Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Little School That Could

 Old School indeed

Forty years ago when I was at St Michael's High School suffering discipline at the wrinkled hands of scary nuns you could learn a lot about another school from their basketball team.  Back then Hopkins Acadamy was a winner.

So it comes as no surprise that they hold up well when compared academically to the paragon of education in the Happy Valley, Amherst Regional High School.  According to SchoolDigger.com, using the new MCAS scores just announced, ARHS has a rating of 123 out of 325 or top 38% in the state.  Hopkins Academy on the other hand has a ranking of 94/325 or top 29%

But the astounding difference is in the financial component of each operation.  According the Mass Dept of Education website, Amherst is in the top 11% statewide for costs per student at $17,916 while our neighbors in Hadley manage to run their schools coming  in at the bottom 1% for costs, or $9,770  per student.

Thus Hadley educates its 301 middle and high schools students for a cost savings of $2,508,233 had they been enrolled in the ARHS and ARMS.  Of course one telling difference is Hadley only has one administrator making over $85K and the Amherst Region has over 20.

Yes, Hadley has less of a minority population and a much higher percentage of home ownership (three quarters vs Amherst's one half).  But they still have farms, like they did 40 years ago, so kids can learn the value of hard work.  And that is priceless.

Tale of the Tape according to US News:

Hopkins Academy

Amherst Regional High School


Anonymous said...

No one cares anymore. The people in town who can send their kids away are doing it. The people who can’t, find solace that it is not much better anywhere else There are those in complete denial and those who the Amherst system actually works for who don’t get what is wrong with people who complain all the time. What a mess. The type of divided mess our schools require to grown unchecked.

Many administrations and SC members have realized that if you wait long enough the complainers go away and you are left with an anemic, apathetic, populace with an undertone of bitchyness. Complacency, the stuff that fuels the fire and emboldens administrators to give out bigger raises leading to bigger pensions. Couple that with a do what every you want approach to teaching and what do you get? Amherst, the gem of western Mass. It is good to be in the bloated average school.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't much better 40 years ago either, why do you think you were sent to St. Mikes. Duh!

Dr. Ed said...

It actually is more to Hadley's credit for a couple more things.

First, does Amherst's cost per child include the Federal money that it gets because of the poor/minority children?

Second, you really can't use the percentage of owner/occupancy with Amherst because of the UM student rental factor. Hence, I would instead look at Section 8 subsidy numbers, a harder number to nail down - Amherst still being higher than Amherst but not as high.

Third, the flip side of being a farming community is the siren song of cash -- these kids aren't working for free and a lot of them would rather make money than go to school.

Fourth, I don't think that Hadley is getting any help/assistance from the UM School of Education while I am sometimes unable to quite see the wall of separation between it and Amherst, even post Mark's Meadow.

Fifth, what is the percentage of residents in both towns with a college degree, let alone a terminal degree? (A)Parents with a college degree tend to stress the same for their children, (B) parents who wish they had one *really* stress education for their children, and most importantly (c) voters with college degrees are more willing to vote overrides for schools.

Someone in Amherst saying "we are spending too f***ing much money on the schools" would be publicly condemned. Someone saying that in Hadley likely would be bought a beer. In which community would you prefer to try to raise money for schools?

Amherst should be cleaning Hadley's clock - and it isn't. What does that say????

Dr. Ed said...

My guess is that Larry was sent to St. Mikes because Amherst (back then, pre-BigUMass) was a Protestant town with four Congregational churches along with assorted other Protestant denominations -- and this was back when one listed ones religion on the resume.

My guess is that Amherst hired Protestants for its public schools, and that like a lot of other Catholic children, he was sent to St. Mikes so that he wouldn't be corrupted by the evil Protestants.

This was pre-Vatican II and one can not comprehend today the hatred that existed -- both Protestants and Catholics were told they would go STRAIGHT TO HELL if they merely set foot into the other's church. The Catholic schools (and colleges) weren't set up because they did a better job (even though they do) but to raise Catholic children as Catholics without any Protestant influence.

Anonymous said...

Ed, have you ever had a real discussion with a living human? Your elevator don't go all the way to the top there son! Give it a rest.

Larry Kelley said...

Yep. That, and my mother was a public school teacher in the early 1950s.

Dr. Ed said...

Ed, have you ever had a real discussion with a living human? Your elevator don't go all the way to the top there son! Give it a rest..

Would discussions at a conference hosted by a well-respected "think tank" count? Maybe Amherst was different than other parts of Western Massachusetts in the 1950s but it is a fact that Amherst had four Congregational churches and that's more than most communities I know of.

Larry, if I can find that cartoon of the Bishops as sharks, I will send it to your AOL account.

Anonymous said...

I was told recently that one of the recent past graduating classes from Hadley had 98% of the class continuing on to college.

Hey, it's only your money. said...

"It is good to be in the bloated average school."

Dude, you outta see em smiling on pay day.


Anonymous said...

Do you have any idea what the drop out rates are for Amherst, Hadley and other neighboring schools? I wasn't able to find them.

Anonymous said...

From the DESE web site for 2011.

Approx. No.
Hadley had 98% graduate
Amherst had 91%

From 2010 (latest no. available)

To college Hadley 91%
Amherst 82%

See links:



If you look in the column on the left side you will see menu labeled "graduates attending higher ed"

Maybe Amherst kids should choice into Hadley.

Anonymous said...

Why did the Gazette and Bulletin whitewash these numbers?

Anonymous said...

The drop out rates are also in the DESE web site. Around 2% to 3% for both towns. Not much different but we spend a whole lot more to get those results. Of course 2% in Hadley is 1 kid. 2% in Amherst will be 6 or 7.

Anonymous said...

Also keep in mind about Amherst's drop out rates, some kids bail early, after eighth grade. Those numbers never show up in the high school stats because they never were in high school. Also keep in mind the number of immigrants from south of the border where education is not valued. I know that will tick some people off. But it's the truth.

Anonymous said...

Comparing Amherst to Hadley is like comparing apples to oranges. The make-up of the population is so vastly different you can't compare the two and make any meaningful inferences from that comparison.

The Ellie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...


If you want a better comparison go check out Northampton. Similar results in a population with a lower education level. They spend about $4,000 to $5000 less than we do. So either they are super efficient or we just suck at good use of tax dollars.

Anonymous said...

Hadley and Amherst used to be tied for MCAS scores. Does Amherst High have declining scores or is Hopkins rising?

The Falsely Defamed Dr. Ed said...

This might be worth looking at -- scroll down to page 36 on the PDF, Pg 1 on the actual document, and then look at the next few pages.

Amherst, it would appear, is eligible for a good chunk of Title 1 and Title 3 funds -- which if Maria G is competent, the district and town schools are getting.

Are these funds calculated in the cost per child Larry? (I doubt it as this is really off-budget money that isn't approved by the town meeting.)

It would be interesting to calculate the Amherst per-child costs both with and without the Fed Funds.

See: http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/disadv/nclb-targeting/nclb-targeting.pdf