Montgomery Blair High School's Online Student Newspaper
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June 17, 2010

America's best

by Anya Gosine, Online Managing, Op/Ed and Food Editor
Like most other Blazers, I do have a fair amount of complaints regarding our school; the endless wait to use a computer in the library, the lousy school lunches, the annoying barking of security guards and the utter frustration of not having any paper towels (or worse - toilet paper) in the bathrooms, just to name a few.

Newsweek's "America's Best High Schools" featured 1,600 schools - six percent of all the public high schools in the U.S. Courtesy of Getty Images
Newsweek's "America's Best High Schools" featured 1,600 schools - six percent of all the public high schools in the U.S.
But when you take a look from another perspective, our school is really not so shabby. Yesterday, Newsweek released its annual "America's Best High Schools" list, a list of the best public high schools in the U.S. This year's list is comprised of about 1,600 schools, which is six percent of all the public schools in the nation. Blair fell at 139th – just shy of the top 100 in the nation.

Seven Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) did make it in the top 100 and were the only schools from the state of Maryland to do so: Richard Montgomery is 33rd, Poolesville is 59th, B-CC is 63rd, Churchill is 75th, Wootton is 83rd, Whitman is 85th and Walter Johnson is 95th. In fact, all 25 of MCPS high schools ranked in the top three percent of the nation.

Sure, I've always heard from teachers about how superior the Montgomery County system is and how fortunate we are to be receiving the education that we do and I suppose this list is just provides more tangible proof. It is a given that Newsweek's measurements can't accurately capture the quality of schools (they mainly take into account the number of graduates and Advanced Placement (AP)/International Baccalaureate (IB) tests given at each school - nothing about quality of teachers or extracurriculars), but to see that Blair is the 8th best school in the state of Maryland does instill a sense of pride.

But putting Blair's 139th place glory aside, a more significant concern comes to mind. Why does such a minute percentage of America's schools qualify for Newsweek's list? The bare standard for a school to be ranked on Newsweek's list is for half of its students to take one AP, IB or Cambridge test in their junior year and one in their senior year. This means that 94 percent of public high schools do not meet this standard - which is not an inspiring statistic.

This list also highlights some other issues pertaining to American education, particularly how the “culture” regarding education differs around the country. It is no surprise that many of the top schools are in large states like Texas and California, but it is notable that states like Louisiana and Mississippi have only two schools on the list and North Dakota none. And even though many states like Maryland and those in the Northeast are small, they have many more schools on the list.

The U.S. certainly has top-notch education institutions, many being the best in the world. But Newsweek's list indicates a dire need to improve the nation’s secondary school system; if we think that the schools in our area have problems, try to think of the challenges facing students of the other 25,000 public high schools in America. It is up to our generation and future generations to change that. For now, I will probably still walk into Blair gagging at the vomit-pink color of the classroom walls and rolling my eyes when the Promethean boards bleep with error messages, but I certainly won’t be taking my education for granted.

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  • NetCast (View Email) on June 26, 2010 at 7:20 PM
    Thanks for reporting about this! Blair has been in the top 400 in the past few years, but 139th place is the highest it's been (in the past 7 years at least). It would be great if some research could be done to find historic rankings for MBHS, how they changed over time, and what our highest ranking ever was. For example, in 1960 B-CCHS was the best school in the entire nation! Of course, there were fewer schools back then, but who would've known that without some research?
  • Blazerr (View Email) on July 26, 2010 at 2:35 PM
    Great article Anya!! A good follow up to this article would be looking into schools outside of the States, and how we compare! I loved the last paragraph especially!!
  • anne (View Email) on July 27, 2010 at 11:07 PM
    avve gr r huan oui oaj
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