experts and get valuable tips on excelling academically.

Discipline

A brief look into high school discipline policies. From codes of conduct to uniforms and dress code, we'll provide information on the latest practices in private schools.

Other Issues

From graduation gifts to preventing teen suicide, this section provides information on a variety of topics affecting high school students. Learn what to do when your child is expelled, you need financial aid or you’re looking for a teaching job. Get expert advice on protecting your teen from substance abuse, finding the right high school and handling personal technology on campus.