The best high schools in the U.S. are at this link. There are charters and regular public. They are not in the “super smart” places you might guess. They are in Kentucky, Florida (2), Arizona (2), Texas (2) & Virginia.
Two on the list are Basis charter schools. They are criticized for having larger class size and not being completely transparent about finances, but who cares? When Lincoln was told that Ulysses S Grant was a drunk, he reportedly ask what brand of whiskey he drank so that he could send it to his other generals.
Whatever they are doing, we should study and try to copy and adapt to other schools. I think we have a bad habit when talking about social problems in general and education in particular. We look at the bad performers and losers and ask what keeps them down. A better tactic would be to look to successful performers and ask what they do right.
Leo Tolstoy wrote, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” This is not a mere literary truism. It is based on the idea that there are a an infinite number of ways to screw up, but a much smaller set of things to do right. That is it is smart to work from positive examples and avoid being tinged by bad ones.
In my experience, most negative people dislike positive ones. I think that tendency explains much of the losers’ “bad luck.” To them, a positive success is a kind of insult. It points to the fact that they are screwing up in ways the prefer not to change. There is also a lot of envy involved. Maybe we cannot avoid the deadly sin of envy in all our personal transactions, but we should base policy on copying and adapting the best.