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 Expect the textbooks to be massively out of date and have Cold War era information at best.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 and run by an even worse principal. 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.
- 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 No one learns, outdated books, falling apart building which has no central heating and (wasn't outdated then) teacher still wearing a mortar board.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.
- 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.
- In Glee: Principal Figgins is constantly telling Mr Schue that he can't help out with monetary issues within the Glee Club, and he [the principal] is always talking about the school's very tight budget; however, the reason that the school has no money to spend on costumes and the like is that the Cheerios have their own private photocopier and get their drycleaning done in Europe.
- Outnumbered makes a Running Gag of implying the school Pete teaches at is one.
- Mr D: Xavier Academy looks like an Elaborate University High, but they have the title character as a teacher. And the others aren't that much better.
- Greendale Community College of Community is half this and half just bizarre. There aren't really mean teachers, however. Instead, the faculty seems to be composed of incompetent Cloud Cuckoolanders of every description. There are also money issues:
Dean Pelton: We're broke, Ben! We now get 80% of our electricity from the apartment building across the street!
- In later seasons it comes out that the school is primarily funded by private donations from alumni of the air conditioning repair annex, who go on to blue-collar but relatively well-paying careers in HVAC maintenance.
- Family Ties had Grant College, which Mallory and Skippy attend. Again, no mean teachers but the college is known and shown to be remarkably substandard: their radio commercials mentions it's "conveniently located near several major highways" and they have a class on opening umbrellas.
- Waterloo Road was the worst sort of failing sink secondary modern before an idealistic and capable head (Angela Burton) took over. Even then it was a long road, faced with hostile parents, couldn't-care-less kids, and a hostile LEA.
- 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".
- And yet, according to Watterson in the 10th Anniversary Collection notes, what Calvin's going through is far more pleasant than a job, so one has to wonder whether Calvin's just whining.
- 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 mend 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.
- "Why kids is stupid these days" by Mike Jacobsen. So much is said in two short speech bubbles.
- PieGuyRulz had to spend some time at "University X" (which is a real life college that he refrained from mentioning its real name), featured in his College Confessions series. He went on a 40 minute rant about his bad roommates, along with terrible instructors and cheating students who bragged about stealing toilet paper.
- Detroit Central High School in SOTF-TV is of the budget issues variant. Played in complete contrast to the other school of SOTF-TV, Silver Dragon Academy (a prestigious private school).
- College Humor: There's a fake commercial for the Quendelton State University, where you can get A Degree in Useless in literally thousands of disciplines, renovation projects will take decades to finish, the football team is worthless, and the nearby community is a complete ghost town.
"If we were a good university, we wouldn't need a commercial!"
- Springfield Elementary is regularly noted to be on a shoestring budget.
- 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.
- 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, 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 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 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.
- 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.