Schools Are Incompetent
When schools are prominently portrayed as being painfully incompetent in one or more ways.


(permanent link) added: 2011-11-26 23:49:03 sponsor: BlackbirdMizu edited by: McKathlin (last reply: 2011-11-28 11:10:42)

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Maybe the quality of the education is poor. Maybe the teachers don't care. Maybe the school lunches are low quality, or budget spending is frivalous, or the school is lacking in necessary supplies like up-to-date textbooks. Regardless, this trope comes into play whenever a school is portrayed as being painfully incompetent in one or more ways. This trope is not, to any extent, exclusive to Inner City School, and only refers to works where the school's incompetence in some area is directly acknowledged.

This trope has become more common in American media, in response to increasing complaints about the quality of American schools. Most often it's Played for Laughs, though will sometimes be used for drama. When this is brought up in-universe, it's often attributed to lack of funding for the school, though occasionally because the school board just doesn't care. Sadly can be Truth in Television sometimes, as budget cuts often lead to districts cutting funding even to necessary areas.

Live Action TV
  • It's strongly implied that Mc Kinley High School in Glee has a very poor sex education program, especially judging by the characters' "knowledge" (or lack thereof) regarding sex.
    • The school is also apparently bad about funding, though much of it can be attributed to Jerkass cheerleading coach Sue manipulating and crushing other people and clubs to get as much funding for her team as possible. Apparently her pompom budget costs thousands of dollars a month alone.

Western Animation
  • Frequently used in The Simpsons, Played for Laughs, of course.
    • The school lunches are pretty bad, with BATTERIES counting as a vegetable.
    • Principal Skinner once mentions having cut every program that required supplies.
    • The school is often shown having out-of-date textbooks (one even titled "Life In These 38 States") and having a French teacher who doesn't even speak French.
    • This was a plot point in one episode, when Marge visits the school and sees the poor conditions of the classes. One classroom was hilariously overcrowded, and in another classroom, the teacher allows The Ditz to teach the class once she gets her tenure.
  • One episode of King of the Hill has this as a plot point. The students were performing poorly on the standardized tests, and if they didn't do well by the end of the year, the school would be shut down. Instead of trying to improve the education, the principal decides to have the kids with the low scores put in a special needs class so they wouldn't have to take the test. It doesn't go well, and by the end he has no choice but to have more time spent teaching the low-scoring kids. Hilariously, the final scene of the episode reveals that the scores that year were actually LOWER, but the school still got funding and didn't get shut down.
  • Occasionally Played for Laughs in Family Guy. At one point, Lois mentions that the school textbooks are so out-of-date that they refer to the Civil Rights Movement as "trouble ahead". Becomes a plot point when Lois runs for a school board position in hopes to improve the system.

Real Life
  • In the United States, this has increasingly become Truth in Television, as harder economic times have led more school districts to perform budget cuts even in necessary areas.
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