Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Misery Index

Instead of listing high schools by the number of students who take AP tests, I'd like to see schools rated by a "Misery Index", which would be based on questions like these:

Do the students get adequate sleep? Do they have time to pursue their own interests after school? Do they describe themselves as "stressed"?

If you ask one of the students, "what was the last book you read for pleasure?", does she look at you like you've got two heads?

Are the students engaged in learning, or do they see school as a resumé-building obstacle course? If you ask a student about a subject that she passed last semester, does she still know it?

How do the students treat each other? Is there a sense of community, or cut-throat competition? Is the school rife with mean girls and bullies?

How do the teachers treat the students? Are they control freaks? Do they teach actual content, or mostly compliance?

How do teachers and administration treat parents? Are complaining parents told that "nobody else has complained", or that "the other parents want what we have now"? Are parents treated with contempt or respect?

What's the homework like? Is there simply too much for a normal student to fit in to a normal day? Does it help the students learn, or is it busywork?

You'll notice I haven't provided a way to assign points for each of these questions. That is deliberate. We all have enough spurious numbers in our lives.


  1. Keep it coming! There's little enough common sense out there.

  2. All good questions. Why are parents treated with contempt at many public schools? At my kids elementary school, parents (especially moms) are treated with condescending rudeness. Interestingly, the employees at this elementary school are all women. Why do rude, hostile women reign at these places? Certainly, there are few private employers who would employ such mean-spirited women and have them deal with the public. These rude public employees seem to relish their positions of "power" over the moms. I see these women as personally pathetic but have kept myself from losing it even when they are overtly rude and hostile for my kids sake.