Are high school academies desired?

By SB Woman

There are many high school academies at our 3 high schools with little info known by the public. 

1. How much does it cost to be in a SB Unified high school Academy?  Do they cost the same?

  • SBHS has MAD, Computer, Green, VADA, and Culinary
  • SMHS has APPLe, (Academy of Public Policy and Leadership) and Health Academy
  • DPHS has Engineering Academy and maybe others. 

2. What’s the process to get in?  Who decides who gets admitted? Are parents or community on selection committee? 

3. What provisions are there for middle class and poor students? 

Technically public schools don’t charge but it’s understood academies keep bright students in the public system rather than going private to keep our local school rankings high to the benefit of property homeowners and business. 

I saw on-line DPHS has 40% College Ready with 56% math proficient; SBHigh has 39% College Ready and 28% math proficient, and SMHS has 28% College Ready and 33% math proficient.  

4. Why so much low achievement when our schools are all basic aid funded in a high property tax paying wealthy town?   

5. What would happen if academies were closed?  I heard too much money is spent on more administrators and increasing number of District positions and too little on student instruction, and academic programs, as in teachers.   


Written by SBWoman

What do you think?


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  1. 12:22 pm. They should support public education by paying taxes and such just as the rest of us do. They should not be allowed to pick and choose what people and which programs they favor against the public weal. This is only a request for equity and fairness. Don’t load the dice.

  2. RHS – so NO academic programs, beyond what our government pays for from taxes, should be permitted? Are you really saying that? Would you be open to paying higher taxes so our education system didn’t have to rely on donations to educate our children?

  3. Unbelievable that the U.S. is extremely low in the educational ranking list of developed countries worldwide. We have to get a grip on education. Maybe less for the military excesses and tax cuts for the wealthy; whatever it takes to properly teach our children. Good teachers need decent pay and smaller classes. Remember many years ago when a math teacher in a poor district taught his Hispanic students calculus? No one believed it, thought the kids weren’t capable of such “high learning”. Shut into a room by the disbelieving “educators”, the students aced the calculus test they were given. Good teachers are worth their weight in gold!

  4. Information on these academies is available and known to to the public – junior high aged kids deciding on which high school to attend sign up to tour the high schools (they are informed through assemblies given by the counseling department). They take an excused day off from school, “shadow” an existing high school student, and indicate if they would like to check out any of the listed academies, programs, or classes. To answer #1 above, participation in these programs is free – to charge for a public education is illegal! My child graduated from one of these academies.. There was an application to complete and selection was performed by the director, or a committee comprised of the director and the teachers. To include parents in the selection process wouldn’t be wise, in my opinion. Regarding test scores, I believe that there is too much emphasis placed here, as there is so much more to learn in life than what is bureaucratically mandated in a yearly exam. In addition, it takes a toll on student mental health. An academy (focused on the student’s interest) paves a smoother path through these challenging years and prevents disengagement. It is pretty widely known that students of a higher socioeconomic status in general do well on standardized tests and students from poor families & second language learners, do not. This has always been a problem and school officials, the dept of education, etc., have always looked for solutions, for example free preschool, free breakfast/lunch for all, reducing segregation by eliminating the GATE program (they try!) making honors classes available to whomever wishes to take them, etc. Recently, the purpose of SBCC placement testing has become obsolete, as students can take any level of English/math they want, and support is available. This was designed to level the playing field, not to mention free community college for all through “the Promise.”

  5. 4. Not all of SB is thriving. There are a lot of people who barely scrape by living here, working multiple jobs and little to no time to parent, help with homework, and be involved in their child’s education. It’s a sad but true reality for a huge part of our local population.

  6. In a more crowded world parents are willing to cheat and push and fight for a better place for their children. Today’s paper shows Stanford got $770,000 for accepting a Chinese kid who claimed to be an athlete. Parents with such resources are spending huge amounts to have their kids trained as athletes or musicians or given academic help while the less affluent try to compete on the level. Not a fair fight. “Academies” and charter schools are just the obvious point of this conflict. Student who are good in one sport immediately drop out of their local school and enroll at a place that promises them college. Etc. Not sure how to fight it but closing down public money subsidies to these private privilege institutions is a good start.

  7. RHS – these acadamies, especially DPHS’s Engineering Academy, are not “private privilege institutions.” These are simply programs within the public high schools that are now desirable to be in.

  8. 10:52 a.m. DPHS’s Academy selectively accepts students and by definition excludes students. Not all public school kids are equal despite the claims (to paraphrase “Animal Farm.”) It is also my understanding that substantial “funding” is provided to that “Academy” by private contributions from families and businesses lobbied by the families. No such resources are available for the regular student trying to get a handle on algebra or auto mechanics.

  9. RHS – yes, they “select” students based on academic achievement and interviews, so what? Not all kids are able to handle the rigors of certain specialized programs (that’s why not every person on Earth is an engineer). That’s not a “private privilege,” it’s a selective program. You really think we should shut down ALL programs (academic and otherwise) that do not accept all applicants? As for your “understanding” that families fund these academies, where’s your proof? We pay for these programs through our property taxes, just as we pay for public schools in that manner.

  10. RHS – So what’s your point? Institutions who receive donations should not be allowed? That’s absurd. If public school funds aren’t enough, why shouldn’t businesses, individuals and other entities be able to help support advanced programs?

  11. If anyone who wants to participate is the criteria in the interest of promoting universal access, I want to be a basketball player. I need the money and qualify as a minority: white, female and I may have arthritis in my fingers, so, handicapped, too.

  12. 693–YES to paying more taxes for schools. Certainly I would be happy to give some of what money is now taken from me to subsidize college sports, professional athletic stadiums, war preparation and other stuff to K-12 schools for all. And for those who give to “private” schools maybe it would be nice to see if they would do so absent tax benefits.

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