The opposite of Elaborate University High
, a school that isn't very good at teaching because of budget issues and/or Political Correctness Gone Mad
. Expect the textbooks and the technology to be massively out of date and have Cold War era information
at best. It may or may not be an Assimilation Academy
. The school is often full of ridiculously mean teachers
, bullies of all races, colors, creeds, and social backgrounds, and run by an even worse principal
. The trope is often used to satirize or dramatize how horrible the public school system is (especially if this trope is used in an American work, as parents and adults worrying over the quality of children's education is a major issue).
The Inner City School
is often the victim of this trope. The Boarding School of Horrors
is even worse, especially because you have to live there.
Anime and Manga
- Assassination Classroom distills this into a single class: it turns out the worst students are all stuffed into the same class with an alien teacher so the rest of the school has someone to look down on. When they start improving the school takes measures to keep them down.
- Akehisa High in Kyou Kara Ore wa!!, due the high number of delinquents among their students... As in all of them. They are not the worst school, Hokunei is... Or rather was, as its students burned it down.
- The titular school of Harenchi Gakuen (it translates as "Shameless School"), where the insane teachers go around naked, torment their students and even molest them sexually, and have tried to outright murder them more than once... And the students are just as bad. It's stated there's an international network of such schools, with the Italian one getting shut down (as in bombed to rubble with all students and teachers killed, with only one teacher escaping) at some point and the first part of the series having the Japanese one fall to the same fate.
- The school from the Bash Street Kids in The Beano. One of the cartoon adaptations had the school shut down because of this (it was back by the end of the episode). No one learns, outdated books, falling apart building which has no central heating and (wasn't outdated then) teacher still wearing a mortar board.
- Most of the pupils don't wear a uniform, either (the only one who does is a snobby elitist), and all attempts to get them to do so are farcical.
- The crossover Senpai: A Story of Good Friends has, true to the source material, Furinkan , Tomobiki and Butsumetsu high schools (the latter having a junior high section that is identified as the school Ranma went at before going to China, where students routinely fought for the best meal), well known for their unruly and underperforming students. Turns out someone's doing it on purpose: Asuka Saginomiya runs a switching grades ring, with the grades of the best students from the supposedly lesser schools being switched around for those of people who can pay for the honor of entering the supposedly elite Kolkhoz High. With some of the people screwed up this way being Nabiki and Kasumi. Needless to say, when Kodachi (who has moved to Furinkan after her brother was hospitalized) and her student council (including, among others, Ranma and Nabiki) find out, they're not happy.
- Les Choristes centres on a failed musician, who accepts a job at a school for delinquent boys, the name of which translates to 'Rock Bottom'. It gets better, though- at least until the school burns down.
- In The Faculty, there is a scene early on that takes place at a faculty meeting, where they are deciding how to divide the school's budget. Much to the teachers' chagrin, money that could be used for buying new textbooks or putting on a School Play other than Our Town (which they did last year) is instead directed towards the football team, because, as Principal Drake explains, they live in a football town.
- Shermer High is implied to be this in The Breakfast Club.
- Jerome Horwitz Elementary in Captain Underpants. The school library is shown as being almost completely free of books, with a librarian who discourages reading. The school also has signs posted encouraging mindless conformity. The teachers are also pretty much entirely either idiots or sadists.
- Calvin and Hobbes discuss yet "another typical school day".
- Doonesbury's Walden College is another postsecondary example. It has a worse graduation rate than some for-profit colleges, and once marketed itself as "America's safety school".
- In the latest new daily strips so far (before a hiatus), Walden has become for-profit.
- The Nether Institute Evil Academy, the setting of Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice; Never the mind that it's in the Netherworld and run and attended by demons, but they have a very inverted sense of morality; students who skip class and break rules are Honor Students, whereas unashamed goody two-shoes' are Delinquents. Not only that, but the teachers actually hate teaching, and will fight to keep students from their classes. An NPC even admits that because of this policy, no one has ever graduated (Except for Raspberyl and her posse), and students just keep paying tuition forever.
- Its Updated Re-release, Absence of Detention, gives us Death Institute Majin Academy. Even though it is an elite school meant to raise Majins, the only actual Majins in the school are the Student Body President Stella Grossular and the Chief Director and her father, who has been dead for a long time. In fact, the school has hardly any students and has been in the brink of being shut down. Stella's entire motivation has been to ruin the Evil Academy's reputation so that Majin Academy can get a boost in popularity.
- Bullworth Academy in Bully is filled with corruption, bullying, violence and vandalism, and none of the authority figures seem to care, or even acknowledge it, denouncing it as school spirit.
- In El Goonish Shive, Moperville North High School is run by principal Verrückt in a somewhat crazy way — such as blowing the security budget on propaganda, so there are no sprinklers or fire alarm autodialers, but lots of motivational murals. And then it starts enforcing a dress code, because one minor fight broke out over a student's shirt, which had resolved itself amicably without teacher intervention before the faculty even found out about it.
- Kat from Sequential Art was in one, Catch 22 included.
- Springfield Elementary is regularly noted to be on a shoestring budget, mostly due to Principal Skinner (a Vietnam vet who still has flashbacks of the war and lives with his controlling mother) slashing the budget to the point that the kids drink "malk" and the meat is "Grade F."
- South Park Elementary. Very few teachers (one of them being the bewilderingly incapable Mr. Garrison, even) and all.
- The "Skool" from Invader Zim is regularly acknowledged as both militant and under budget. Illustrative of this are the "hall passes", from the "Dark Harvest" episode, the first being a collar that explodes upon leaving school premises and the "auxilliary hall pass" being a radiator the student is expected to lug around.
- Chris' school on Family Guy uses the textbooks part of the trope as seen on the episode "No Chris Left Behind".
- Tom Landry Middle School in King of the Hill shows budget and policy issues that reflects real life public school system whenever it's brought up by Principal Moss. Examples include a shop class converted into a study room when the school couldn't afford a substitute teacher or equipment, Bunsen burners that aren't hooked up to a gas line, and newly published Texas history textbooks that tells nothing significant about the history of Texas.
- Lawndale High School in Daria, where the paranoid principal, Ms. Li, regularly siphons off funding intended for education into elaborate, expensive and unnecessary security and surveillance systems. She then attempts to make up the shortfall with dodgy get-rich-quick schemes and bogus sponsorship deals. All new pupils are psychologically screened, the teaching staff tend towards being either sugary idealists or burnt-out basket cases with deep-seated personal issues, and extremely bright pupils are mistrusted as they tend to ask awkward questions. Daria Morgendorffer fits as well as a fish on a bicycle, and everyone, including her, knows it.
- CatDog had to go back to one in the episode Back to School. However, this justifies the fact that Cat is treated as The Unfavorite to every teacher in student in that school.
- The Amazing World of Gumball: While the facilities in Elmore Junior High are actually pretty good for a middle school (since the backgrounds come from on a real-life high school), the staff members are the ones who are incompetent/unprofessional/poorly qualified:
- Principal Brown somehow has had his job as principal for 20 years, despite having a fake diploma and is dating one of his workers (Miss Simian), often in school during class hours.
- Miss Simian hates her job as teacher (mostly because she's been assaulted and ostracized for teaching subject matter considered subversive or controversial, such as how to make fire and how to use the wheel, as mentioned on "The Pest"), has very little regard for her students' safety/well-being, and is most likely still a teacher because she's dating Principal Brown.
- Mr. Small, the guidance counselor, is more of an emotional wreck than anyone who comes to see him, dispenses useless advice (even though "The Advice" shows that, unlike most of the teachers at Elmore Junior High, he actually cares about his job and wants to be a good teacher), and is possibly a stoner.
- The school nurse has to put up with Teri the paper bear's hypochondria, Miss Simian treating her like dirt, Gumball and Darwin trotting out tired excuses to get out of gym class, spends most of her time huddled under her desk, trying to re-evaluate her career choices, once prescribed herself heavy sedatives and time off school to get away from Teri, and is not being paid well (cf. "The Parasite", where she tells Gumball she wishes she had a six-figure salary, a cabriolet, and a pension plan).
- The gym teacher/coach is bulky, out of shape, lets her Barbaric Bully of a daughter (Jamie) push people around during class, is most likely lying about her past as an Olympic athlete, and doesn't seem to care when a student gets hurt or can't do anything she assigns them.
- The only competent worker at the school is Rocky, the janitor/bus driver/lost and found clerk/cafeteria worker, though even he can be oblivious and careless on the job, mostly due to listening to music on his Walkman and "The Points" revealed that he spends most of his time in the broom closet eating pizza and spray cheese while listening to rock music.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Master Yu's Earthbending school is an unsubtle parody of North American "McDojos", more interested in flattering its students by handing out meaningless belts and persuading them (or their parents) to hand over extra cash than actually producing proficient benders.
- China, IL: The University of China, Il is called "the worst school in America". The whole student body failed their exams at the end of the semester. The theme song is pretty much a warning about how bad the school is...before adding that the only good thing about the school is the teachers.
- Truth in Television: American public schools were originally created primarily to educate factory workers, not "men of letters". After public education became mostly available, schools were still somewhat bad as the teachers were more focused on "lickin' instead o' larnin", licking meaning paddling.
- This article, written by a recent Oregon high school graduate, illustrates just how sucky American schools can be.
- This was enforced in the American South before schools were integrated. While the "separate but equal" doctrine meant that, in theory, schools for white and black students had to be treated the same way, in practice this was never enforced, and the black schools had the worst of everything — usually the old, worn-out stuff that the white schools were throwing out and replacing. It was this abuse that led to the desegregation of the public school system.
- Due to corruption and shoddy funding (along with a general preferential treatment towards private, usually Catholic-run schools), a large chunk of public schools in the Philippines sadly fit this trope. More often than not one would either find typo-filled textbooks, flip-flopping standards, incomplete classrooms, unfinished buildings or worse all of the above. The irony becomes even more pronounced when one considers the fact that this descended from the original American system...
- Several underperforming schools close every year in New York City.
- For-profit colleges have a reputation for focusing on enrollment and getting students' money and not making any particular effort to encourage successful outcomes.