Schools and colleges reopening

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Peanut
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Schools and colleges reopening

Post by Peanut »

Wondering how people feel about schools reopening around the world. Would you send your kid, real or hypothetical, to class in person?
What do you think of elearning? Or of inhibited, at least to some extent, face-to-face learning?
Is college an even bigger ripoff than usual this year? Will MOOC ascend?

And what about the Montgomery county case, where the public health officials went back and forth with the governor about closing all schools versus allowing private schools to reopen in person? (Not enough political discussion around here, yah) Is this a death knell for public schools in the U.S.?

And something I started wondering a couple months ago: what are the chances the disruptions continue into the 2021-2022 school year?

Pick your poison.

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fiby41
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Re: Schools and colleges reopening

Post by fiby41 »

Until last month we had the 10+2+3 pattern. There was no facility to change uni, college or course after enrollment. Engineering colleges collected all your previous certificates so you don't drop out.

Now we have 5+3+3+4 pattern. Something US/UK folks would recognize is the everybody wins giving out of "Diploma" and "Associate" certificates for partial course completion. The electives for 13 year olds include programming and financial planning which leaves me with an 8 year time window to ERE and get out of their way so as not to be trampled on the working grounds.
Is college an even bigger ripoff than usual this year?
"Knowledge is free, pay for the examination" has been the motto of https://swayam.gov.in/explorer

https://spoken-tutorial.org/ covers only open-source software and supports 33 languages including Vietnamese. Under the new education policy more e-content will be provided in stages from the 8th through 22nd national language.

while https://tbc-python.fossee.in/ is a companion for standard textbooks.
What do you think of elearning
I prefer this. Saves on travel time. Power law plays into this- why should we learn from mediocre teachers in batches of students at a time when everyone could flock to the few great teachers?
face-to-face learning?
I know at least MS Teams doesn't explicitly track your activity outside their window so you can minimize it and do whatever when the speaker rambles, you get bored, topic is uninteresting,...
Its good that unlike the browser, PC and OS markets; web-conferencing/video calling market hasn't been monopolized yet and keeping track of which client for what meeting is a small inconvenience for it.

I think of "education" as a sponge that absorbs excess or untimely participants in the job market and an excuse for unemployment. Don't have something to do yet? Maybe if you enrolled into a master's program/had this certification/attended this course/ did this bootcamp...
For this we now have an "Academic Bank of Credits" which takes digits in your bank account and dumps it after dividing it by ~10^3

UK-with-kids
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Re: Schools and colleges reopening

Post by UK-with-kids »

We will definitely send our young children back to school at the first available opportunity. It's been six months without any classroom academic learning, and with very limited social interaction with other children, which is a very important part of what they get from school. They are desperate to go back to school, and we as parents are desperate not to be their full-time carers, educators, etc for any longer. These factors for me outweigh the very small risk of contracting Covid-19 as a result.

Older children can probably cope better with online learning, but it seems to me that teenagers have been meeting up out of school anyway, in environments where there is no social distancing, hand sanitising, etc.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Schools and colleges reopening

Post by Hristo Botev »

Our 2nd and 5th graders have been back in school (in person) for 2 weeks now. Parents had the option to do virtual or in person, with the virtual kids following along with what the in person kids are doing in the classroom, and with each virtual kid having an in person “buddy” to get the teacher’s attention when needed. It varies by grade, but I’d say probably 1/4 of the kids opted for virtual. The in person kids are in “cohorts,” which are just their class; and they do everything (recess, lunch, specials like music/art/technology/Spanish) with their cohorts, and they don’t interact with kids outside their cohort. Each grade has 2 classes/cohorts per grade (it’s a small school). Logistically, then, if one kid gets sick with Covid, then the entire cohort has to go virtual for a 10 or 14 day period (can’t remember).

There are of course a lot of seemingly odd and illogical behaviors resulting from this set up. E.g, our neighbors (you all may remember them from the Ring spy camera incident) has opted for virtual learning for their son (who is in my son’s class), but his parents seem fine with him playing with our son after school. AND, the dad is a teacher AT THE SCHOOL, and although I think he tried to be able to teach virtually (to an in person class?), this attempt must have failed, as he is teaching in person. So, what’s the point of keeping their son home for virtual learning? Apparently it has something to do with the mom wanting to stay home from work for some period of time, while Uncle Sam (I.e., her neighbors) pay her salary—I think this is the families first coronavirus response act, but my understanding was that was only for parents whose kids don’t have an option for in person education, which of course her son does.

To answer the inevitable and strangely political question: yes, everyone is required to wear masks at all times, even the Kindergartners.

So far things seem to be going relatively smoothly; no outbreaks, but I think everyone assumes that it’s a matter of time before there’s something; we are all just doing what we can to make sure that something isn’t some sort of super spreader event.

The local public school system and all the surrounding public school systems are currently virtual only and it looks like it’s going to stay that way for awhile. Among other things this has meant my kids Catholic school had a record level of new applications for this school year.

To answer OP’s query a little more directly, I think this whole situation is really F’ing over poor kids and their parents, on a number of levels. Our friends with kids in the fancy local public school here are doing just fine—they’ve spent money on these elaborate virtual learning set ups at home; many kids have both parents at home helping the kids out; and of course almost all of them have leveraged their social and financial capital to create learning pods, often times with hired help, or with all the parents sharing responsibilities, or with just 1 or 2 stay at home parent in charge of managing the pod. I can’t imagine what poor kids are doing whose parents don’t have the option of staying at home, who don’t have the money to set up a “pod” or hire a nanny/tutor to help with virtual learning. And given my experience as to the corrupt and incompetent manner in which our various local governments manage anything, I’d be surprised if even 1/4 of the resources for laptops and internet access for poor, virtual learning kids were getting spent as intended. The school systems can say whatever they want, but my guess is that education for most poor kids doing virtual learning is really still on pause; and this is going to be one helluva gap to overcome in the coming years.

My hope as to the silver lining that comes from this is a real push for school choice. None other than Elizabeth Warren years ago identified the problem of coupling educational opportunity with home address, and hopefully this fiasco will help decouple that system.

Peanut
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Re: Schools and colleges reopening

Post by Peanut »

@Fiby: Interesting points. I agree about the negative tendency towards using education as a stopgap or resume filler. I'm less convinced that online learning with the best professors beats out say an above-average in-person experience. Maybe it depends on the field. I also think different students respond differently to the same teacher; there is often disagreement about who is really good.

@UK-with-kids: Best of luck this fall. UK kids are lucky to be able to all return. I agree if not in school they will be together anyway. In the U.S. I have been seeing roving packs of teenagers for months now. Mostly keeping to themselves, but at one point ten to twenty of them started meeting up at local parks to drink beer in the closed playgrounds. Cops have been called to break them up at times. It's interesting that often at least some are masked, perhaps more for anonymity than anything else.

We suspect our teenage nephew had Covid this summer even though he tested negative; he was meeting with friends regularly without taking precautions. His high school already had a case in the first week back. And this is a low-risk area, relatively speaking.

@Hristo: Wow, your neighbor is a teacher at your kids' school too? The guy who was Single White Female-ing you (or Married White Male-ing you)? That's nuts. I had not heard of this Coronavirus response act allowance at all, will look that up for curiosity's sake. Frankly I'm amazed such a generous provision would exist. It's awful they are trying to abuse that provision. Can you report them to the archdiocese?

Personally and politically? I was against masks for kids, partly because the age guidelines were all over the place (2+, 8+, 10+, 11+ in different states and countries) and not really scientific but have come round to it after the Georgia camp spread and reading a pulmonary specialist affirming their safety.

I agree completely about how damaging school closures are for poor families. Apparently some of those high-earning parents creating pandemic pods are trying to include low-income kids in the mix, which is both thoughtful and kind of clunky and weird.

How would school choice work?

Hristo Botev
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Re: Schools and colleges reopening

Post by Hristo Botev »

Peanut wrote:
Sun Aug 23, 2020 7:11 pm
How would school choice work?
The tax money follows the kid, rather than the address--the kid goes to the school that best fits their needs, wherever located, whether public, private, religious/parochial, charter, magnet, home school, or any other learning environment the parents think is right for their kids. So Jewish parents can send their kids to a Jewish day school with public tax money; an autistic kid can go to a school that specializes in autism; same for dyslexia; probably same for sports, trades, and so forth. Likely to receive public funds school will have to agree to some basic level of civics education, and perhaps some basic reading, writing, arithmetic standards; but otherwise the school can teach in the manner that the school, its teachers, and the students' parents think best and most in line with their values and their kids' needs.

Isn't this kind of the situation in many European countries already?

Admittedly I don't know much about the issue (it's a circle of control/concern issue for me, what's the point of investing time in this when I don't see anything changing anytime soon), but it just seems to me at a basic level that our property tax-based public education funding has caused some serious problems both in terms of inequitable (there's a buzz word for you) educational opportunities, AND lack of affordable housing, with an otherwise illogical spread in home values.

Also, it annoys me that senior citizens in my town don't have to contribute to public education (because they aren't using them?), but I still do, even though I'm using the public schools no more than the senior citizens.
Peanut wrote:
Sun Aug 23, 2020 7:11 pm
Wow, your neighbor is a teacher at your kids' school too? The guy who was Single White Female-ing you (or Married White Male-ing you)?
The very one; he changed schools a month or so after we had the Ring camera incident. If he doesn't quit or get fired this year (this happens a lot with him), then he will be teaching our daughter next year in middle school; not thrilled, but at this point we've just gotten used to how much this family encroaches on everything we do, and changed our behaviors accordingly. Basically, we don't interact with them short of the absolute necessary neighborly pleasantries; and our kids know (1) don't be alone with the parents or the kid, ever; and (2) be very, very careful when playing with the kid, as the kid entertains himself by finding ways to get my son in trouble.

I'll just note, since I'm already adding on to the list of sins I'll have to confess this weekend--he drives to work; he lives in a house that is across the street from the school he teaches at, but he drives to work. We are screwed as a society.

Laura Ingalls
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Re: Schools and colleges reopening

Post by Laura Ingalls »

I think the school year is going to be a bumpy ride. We have had positive cases (both staff and students) in this area already this school year and only one of our six buildings is back in session. We have one middle school grade that is starting remotely as they have too many sick or quarantined staff to function.

We are an area with an infection rate that has been ~10 per 100,000 and positivity rates have been fairly low in recent weeks.

My kid is going. No chronic conditions, masks are required and he willingly wears one. He also desperately needs more social interactions and structured learning. YMMV.

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jennypenny
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Re: Schools and colleges reopening

Post by jennypenny »

Our son's school is going back and after discussing it with him and his doctor, we're letting him go. They split the students into two cohorts and they'll alternate one week in person and one week virtual. We'll see how it goes. The plans for the classroom are good, but I want to see how they handle the hallways, bathrooms, lunch, etc. They have plans for things I didn't think of, like propping all of the doors open so no one touches the handles (normally schools and classrooms are locked down post-Columbine) so I took it as a sign that they've really thought this through.

I'm going to try to deal with each issue individually instead of just giving a thumbs up or down on school. If hallways are crowded, I'm going to request he be allowed to leave class a couple of minutes before the bell. If the lunchroom is too crowded, I'm going to take up a collection with other parents and erect a big party tent with heaters outside. If it's hard to wear the mask all day, I'm going to request that the kids be allowed to go outside a couple of times a day so they can safely remove their mask for few minutes.

^^That's how I'm handling things now anyway. There are a few things I still won't do, and a few places I avoid because they aren't taking enough precautions, but I'm trying to deal with it in a micro way instead of a macro way. That said, it wouldn't surprise me if his school went all virtual or cases spiked enough so that he had to go virtual for a while. I told him we'll take it a week at a time.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Schools and colleges reopening

Post by Hristo Botev »

jennypenny wrote:
Tue Aug 25, 2020 9:05 am
That said, it wouldn't surprise me if his school went all virtual or cases spiked enough so that he had to go virtual for a while. I told him we'll take it a week at a time.
Ditto. One week at a time (and just assuming that the kids will have to go virtual at some point).

Peanut
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Re: Schools and colleges reopening

Post by Peanut »

This week my kid went back to school but at a new school. They delayed the in-person start and I felt like the day would never come but it finally did. When spring semester ended I started looking at switching him to a private school because I was worried fall would still be remote, and I even had the thought that public schools might not open properly by next fall 2021. After some hybrid fake-outs schools did go remote so I was right on that score. It was a difficult decision because I have always been against private schooling; I'm just a big believer, or was I guess, in public schools. I don't love spending tens of Ks on school, either, and do not yet know what we will do if he wants to keep attending after this year. But for now it was a good decision.

I wish for everyone and their kids to survive and thrive this school year!

Hristo Botev
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Re: Schools and colleges reopening

Post by Hristo Botev »

Peanut wrote:
Tue Sep 01, 2020 9:50 pm
It was a difficult decision because I have always been against private schooling; I'm just a big believer, or was I guess, in public schools.
Welcome to the dark side :D FWIW, DW and I had always been strong believers in "government" schools as well; then our kids actually went to one, surrounded entirely by the kids of the C-suite corporate execs and high-paid professional services folks who can afford to live in our school district. After a couple years we finally realized we were doing our kids a disservice by allowing them to be indoctrinated by the suffocating culture of high income corporate wage slaves. It was a very, very different experience from the public school environment DW and I grew up in, before the advent of the whole IB curriculum thing (which separates out the high achievers from the "general population"), so that for the most part people from all different socio-economic backgrounds were in school (and in class) together.

ZAFCorrection
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Re: Schools and colleges reopening

Post by ZAFCorrection »

Super tangent-y, but IB as I saw it practiced is like ground zero for inequality maximization with a meritocratic veneer. This friend of my wife's had us help his daughter with this extensive research project, which is apparently pretty standard for IB. The criteria made it sound like the equivalent of an REU (but high school students are doing it).

The advisor/teacher/whatever gave pretty much zero input on how to execute the the project properly (topic, experimental design, data analysis, etc.), and we held her hand through all of it. My wife and I both have a strong background in research, so the result was an above-average high schooler put out a project that would be excellent for a fourth-year undergrad.

And this is like standard operating procedure for the kids with connections/money. When I was in high school I was churning out average work and perfecting masturbation. There was not a single PhD in my family's entire social circle. That IB project would be nonsense in that context.

Hristo Botev
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Re: Schools and colleges reopening

Post by Hristo Botev »

ZAFCorrection wrote:
Fri Sep 04, 2020 8:13 pm
Super tangent-y, but IB as I saw it practiced is like ground zero for inequality maximization with a meritocratic veneer.
That was my limited experience as well. My little sister was in the first class that did the program in our high school, and I think that is a big reason why her group of high school friends were way less diverse than were mine and DW’s, from a socio economic standpoint, but also just from an interests standpoint. Her entire group of friends were stressed out gunner types; who wants to be surrounded by that all the time? In the urban school district in the city where I live now, I have several friends who live in a neighborhood with a very good elementary school, because of massive parent involvement, and then the middle school is kind of OK and the high school can be pretty scary, so most parents transition their kids to private school after elementary. But some stick around through high school, with the understanding their kids will be in the IB program and so basically be insulated within their own, separate school within a school.

My point is I think it can be a little disingenuous to give yourself virtue points because you send your kids to public school even though you have the means to do otherwise; as if you’re being anti elitist somehow.

ETA: at my high school the ib program also took all the best teachers

bostonimproper
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Re: Schools and colleges reopening

Post by bostonimproper »

The students have descended on Boston (or, rather the quarter of them allowed back on campus). I'm not looking forward to seeing MA's rates of infections skyrocket again.

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jennypenny
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Re: Schools and colleges reopening

Post by jennypenny »

Another option for those stuck with virtual-only schooling ...

"School being back in session usually spells an end to vacation season for lots of families, but the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort is offering a way to keep school in session while also letting families have a great getaway.

Right now, the resort is offering supervised “schoolcations” that allow kids to attend class remotely from the resort’s quiet, dedicated learning space. Then, when all the school work is done, kids can have the ultimate “recess” by heading down to Explorer Island water park, where they can swim, float down the lazy river, zoom down water slides, and enjoy lots of outdoor recreation such as sand volleyball, basketball, foosball, table-tennis, and more."


-----

DS went back to school (week on, week off). They have plexicubbies in the lunchrooms and other public spaces, the library is rearranged with more plexi than books and students need to sign up for a time slot online, dismissals between classes are staggered, parking spaces are assigned so students don't park next to each other (most towns aren't providing bussing this year), and teachers seem to be having a contest to see which can wear the craziest mask & shield. We were also warned that windows will be open all day unless it's raining cats and dogs and the kids should dress appropriately. Luckily teenagers are heat pumps so it'll probably only bother the teachers. They also added some of those trailer-type classroom spaces out back so they can hold meetings (like guidance) in bigger spaces. Other than the restrooms being as they always were (not sure what you can do about that), I'm pretty comfortable with the situation.

Credit to the catholic schools who saw an opportunity to show how progressive and adaptive they've become, and increase enrollment in the process. Grade school level education has its plusses and minuses compared to public school IMO, but some the high schools are terrific now.



OT but related to a comment above ... We chose a catholic high school in a neighboring state that is much more diverse than the public or private high schools near us in Stepford. They give out a ton of scholarship money to draw in low-income kids so the Stepford-type kids (30-40%) end up sponsoring the rest of the student body. I don't mind at all and feel like my kids get a lot out of the experience and make friends with kids they would never meet otherwise.

I'm not saying that all private schools are worth the money because I think you can't generalize one way or the other. You have to do your homework and see what's available to you. The thing I don't like about public school is that no matter where you live, all the students are from the same area so they are basically all the same in one way or another. I understand why they have to do it that way, but by high school you really notice which kids have never left their bubble and which have. Finding a less expensive Catholic or private high school that's outside of your bubble can help with that. It's not cheap (around me it's $10-20K/yr for catholic HS*), but if you aren't happy with your public school it might be worth it.

*Quaker and private schools are at least double that and I'd have a hard time justifying it, not just because of the cost but because the diversity I was seeking is mostly eliminated when tuition is that high. They are diverse, but only because of quotas. I prefer the more organic diversity that occurs in the lower cost schools.

horsewoman
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Re: Schools and colleges reopening

Post by horsewoman »

10 to 20K a year?! Ok, I'll never moan about our 3K (euros) a year Montessori school henceforth! :lol:

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jennypenny
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Re: Schools and colleges reopening

Post by jennypenny »

That much for high school. Lower grades are much cheaper.

And the adage 'the more you pay for high school, the less you pay for college' is true, at least around me anyway. I know schools are structured differently in Europe so it doesn't apply, but in the States you can expect to deduct what you pay in hs tuition from your anticipated college bill. It's a stupid/crazy system but we paid less for college than hs and feel the overall experience was better for them.

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jennypenny
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Re: Schools and colleges reopening

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Sclass
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Re: Schools and colleges reopening

Post by Sclass »

jennypenny wrote:
Sat Sep 05, 2020 6:24 am
They give out a ton of scholarship money to draw in low-income kids so the Stepford-type kids (30-40%) end up sponsoring the rest of the student body. I don't mind at all and feel like my kids get a lot out of the experience and make friends with kids they would never meet otherwise.
Hey JP. I’ve had some experience with an exclusive private girl’s high school in the Bay Area offering free tuition to minorities. Castilleja school.

I had a Latina neighbor who went there free ride. To put it bluntly her family was economically struggling. Basically the polar opposite of a Castilleja kid. She got into Stanford on graduation. It was kind of odd because the bar is set pretty high for admission and I didn’t think she was even close to making the cut. Yet she got in. And she flunked out. She was overwhelmed by the other freshman...the ones with the perfect SATs, 4.X GPAs, published novels and professional resumes that cite their patents and *peer reviewed research papers at age 18. Bottom line was Stanford required either that or diversity. Or faked sports. Or serious doses of legacy.

I thought about the whole thing later and I realized the high school was doing a manipulative marketing move to recruit minority kids from the bad side of town with free tuition. Get them into the big name universities using diversity. Then probably bragging about their statistics to 1%er parents paying full pop to attend their exclusive girls school. I bet they never broke down all the details for their applicants. Basically an investment costing only four years of tuition.

Was it in the name of giving their students a diverse cultural experience or was it just to pad their college acceptance stats? It looked pretty bad from my point of view. Maybe I’m upset because it was so ingenious.

Your post reminded me of this story. It was kind of sad. I felt the little girl was unhappy in high school because she was snubbed by her classmates. Her only friend was an African American girl in the same program. I felt sorry for the teenage girls because I knew a few of Castilleja’s graduates in college and they were very privileged and proud kids. It pained me to wonder how they would treated my teenage neighbor.

Kind of sidetracked here. Good luck getting the kids back to school. I’m curious how it’ll work. Some friends are betting on disaster others are saying it’ll be fine. I guess this is one where you have to just do the experiment and see.

*one of my jobs at my startup was getting our VCs’ kids on research papers and patents during their summer jobs. Unbelievable, but it was one step before faking Stanford Sailing Team.

Peanut
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Re: Schools and colleges reopening

Post by Peanut »

@SClass: That's a sad story about your neighbor. Did she find a way forward after leaving college? I wonder if she did well in high school. I have read that high GPA in high school, no matter if your school was good or terrible, is the best indicator for success in college; SAT scores and the like are not well correlated. It was an interesting finding and made sense to me, as you're then talking about a person who sees themselves a certain way--as a top student--and be motivated to maintain their identity. Dealing with imposter syndrome or social ostracism presents a different set of challenges, however.

@horsewoman: On tuition, it depends where you are. Plenty of city schools start at 10k+ for parochial and 30k+ for private.

@Zafc: Wow, that is wild about the research project you and your wife advised. I only had my dad helping me with my mediocre science project that I then had trouble explaining properly. :D I had only heard of IB in connection with expat schooling abroad; it seemed like a weird degree and it was odd to find it used so widely these days. There are 'wall-to-wall' IB high schools here. I went to a middle school with accelerated tracks and HS with AP tracks. I remember thinking the former didn't make sense but the latter served a distinct purpose.

@jp: It's great that school is going well so far. Their weekly plan is one of the more sensible that I've heard of.
jennypenny wrote:
Sat Sep 05, 2020 6:51 am
And the adage 'the more you pay for high school, the less you pay for college' is true, at least around me anyway. I know schools are structured differently in Europe so it doesn't apply, but in the States you can expect to deduct what you pay in hs tuition from your anticipated college bill. It's a stupid/crazy system but we paid less for college than hs and feel the overall experience was better for them.
I had not heard that expression before but I grew up in a small town with predominantly public schools. Are the kids in your area getting merit scholarships to colleges and universities? I went to a top uni and I found most kids, except for the international students, were from public schools but perhaps times have changed.

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