March 01, 2001 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Cream of the Crop: At the Illinois Math and Science Academy, a public high school 35 miles west of Chicago, several hundred handpicked students receive “a private-school-quality public education,” writes Meredith Maran in “A Perfect High” in the online magazine Salon. Established by the Illinois General Assembly in 1985 to educate top-rung students in math, science, and technology, IMSA, Maran reports, spends $20,000 per year to educate each student, more than twice what most American public high schools pay.

“The student population and the classes are small, gender-balanced, and ethnically diverse,” writes Maran, author of Class Dismissed. “The teachers are handpicked, well-paid, and methodically evaluated; testing is frequent and rigorous"; and 99 percent of graduates go on to college, she adds. In short, it’s a fabulous school, but Maran asks the inevitable question: Is it fair?

“Whether one sees IMSA as admirable or elitist, or both, the contrast between IMSA and the typical high school raises disturbing questions. Is it only our ‘gifted’ children who deserve an IMSA- quality education? If tomorrow’s nuclear physicists are worth $20,000 a year to us, how much should we spend on tomorrow’s dancers, or teachers, or bus drivers?”

Maran concludes that a school like IMSA “proves that we know how to educate our children and educate them well. We know how much it costs, and when we decide it’s worth paying for, we know how to find the money.”

Eager Beavers: New York, the city of ambition, has always been full of hard-working young people striving to get ahead in their chosen careers. Now, reports Deborah Netburn in the January 29 edition of the New York Observer, affluent teens have jumped on the bandwagon.

“Gone are the days when working as a lifeguard or a baby sitter was considered a legitimate, even productive, way to spend a summer,” Netburn writes. No, these days private school teens have bigger fish to fry.

A 15-year-old sophomore at the Collegiate School says he plans to get a job at Bear Stearns, the investment banking firm, this summer to “get a leg up” in the business and to make some money. Marissa Petrou, 16, spent last summer working in Washington, D.C., as an intern at ISD/Shaw, a financial consulting company. Her current after-school internship is assisting a researcher at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Jennifer Kallus, a senior at Stuyvesant High School, hopes to get an internship at the Museum of Modern Art this spring. Her résumé, Netburn writes, “boasts drawing classes at the Met, an Israel Scouts Summer Teen Program, attendance at the New York State Summer School for the Arts, a semester spent in Germany, and several art and writing awards.”

Such overachieving students, Netburn believes, are “products of the entrepreneurial ‘90s, when even socialites had cubicles somewhere.” But is this healthy? David Borus, dean of admissions at Vassar College, says, “I’m of the opinion that any real-world work experience that a student can get along the way is all for the good.”

Still, child psychologist Steve Yarris counters, “Adolescence is a time of finding yourself, getting independence, and establishing a social self,” all of which “can be precluded by jumping into work.”

—David Hill


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Assessment Webinar
The State of Assessment in K-12 Education
What is the impact of assessment on K-12 education? What does that mean for administrators, teachers and most importantly—students?
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Centering the Whole Child in School Improvement Planning and Redesign
Learn how leading with equity and empathy yield improved sense of belonging, attendance, and promotion rate to 10th grade.

Content provided by Panorama
Teaching Profession Webinar Examining the Evidence: Supports to Promote Teacher Well-Being
Rates of work dissatisfaction are on the rise among teachers. Grappling with an increased workload due to the pandemic and additional stressors have exacerbated feelings of burnout and demoralization. Given these challenges, what can the

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: January 12, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education School Bus Driver Retires After 48 Years Behind Wheel
Charles City school bus driver Betty Flick sat behind the wheel for the final time last week, wrapping up a 48-year career for the district.
3 min read
Charles City school bus driver Betty Flick poses with one of her farewell signs. Flick has been driving for Charles City School District for 48 years.
Betty Flick quickly fell in love with the job and with the kids, which is what has had her stay in the district for this long.
Courtesy of Abby Koch/Globe Gazette
Education Briefly Stated: December 1, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: November 17, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read