Posted by anonymous, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Jun 8, 2009 at 8:57 pm
NOBODY is saying grades don't matter.
There has to be something in the middle.
I noticed an array of lovely photos in one of our PA newspapers, happy HS grads from OTHER local cities, and I can assure you that Mountain View HS and Los Altos HS are just as high quality as Gunn and PALY. Why are these grads so natural and genuinely happy?
Yet, there IS a difference living in PA.
Some of us have been disillusioned by the discovery of ethical lapses (by PAUSD parents) like one of my pet peeves, extreme, under the table paid tutoring in advance of the high school (advanced level) curriculum; it isn't a level playing field. Some teens are extremely pressured to perform (whether top grades and school awards, the famous national Math contest, other awards -- a real emphasis on "winning") In our experience, such students are often average students who gain a real advantage over others who have to study and learn in the classroom and do the homework.
One HS teacher decided to move ahead in the (advanced course) curriculum because so many students were yawning in class; most had been tutored and WERE bored but what about the students who were taking the course and earning their grades? They respected and NEEDED the teacher to teach the course!
It is often contrived.
It isn't an issue of recognizing that life isn't fair. It is a situation of being discouraged by overly competitive peers here who often emphasize their advantages at the expense of others. In our experience, there is little genuine caring or kindness. There is canny planning on the part of many parents to develop their kids as "winners" over their peers.
I have previously written of my belief it is inappropriate to constantly brag about private matters, SAT scores for example, (esp when you first took it in 7th grade to get into Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth...at parents' requirement, of course....)
A kid who gets out there and does something unique or unusual, or who even gets his or her own job DOES impress me, make no mistake.
But around here I have instead encountered a superior teen who told me he had a fancy job; when I inquired in detail in turned out to be mom's high-tech firm. Wonder if that was disclosed on all the college apps?
We are associated with a many high achieving people who are more natural, that's all I can say, and they are not from Palo Alto.