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VI PUBLC SCHOOL HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS ARE BASICALLY THE SAME AS ANY

 

Melody
(@Melody)
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April 10, 2007 1:33 pm  

I am sorry guys, but I really feel strongly about some of the on going strong statements that refer to the students, teachers, and families of the USVI. This is my attempt to suggest that the readers of this board be more open about their views and opinions concerning this matter. Such as:

The students in the public schools of the USVI are not the Best. What do you mean by the best.
It will be difficult for your white child in the public schools. Yes it might be, but is it because of the color of the skin.
You will not be able to understand the public schools students when they talk.
The good teachers from the states who have decided to work in the public school were roped in
The parents in the public schools are poor.
The public school students are very different from those in the in the states.
Many students have parents who just perfer public over private for many reasons.
The teachers are the lowest paid. Check out the salaries in Dade County Florida with 10 years of experience compared to VI with 10 years.

I could go on and on. I personnally think that some of the statements about the students, teachers, and families are not the total reflection of what is. Atleast I do not think that the situations which I have stated time and time again are not much differenct from many public school situations in the states. So here is another list that you might want to consider.

THE STUDENTS IN THE USVI

Like to play their IPODS all day long if they can get away with it.
Most students have cell phones.
Many students come to after school support classes to prepare for the SAT
The ROTC students just love it
They like sports, dance class, and art class
The prepare for their transition from school to adult living in the vocational programs
They have girlfriend and boyfriend problems
They hang in clicks
They like hip hop, reggae, and rock
They like the most expensive sneakers
Some are very materialistics
They wear baggy jeans and jeans that are very tight sometimes
They have dreams of becoming successful professional citizens
Some have serious problems at home which interfere with their learning in school
Some have parents who attend meetings and pick up their report cards
Some have parents who never come to see about their education
Some of the students really get into William Skakespear
They do very creative science projects
They have teachers that care and some who could care more
They participate in the Quiz Bowls.
They have football chanpionships
They have cheerleaders with uniforms
They participate in after school programs such as the chess club and the math club
A few get into school fights and all sorts of other behavioral situations
They are computer literate
They love MY Space
Many love to write poetry and keep personal journals
They go to proms and other school dances.
Some are very good swimmers
Some love to fish
Many are very good soccer players
Some take AP classes

They wish they did not have to always wear uniforms
They have student government.
Some have attended schools in the states and in other countries.
They have after school jobs
They like CSI
Some say they don't look at TV to much but stay on the computer 24/7
Some have poor attendance records. Some hate missing school.
They take english classes and are required to strive to speak standard english in class.
Many prefer slang
Many have received awards and scholorships about their academic achievements
Some carry weapons and involved in gang like activities
The students learn despite the resources and the flaws of system that needs much improvement.

HOW DIFFERENT ARE THESE FROM ANYWHERE ELSE?

PUBLIC/PRIVATE - FOR SOME IT IS A CHOICE/OPTION FOR OTHERS IT IS NOT- BUT I DO NOT THINK IT HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE CHILDREN.


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STT Resident
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April 10, 2007 2:10 pm  

Melody - your comments are certainly valid to a point.

However, prospective newcomers with children post on this forum asking for information about the educational system here because they have never lived here and are concerned not only about fitting in themselves but more because they want to know how their children will fit in and what they can expect not only from their peers on a social level but from the educational system in general.

Nobody is saying that all the local children, parents and educators are bad. What IS pointed out and has been supported by those with first-hand experience over and over again is that moving from mainland USA to the Virgin Islands is for most like moving to a foreign country and far removed from, say, a move from Connecticut to Oregon. Obviously when children are in the equation the concerns are greater and so they should be.

The educational system here is a continual source of angst for the local population here and has been for many years, You only have to go through the archives in the local newspapers to understand the major educatioal problems here. Statistically the educational system in the islands has been a tortuous mess for many years.

Of course there are those who do well in the public school system and nobody is denying that but the overall picture is gloomy to date. Certainly anyone considering a move here with children should be concerned not only with the overall picture of relocation but also whether and how their children will obtain an education comparable to that which they might receive in Hometown USA in an average public school environment.

Maybe you were a newcomer who not only successfuly overcame the basic obstacles of relocation but successfully raised children in the public school system here in the last ten years or so, If so, then congratulations are your due. Sharing your experiences on the issue would certainly provide an alternative viewpoint to this ongoing discussion and would be a breath of fresh air and a most helpful guide for many! Cheers.


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Teresa
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April 10, 2007 2:35 pm  

Melody,

I have read many many posts and posted many many posts from my own experience. I have never read where the children currently in the V.I. schools were put down. You may very well be over reacting to some random post. I don't know. Many public and private schools have kids go to first rate colleges, etc. on island. I haven't heard anything contrary.

This board and the posts on it are for people moving to the U.S.V.I. and yes there is a HUGE difference from schools on the mainland. Yes there are public schools in the states that are as bad or worse than the school situation in the islands, and I would say the same thing if someone were moving from a small country school to a big city school. Know what changes your child will face and there will be discrimination. But I am not talking to people moving to a big city, we are talking about moving to the U.S.V.I. so we post accordingly.

Anyway, I am ranting, but I felt you put words in my mouth that I never said. I have deleted most of my post, because I just ranted, but Melody I think you are creating an argument that doesn't exist. You are not comparing apples to apple here. The cost of living is very high in the islands, yet teachers are not paid accordingly. That is the truth.

Teresa


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SuzanneB
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April 10, 2007 3:21 pm  

Wonderful post, Melody. I agree 110% with all of your comments.
I too, am more than tired of reading people's negative commentary on our schools. I admit that here at CAHS we have our share of issues, in particular our drop out rate, but of the students that do graduate, over 80% go on to college/higher education. In my 3 years teaching here, I can honestly say that I have never had a student speak disrespectfully to me, I am always greeted with a pleasant good morning---which is a far cry from the rude, disrespectful attitude I often experienced when teaching stateside.

Teresa, I don't think that Melody is trying to downplay our problems, in fact she spells them out in plain view. She is merely trying to convey the fact that our students have much in common with stateside students.


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jane
 jane
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April 10, 2007 3:43 pm  

You all have good points,
Warning rant coming!!!!!
Most of the posters who are thinking about relocating to the VI (IMHO) are not aware that they are considering moving their children to an inner city/depressed/ whatever you would describe it as school district.
If you look at a lot of the salaries/hopes/expectations/life experiences/ etc of many of the posters, I think you will find that their idea of public school is a little tamer and more "Anytown, USA" than the school district that exists in the VI.
As a consumer of both the VI product and a Mid Western product, apples and oranges is correct. The system does not have many of the parent-friendly accountable checks and balances that one would have in Anytown. My daughter loved ROTC - she hid there most of the school day - it was safer. She is tall, strong, outgoing, confident fluent in Spanish and was well used to being in a foreign/mixed/ muticultural environment but she was afraid.
There seemed to be no sanctions for the racist and threatening kids, it was very laissez faire - requests to see the principal etc were ignored blah blah. The teacher sanctioned comment in class that "white folk smell like wet chicken" was almost funny if it wasn't so pathetic.
I am sure that there are many grand teachers - that doesn't offset the horrific ones.
More inner city ghastly than Paradise High. Potential transplants should be warned.


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Betty
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April 10, 2007 3:43 pm  

Melody you said, "PUBLIC/PRIVATE - FOR SOME IT IS A CHOICE/OPTION FOR OTHERS IT IS NOT- BUT I DO NOT THINK IT HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE CHILDREN." Of coarse not it has to do with the adults who are responsible for their children. No one has ever suggested blaming the children, that is just inflammatory. There are many different people that can take the blame for the way the schools are but no has suggested it be the children.

Melody you said, "The students in the public schools of the USVI are not the Best. What do you mean by the best.
It will be difficult for your white child in the public schools. Yes it might be, but is it because of the color of the skin.
You will not be able to understand the public schools students when they talk.
The good teachers from the states who have decided to work in the public school were roped in
The parents in the public schools are poor.
The public school students are very different from those in the in the states.
Many students have parents who just prefer public over private for many reasons.
The teachers are the lowest paid. Check out the salaries in Dade County Florida with 10 years of experience compared to VI with 10 years. "

I've never said public schools here aren't the best I've said again and again that they are horrible. The color of the child's skin has nothing to do with it. If the child is black or asian or blue and they are coming from stateside they are going to be an outsider. They will have a difficult time just understanding the dialect spoken by their peers and/or teachers. I do not know if you have come from stateside or are local, but as a statesider I can tell you it was hard the first six months to pick it up and understand it from speakers with a thick accent. I still have trouble from time to time. What would happen to a statesider child's grades if he also had a hard time pick up the dialect? Never heard anyone say the parents of children in public schools are poor, but by the same logic how would a poor parent's child get in to private school? The scholarships to private schools in the VI are rarely for the full tuition, it is usually on a third or a fourth off. I could care less it someone is poor, does that somehow make them less intelligent?? The public schools here are different from the states. Every city school system stateside is different. People's home equity stateside is affected by how good their city's school system is. What does that mean to you. All of the parents I know prefer private, but on the same hand I'm sure there someone out there who prefers the other. What the VI pays is low, but its also low where I come from originally in Texas. Its simply a fact, people teach or so I hope because they love it. How they survive on it I don't know. But I am sincerely grateful for the good teachers I did have.

So mostly I didn't agree with you or maybe just didn't understand what you were trying to say. I don't think you're going to convince many people that there are not serious problems with the public school system in the usvi, but I bet on this board you could find alot of people who would be willing to help you make it better. Got any suggestions?


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Melody
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April 10, 2007 3:47 pm  

I appreciate your viewpoints certainly but I have read several messages that have motivated me to speak my opinion. My views are mostly based on the fact that I am a part of the educational system here in the VI. THe few remarks that I addressed are to only those who have made them over time. If you were not the one that made them then I am certainly not refering to you. I am a teacher who has worked in several systems in the states both in high and low income areas, and bother as a teahcher and an administrator. I do not feel I am one who can not speak on the quality of any without any baseline for my opinion. I am an advocate for all institutions who are charged with duty to provide education to youth whether it is free and appropriate or if there is a tuition. I am simply discussing the fact that there have been remarks that have been made that come from those who may not have all of the facts, and who make statements that might lead those to believe they may find teaching situations better or worse becuase of a childs environment, culture, economic situation and yes even race. My response has always been the same. There is good and bad in everything. If a teacher has been trained to provide special eudcation services to those students with disabilities they may only have the opportunity to to do in a public school setting. If a teacher feels that they must have a high level of parent support they may want to do so in the private school.

There may even be those teachers who want to assist in soliciting more support from parents and the community and do so in a public school. I am also responding mainly to those who are seeking to teach in the VI more so than to parents who are able to decide what type of school they might feel is best for their children.

Teacher preparation programs generally inform their candidates to be aware of various teaching climates that they may face. What one may see as a dismal situation may be considered by others as an opportunity. I ask that my comments not be viewed as one that will stimulate argument but to broaden a teachers prosepective when selecting or being selected for a teaching assignment. In public or private schools. There are a great deal of things that can be improved upon in the public schools. Of course parents have to choose the best opportunity for their children at least for those who can make a choice.


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Anonymous
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April 10, 2007 3:47 pm  

Melody
I agree with your concern about random statements made on this forum about the public schools in the Virgin Islands. People can often get the wrong impression, especially if this is their only source of information. Too often statements are made that are general in nature and do not reflect well on the public schools.

Anything I say is second hand knowledge. My children did not go to school here and I did not teach here. I was a teacher in the states and I am now retired. My knowledge comes from the news media, conversations and observation.

It appears that the USVI public schools have some serious problems. What causes those problems is up for discussion. As you point out, not all schools, parents, students or teachers share the same characteristics.

It appears to me that many students and their parents do not come to school ready to work and support the system. In the private schools, the parents are required to make a financial commitment and often a personal commitment to enhance there child's education. That to me is the most significant change than should be made. If the public schools required parents to come and volunteer and work for their child's future we would see a vast improvement. I have been told that it will not happen. Public school teachers I have spoken to here all agree that, for whatever reason, the majority of the students and parents in the USVI schools do not have a positive attitude about education. This is particularly true on the secondary level. Let's solve one problem at a time.

I think it is true that many parents, students and teachers in the USVI schools do care. I imagine that it is hurtful to read continued criticism of the schools. All of the positive things you list are true, but I'm sure you know that for every positive in the schools there are two negatives. I think you would agree that criticism is better than ignoring the problems.

Good Luck to you and others who work to make the Schools a better place.


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Melody
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April 10, 2007 3:58 pm  

My point is not to convince people that there are not serious problems with the VI school system> I am not blind to that I again work in the system. I did however pull certain statements directly from those who have made the statements with the attempt to perhaps sensitize those who make them in an area that I feel might need to be re-visited.


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Teresa
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April 10, 2007 4:26 pm  

Melody,

You can honestly say that a family can move from the states to the U.S.V.I. and the child's experience in the public school system will be the same as it was in the states? I have read and reread your post and you seem to disagree with the statement that the U.S.V.I. schools are different than stateside schools. I don't get it. I lived on island for two years with two kids in the public school system in two different schools on STT and I can count the similarities to a stateside school on one hand. I don't understand your reasoning behind your post.

I can agree that there is some stupidity on some posts regarding generalizations of the public schools on the islands, but to say that they are basically the same as stateside schools just doesn't ring true with me. It is the differences that make them bad in some areas and great in other areas. I was quick to remind people that jumping in to change the schools is not entirely a good idea. There are some things that do work and some things that islanders want to keep in the schools that really only work on island. These are some things that make an islander proud. I just don't think that you can say that the island schools are the same as stateside.

For anyone moving to the V.I., I wouldn't want to mislead them into thinking that school was not a major consideration.

Teresa


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Anonymous
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April 10, 2007 4:40 pm  

Melody,

Great post! My post a few days ago addressed this issue on a more personal level. I found it hard to believe when Linda J. mentioned that she only knew ONE child from Complex- public school-who was doing well, and all the successful young adults she knew attends private schools. The MAJORITY of children in the VI attend public school. A statement like this certainly can be misleading and minimize public school student's accomplishments.

I applaud teachers like you who stick it out and try to make a difference. It is my hope that the government begins to address the structural issues that have plagued the public school for years.

As adults we sometimes reflect on individuals who made a difference in our childhood or teen years, often teachers make that list.


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mell
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April 10, 2007 5:01 pm  

I also welcome this dialogue because I think lately the discussion regarding this issue was not quite as well-rounded as it could have been.

In fact, after I posted a few encouraging comments on the thread that Johnnycake is referring too, I received some PM's from parents thanking me for trying to offer some realistic encouragement. They felt that well-meaning posters were erring on the side of being a bit too cautious -- to the point of being discouraging.

I am not currently a parent, but I do know some very bright and accomplished children and young adults -- which is evidence to me that there are at least some positive things happening in the schools around here.

I think parents will find feedback from SuzanneB and Melody, both educators currently working in the VI school system, to be a great addition to this ongoing dialogue.

🙂


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Melody
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April 10, 2007 5:11 pm  

Johnny Cake,

I do not work at Complex, but I just recently had the opportunity to meet two very gifted music students who auditioned for Howard University Marching Band a month ago during the College Fair. One of the students will be majoring in enginereering and has a 3.5 GPA. I hand delivered their admission documents and met with the Dean of Fine Arts. He was so impressed by these two students and wants to assist them with the financial assistance that can be provided by participating in the marching band. Yes you are correct there are others. The hard work is helping them to take advantage of the opportunities that are available for them as they pursue post-secondary education and other positive dreams that they have.

I also had the opportunity to work with a Good Hope student who is also very talented from Good Hope who will be attending a Theater Program in Virginia.

I just wish all of the seniors of the VI the best of luck. We look forward to hearing good things about them as they transition from school to adult living.

I am actually at a leadership conference that begins this evening in the states. I am sure I will participate in some interesting discussion about the state of education all over the US. Perhaps I'll have something to share when I comeback..


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STT Resident
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April 10, 2007 5:25 pm  

It seems from so many posts on this forum that people jump on a post with little aforethought and without properly reading posts which have been made.

Melody, as I said, you made a point but you didn't answer my final question (which I honestly felt was valid) when I said:

"Maybe you were a newcomer who not only successfuly overcame the basic obstacles of relocation but successfully raised children in the public school system here in the last ten years or so, If so, then congratulations are your due. Sharing your experiences on the issue would certainly provide an alternative viewpoint to this ongoing discussion and would be a breath of fresh air and a most helpful guide for many! Cheers."

I'd also add the question, "How long have you taught here in the VI public education system?"

(As a teacher, you might also want to use the spellcheck option on this forum!)

It was obvious from the get-go that your post was bound to raise discussion,

I stlll feel that your initial post was geared more towards defending the public school system in which you're currently and apparently employed as a most well-meaning and dedicated teacher as opposed to addressing potential newcomers' questions,

Kudos to you for your efforts in improving the system! Nonetheless, I would really impress that answering the question(s) asked from the outset would certainly be helpful. Those questions weren't asked in any effort to disparage your position as an educator here, but you seem to be straddled on a fence where any criticism is weighed against your current tenure and the latter self-servingly wins.

You can bet your bottom dollar that if you shifted your attitude about VI education in general and seriously addressed its obvious and well-documented shortcomings with some input regarding a much-needed "fix" you would have the majority of locals and us posters behind you.

If you believe in the inadequacies of the educational system here and have something to offer, then speak out to our new Governor and with our new Senators in the new Legislature.

But please try not to discount the answers to questions of potential relocators with children. If you do so, you're barking up a gnarled old tree and will unfortunately be hammered down bigtime from those who've been here, done that and have the majority of experience from the outside. Cheers.


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Onika
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April 10, 2007 5:53 pm  

I am one of the people who thinks that the public school system leaves much to be desired, yet also think it is unfairly assailed as unique to the VI.

Unless you have a magnet school or some specialized program catering to gifted students, public schools in many urban jurisdictions struggle with issues of budgeting, violence, disrespect for elders/authority, racism, etc.

Is it just 'cause I am from NY that I don't see the big deal here?


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Melody
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April 10, 2007 6:05 pm  

STT Resident - Thank you for your suggesstion about using the spell check not the best typist and sometimes I just do not take the time to edit. I am aware of those who might also be looking as this as well but I am just talking to you through this forum. Lets call it expressive license.

To address your specific question. I am not a parent who has a child in the the VI system. My child graduated a from college a few years ago. I believe that I have tried to explain my position on more than one occasion. I have stated again and again that I am not against any choice for education of children. I am simply stating that there are comments that are stated that are on this boared that motivate me to speak from a different veiwpoint regarding public school education here in the USVI. I have stated time and time again that there are obvious areas that need to be improved upon. I prefer not to list them at this time mainly because the articles from the media and other commentary that will highlight the problems. What I have tried to do is to submit some of the things that students are accomplshing despite the problems.

I have been a teacher in the VI for two years. I read the same articles and did significant research. I have a sister who retired from the same system. I am a former employee of the US Department of Education which has given me the opportunity to look at several pulic school systems. I really was not swayed by the press coverage and other views, opinions, and personal experiences of others. I might add that my entire response has been as from a new teacher to the VI perpective. My decision was based on my personal philosphy of education and teaching. On most teacher application you are asked to share your philosphy.

Yes Yes Yes Yes. I feel frustrated often about so many different compliance, management, standards of delivery, and human resource issues. Put it this way today as you say -- I am defending the positive and hoping for change just as many of you. Looking to see the needed improvements over time. What is wrong with that?


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promoguy
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April 10, 2007 6:05 pm  

My uneducated self says there are two different subjects running on this thread.

If I am incorrect please yell at me.


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Melody
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April 10, 2007 6:09 pm  

It reaaly has been eye opeining today. Talking to everyone while I journey to my conference. You all have made my missed connection and extended stay in the airport more interesting. I look forward to further discussions and more suggestions conerning this issue. I am glad to be a member of this forum.


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STT Resident
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April 10, 2007 7:03 pm  

Dear Melody - OK, you've answered two questions. You didn't raise a child in the VI public school system and you've been teaching in the VI public school system for two years.

You apparently do recognize the major ongoing problems with the VI education system and say, "I feel frustrated often about so many different compliance, management, standards of delivery, and human resource issues. Put it this way today as you say -- I am defending the positive and hoping for change just as many of you. Looking to see the needed improvements over time. What is wrong with that?"

I think you're missing the point here. None of us is NOT defending the positive and in no way is anyone questioning your desire for change. Ergo there is nothing wrong with that.

And my next question is, have you seriously addressed, after two years in our education system the negative issues at hand? Have you stuck out your neck, not only approached the Education Department, the government and the media in general to right what, as an educator, you see as wrong?

What has bothered me and I think others is that your initial post defending the VI public education system was posted on this most unique forum which strives to give advice to newcomers. When children are involved in the move and potential newcomers with children ask for guidance, then truth is of the essence.

Promoguy is absolutely on target when he says, "My uneducated self says there are two different subjects running on this thread. "

Melody, I think via these responses to your initial post that you'll both re-read the thread and get the general flow of opinon.

Hope springs eternal that many of us old posters are directing our opinions to the Governor's office and to the local Senators. Posting on this forum does nothing to create change, You and others need to email the Governor, the VI representatives and the media to make your point. Cheers


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Teresa
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April 10, 2007 7:15 pm  

Melody,

Why you ignore me, I don't know. I am not trying to start a debate nor argument. If you want to sing the praises of the children in the V.I. that is fine, but just so you know: the VI Daily News also does that on almost a daily basis. You can find out who won a spelling bee or graduated with honors, etc. ( http://www.virginislandsdailynews.com/ ) or even on the Source ( http://sts.onepaper.com/ ). This message board is for helping people considering moving to the V.I. If you are going to tell them that the public school system is the same as the ones their kids are attending in the states than I see a huge problem. Realistically the schools will not be the same, enrollment isn't even the same. There are many hardships to overcome and of course after a few years or whatever they may be able to adjust to the V.I. schools. But I feel strongly that newcomers need to know what they face in moving to the V.I. as far as schools are concerned. How islanders are doing and how their kids are doing in school shouldn't be confused with a newcomer's children's education and adaptation.

Teresa


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Linda J
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April 10, 2007 8:05 pm  

Johnny cake,

Please reread my post. I do not KNOW many high-school aged children. I could think of exactly 4, three in private school and one at complex, who was doing well. You seem to have misread that to imply (or is it infer??) that only ONE child at complex is doing well, which is, of course, absurd. They may all be National Merit Scholars for all I know.

But I do stand by my premise, that given the choice, and money being no object, most STX parents of all backgrounds and races would opt for private schooling.

I would ask Melody that question - If you had kids, would they go to the public schools??


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dntw8up
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April 10, 2007 9:17 pm  

I think Melody's point is that there are many, many stateside public schools with problems that rival those in local public schools and I think her point is valid. I also believe that most parents contemplating a relocation from the states to the VI do not have children in stateside schools with such egregious problems and don't really understand the challenges students and educators in such difficult environments routinely face.


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