What is the US education system like?

I have recently been offered a Green Card and I’m considering teaching in the US. I am a qualified teacher in the UK. I’m looking for advice about the public school system in the US, what kind of teachers they are looking for, which is the most interesting area/city to live in, etc. I don’t know much about the country so I’d be grateful for any help. Please email me gbongiovi@hotmail.com.

I think there is a great deal of variety in the public schools, from state to state, and even within states.

Then there are the many private schools.

Yours is a difficult question to answer.

IT sucks. The government, local, state and federal don’t put enough money in it. Just like the leevees in New Orleans, it’s gonna breakdown due to governmental cut backs. Each year they have some new ass slogan for us to think they are doing their job :unamused: “It takes a village to raise a child” “No Child left behind” “Reading is key” all that BS.

Okay rant over If you want to know, you should decide on what city you would be interested in working in because the school systems/districts are all governed by local/state laws. They aren’t the same in terms of pay. Most school boards have websites. Best of luck.

It varies greatly.
Many are excellent, some are mediocre and some are horrible.

The teachers union has beat down standards and lowered the bar in most situations.

Private schools are a beacon of hope.
It depends on why you are in the buisiness.

A close friend had a nervous breakdown when assigned to a public junior high school teaching position in NYC while in his early 20’s.

It’s not for everyone.

My only recommendation is to locate the public school district in highest income bracket neighborhood your are planning to relocate to or look for a position in “magnet” public schools.

If you get a position in the inner city within a low income neighborhood, be prepared for the worst.

If you have a few years of teaching experience, I would recommend that foreigners look for administrative jobs that help American school districts improve their school boards – jobs that teach teachers how to teach.

Some friends of our family from Australia (I lived in Australia for two years when I was growing up), consult the NYC Board of Education (Australian teachers are good teachers)…they make 150K each (couple)…300K/year – virtually all of it tax free.

There is money in education in the states.

[quote=“TainanCowboy”]It varies greatly.
Many are excellent, some are mediocre and some are horrible.


That has been my experience as well.

[color=red]Wear a flak jacket and arm yourself. Best advice I can give.[/color]


[color=red]Wear a flak jacket and arm yourself. Best advice I can give.[/color]

Especially if you decide to teach in Colorado.

Do you know what state you’ll be in? Urban/suburban/rural area? Things can vary bigtime from one classroom to another within a single school, and will even moreso between schools, districts, cities, and states. The one thing I hear older teachers from all areas complain about though is the lack of respect that some students (and parents) have for teachers.

My husband taught secondary school science in the UK previously, and from what I gather, it’s not exactly a walk in the park there either. So, if you have teaching experience in the UK, you won’t be walking blindly into the “I rule the school” student mentality in the US, where teachers are basically powerless.


[quote]The time has come for closing books and long last looks must end
And as I leave I know that I am leaving my best friend
A friend who taught me right from wrong and weak from strong
That’s a lot to learn,
What, what can I give you in return?

If you wanted the moon
I would try to make a start
But I, would rather you let me give my heart
To you, with love

Those schoolgirl days of telling tales and biting nails are gone, yeah
But in my mind I know that they live on and on and on and on
But how do you thank someone
Who has taken you from crayons to perfume?
Well it it’s not easy, but I’ll try

If you wanted the sky
I would write across the sky in letters
That would soar a thousand feet high
To you, with love

Those awkward years have hurried by, why did they fly, fly away?
Why is it Sir, children grow up to be people one day?
What takes the place of climbing trees,
And dirty knees, in the world outside?
What, what is there that I can buy?

If you wanted the world,
I’d surround it with a wall, I’d scrawl
These words with letters ten feet tall
To you, with love[/quote]

That’s pretty much on point, especially in Chicago. My stepmom was a teacher, and the days where the being sent to principal or being suspended is a joke. These kids are smarter than some ACLU lawyers, theses days when it comes to working the system.

Of course everyone’s right that one can’t easily answer your question about what US schools are like, because there are a million or so schools to choose from and they range from pure hell to fantastic, even within a single state or district.

And this question is equally difficult to answer.

I suggest you start researching travel books, magazines and Websites on the US to start getting a feel for the country. The US is huge, is made up of many very different regions, each has its own positive and negative qualities, but a large part of the decision – which area is best – depends on your personality and preferences.

Do you want to live in one of the world’s greatest cities, with endless restaurants, theater, museums, culture, nightlife, shopping, crime and noise? Try New York.

Do you want to kick back on the beach, tanning your gym-toned body and artificial breasts, before cruising around around the freeways showing off your bitchin’ wheels? Try L.A.

Do you want to freeze your ass off in the winter, with 10 feet of snow and temperatures of 30 below (with wind chill), so you can’t drive to work or open the frozen door to your house? Try New England.

Do you want to live a life of quiet, boring desperation surrounded by wholesome, god-fearing, middle-class white people who have never been outside of their state, much less the US? Try the whole central US.

It all depends on what you like.

I wish I could get my husband hooked on Forumosa so that he could contribute to this…I wonder if the classroom rules are the same in the UK as the US. They have so many rules in the UK about everything.

If you want to give detention (which is frowned upon), another teacher must be present in the class at all times. So, in essense, you have to ask another teacher to stay after hours. How many teachers will want to ask another to do that for them?

No shouting at students. And, if you are vocally disciplining a kid, they must be at least one table length away from you, so that s/he has the opportunity to “escape.”

No suspensions or kicking kids out of school (the school loses money if this happens).

If someone severely misbehaves, they can be sent to a room for in-house detention, which they thoroughly enjoy because they get to sit in a room with all of the other misbehaving kids for the day…fun for them!

Swearing/foul language is tolerated (even when directed at the teachers).

When my husband was doing his PGCE, he was observing his mentor one day when a 16 year-old lad got pissed off with the teacher because he was asked repeatedly to straighten his tie. After telling the teacher to “f**k off” twice, he picked up his huge hard-cover science book and threw it at the teacher, hitting him in the face and leaving a nice, deep, 2 inch gash right below the teacher’s eye. The kid was sent to in-house detention for the day, that was all.

I have friends who teach in the US, but I haven’t talked to them much about the rules and regulations (I see them so infrequently now)…but I do have one friend who quit teaching because he was sick of the students’ threats of litigation for every little thing.

I am so glad that I grew up when I did!

sorry for being a bit off-topic here! :stuck_out_tongue:

I think most, though not all, U.S. schools give the teachers more power than the above description of UK schools, though with every lawsuit or accusation teacher’s autonomy decreases. One of the big things for teachers that might be hard to get a feel for is whether the administration will have your back when you send a kid to the office. I’m 7 years removed from HS now (in a suburban part of the South) but when I was there the teachers could count on reinforcement from the administration. That’s not the case in all schools, particularly in places where there’s a history of lawsuits or local political problems being played out in schools.

As for where to go, man, too big a country to say. Play around with google a little though and you can find rankings for just about anything: best weather, nightlife, educational environment, quality of life, salaries, etc. I personally like the Western part of the country because there’s more mountains and fewer crowds (except in LA).

Ginnylu, one of the concerns you should probably have is whether your teaching qualifications will be recognized in the US. Some states may consider a UK PGCE as sufficient for granting a teacher’s license, but my bet is that many states will tell you to go back to school. If you’ve done your PGCE in the past decade or so, you’ll find most MEd programs in the states a waste of time. The biggest problem for you in many states will be that the practicum for a UK PGCE is shorter than what is required in the US. In my opinion, the quality of the practicum in most UK PGCEs is better than what most US teachers do since it is not done as an afterthought to having one’s head crammed with theory for a year or more. Unfortunately, education departments are usually just looking for one thing when they evaluate the practicum on a license application: length. I suggest that you enquire with education departments in a few states to find out if they will grant a teaching license to a PGCE holder. Good luck.

One of the best hints I’ve heard as far as finding a teaching post is to work in a school like the one you grew up in. If you went to a rural school, you’ll be in for culture shock working in an inner-city school and vice versa.

I am one week away from finishing my teaching practicum here in the states. I live in the Washington DC area, and there is a huge demand for ESOL teachers. In fact, the state of Maryland has declared it a critical shortage area, which means you can start teaching without a license, as long as you

Ok, I’ve spent a lot of time in the area and no doubt there’s a bigtime need for ESOL teachers all over DC & the suburbs. I don’t know where you’re at now but Montgomery County would seem like the preferred place in Maryland (unless you’re the more adventurous type and would want to go to Prince George’s). Anyway good luck with everything. Oh, and if you like Taiwanese food the best place in the area is a place called Bob’s Noodles 66 off highway 355 near Downtown Rockville.