I certainly have some issues with my son's school. A week and a half into his sophomore year the world hasn't collapsed, so I'm not going to complain too loudly--but they do some odd things there.
First, they're on a block schedule--they have 4 90-minute classes a day. A year-long class at an "ordinary" school is only half a year long at his school, but they get credit for a year's worth of material. Let's do the math: they're in class 1.5 times as long per period as students at a traditional school (90 min vs. 60 min), but only half the number of days per class. That comes out to 3/4 of the amount of time per class to learn the material as they'd have at a "traditional" school.
Even better, they get entirely new classes in January. So a student who takes geometry August through January has been force-fed a year's worth of material, but the state standardized test isn't given until late April, giving the student plenty of time to forget the material because by the time the test rolls around they haven't seen geometry in 3 months.
One advantage of this block schedule is that students get 8 different classes a year, as opposed to only 6 at a school like mine. Teachers love it, because they have only 3 classes a day (plus a 90 minute prep period) whereas I have 5 classes a day (and only a 60 minute prep period). How our union can tolerate this inequity, I don't understand!
Besides the block schedule there's a second thing they do screwy. Far be it from me to challenge another teacher regarding what goes on in their class--I wouldn't tolerate it if someone were to tell me how I should run my classes--but I'll comment on that screwiness here.
Have you ever heard of an "interactive notebook"?
First off, what the heck is "interactive" about a notebook? "Interactive" is one of those overused words in English--the menu screens on my DVD's aren't "interactive", either, unless interactive means "you push the button and the scene you want pops up". If that's the new meaning of "interactive", then my garden hose is "interactive" because when I open the faucet the water pours out.
Ok, so we know an "interactive notebook" isn't interactive, but what is it? Well, it's a notebook in which you store all your homework assignments, worksheets, notes, and stuff like that. Everything has to be in the correct order and on the correct page, noted in the Table of Contents, or you get marked down. And the winner? Students cut/paste papers into their notebooks.
Remember, they have only 3/4 of the class time as is available at my school to teach exactly the same content to the exact same (in theory) standards. Why are they spending time having 15 and 16-year-olds cutting and pasting in class? Who thinks that's a productive use of student time in anything but an art class? I admit, I doubt I can be sold on the supposed benefits of these workbooks, but even if there are benefits, I just cannot believe they outweigh the wasted time.
On the plus side, I like the enthusiasm and dedication shown by my son's teachers. He likes them, too. I guess that's something, an important something.