Mexico City, Mexico Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico 10/13/20

Background Information:

1. Are you the parent of a child(ren) attending this school? A teacher at the school? Or both?

I was both.

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2. What grade or grades do/did your children attend at the school? During what year(s) did they attend the school?

2nd grade and 6th grade. 2017-2019.

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3. What years did you live here?

2016-2019.

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4. What was your reason for living in the city where the school is located (e.g., government, military, corporate, NGO, retired)?

Government.

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5. Are other schools available to expatriates in this city? Why did you choose this particular school?

We chose this school because the other school we considered reported many bullying issues.

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Admissions & Welcome:

1. Are the admissions and placement procedures clearly stated to prospective families, either on the school website or through other means of communication?

Yes, however, it seems they said whatever it took to get you in the door.

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2. How would you rate the school's support and welcome/integration of new students and their families, and why?

Students who speak little Spanish were not well-integrated, in my opinion. The Spanish teachers do not do ANY type of accommodations or structure the class for all levels of learning. In my experience, the school does not communicate well. It often has misspelled words and contradicts itself in newsletters or other written communication.

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Administration & School Procedures:

1. How is the overall communication between teachers and parents, and the administration and parents? How is communication facilitated?

I don't think that many of the administrators have been trained as administrators or educators. Many people value them because they have been there for a long time. However, I don't think their background lends itself well to what they and the school are trying to accomplish.

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2. Aside from school fees, are there required expenses such as uniforms, laptops/tablets, musical instruments, or field trips that parents are expected to cover? What are the approximate costs?

Uniforms and certain notebooks and books are required. I find that the school is lacking in any type of technology and still has a "computer class" on old computers.

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Academics & Resources:

1. What personal or academic counseling resources are available at this school? Is there a dedicated college counselor at the school? Is he/she familiar with universities worldwide?

The counselors are there for Spanish-speaking students looking to go to school in Canada or Mexico and in the US. There is VERY little support here in my opinion. I would NOT send my highschoolers to this school.

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2. Is there before and/or after-school daycare available? What are the costs?

No. There are some after school activities but very few and none have transportation.

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3. Does the school have a library? How large is it? How updated are the books? Can students borrow books to read at home?

The library is extremely old and very FEW newer books. Most books are old, damaged, and have stains on them. This seems to reflect poor choices of previous administrators.

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4. What are the technology requirements for students? Do they need their own laptops/ipads? How is technology integrated into the classroom and homework?

Absolutely not. They had just begun considering electronics because new teachers came in and demanded more.

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5. How are information technology resources at the school. Are they up-to-date? Is there a computer lab?

No, the computer lab is old and there should not be a "computer class". Technology should be integrated into the classes. There are only 10 iPads for the entire elementary to share.

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6. Describe the physical education resources at the school. Is there a gym? A swimming pool? Are there playing fields or tennis courts available?

There are a pool and a gym. The pool has been shut down due to a child's death there last year.

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7. What is the approximate teacher-to-student ratio in the grades that your child attended?

Sadly in the campus at Carpatos, it is 20 to 1. However, the classrooms seem to be the size of a small bedroom. The students do not fit and are all smushed together in one room. Santa Fe rooms are much better fit.

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8. Are Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses available in upper grades? If this is an IB school, is the full diploma required of all students?

IB is available but I find you need to do your due diligence on this. Carefully consider the teachers teaching. In Mexico, the HS teachers do not have to have ANY teaching experience, just a degree in the field they are teaching. Meaning a science teacher may be a scientist that knows nothing about IB or teaching.

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9. Are students generally challenged appropriately by the curriculum? Please describe any particular strengths or weaknesses in this area. Do you have any thoughts how the curriculum is applied and implemented at this school?

What curriculum? It is in shambles in my opinion. There was not even a reading or writing curriculum for the elementary until the last year we were there and they finally bought SOME books. I find that administration politics often interfere with care for students and curriculum.

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10. Is the amount and type of homework generally appropriate for the age and grade of the students?

It varies. It completely depends on the teacher. The policy is not checked on and there is little communication or collaboration between teachers.

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11. What fine arts electives are available (music, drama, visual arts)?

Music, art, and elementary have a great drama teacher at Carpatos but at Santa Fe it is lacking. High school is not a good program for any, in my opinion.

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12. Are the teachers at the school required to speak English as a first language--or at least fluently?

No. Several of the Spanish teachers refused to speak English and seemed annoyed if you did not know Spanish well.

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13. What services are available for gifted/advanced students at the school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

None.

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14. What services are available for students with learning disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

There used to be some, however, the lead teacher at Santa Fe in this area has no formal educational background.

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15. What services are available for students with physical disabilities at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

NONE in Carpatos and few in Santa Fe.

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16. What services are provided for speakers of English as a second language at this school? Please describe your experience with these services, if applicable.

There is an ESL program, that, in my opinion, is broken and in need of an overhaul. I think that many of the teachers at Carpatos are friends of the principal and have little experience teaching much less teaching ESL. Someone was hired to overhaul the program but it was found to be too expensive to do so.

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17. What extra-curricular activities (including sports) are available at this school? Have your children participated in these activities? What activities do you feel are missing at the school?

Very few, and no.

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Social & Emotional Well-Being:

1. What is the climate for LGBT+ kids at this school? Are there resources they can draw upon? Does there appear to be any exclusionary behavior?

This is not tolerated.

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2. What is the climate for children with special needs? Is there a general attitude of inclusion for children with special needs?

Inclusion is how they run this program. While they have several well-qualified psychologists, they are not educational psychologists and often do not have the experience needed, in my opinion.

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3. Do expatriate students socialize with local students at the school? Are both groups successfully integrated into the school culture?

Very little.

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4. Are there are any problems with exclusionary behavior, cliques, or bullying at this school? Please describe any problems your children may have experienced in this area.

Exclusionary behavior, especially in middle and high school. Bullying was not a big issue at all.

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Overall Impressions:

1. What letter grade (ranging from A, excellent, to F, fail) would you assign to this school based on your overall experience? Would you choose it again?

F

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2. Please describe some of your child's/children's highlights and challenges during their time at this school.

My children were happy at times, however mostly frustrated. They enjoyed meeting new friends but preferred to play with their peers who attended other schools. They felt cared for and safe. They do have a massive learning gap now and that will be hard to catch up. Mexico City does not offer many good choices compared to the several other posts we have lived. Looking back I would never move to Mexico City while I have school-aged children.

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3. Please tell us anything else you think prospective parents and students should know about this school. Thanks for your contribution!

Like most other English-speaking schools in Mexico City, it is a for-profit school with an owner
and board of directors. The school has many excellent teachers. Unfortunately, there remain issues in the administration.
I find that this school is not collaborative, has little trust among all stakeholders, and the curriculum comes from so
many sources that it is not working. I also find that the parent communication remains lacking.

The lack of collaboration and conversation happens not only between the
teachers of both languages but also with each level of leaders and the rest of the school. This
causes a huge issue in not only how much the students learn but also how deep their
understanding can be with so little collaboration among them. I view this to be a deep systemic issue. I
believe that part of this is due to the fact that this school is a for-profit school and run by an
owner and a group of board members who understand how to run a business but little about
running a school. In Mexico City, there are very few private schools
our English speaking students can attend that are non-profit. Within the school, I also find there is a general lack of trust.

This school is a bilingual school. In theory, this would mean that the students are
learning the curriculum in both English and Spanish. However, the school has so many different
curriculum standards from various sources that they are conflicting; it makes planning and
understanding what the actual focus and mission and vision of the school confusing.

The school has chosen to adopt the Common Core State standards, the Mexican SEP standards, and is also
an IB school. The SEP standards are not written anywhere in English, and no one has
translated them. The Common Core Standards are in Spanish, however, the Spanish teachers are
dictated by the SEP standards and the country's strict control of how they are implemented.

The English teachers teach to the Common Core standards, which are written at a much deeper level of learning. It is more like two different schools. They have math in English class and math in Spanish class, but they are very different in
what they are taught and the expectations.

On top of all of this, the IB must be addressed and all the boxes checked for
keeping the IB stamp on the school. This creates much frustration and misunderstanding into
what the students and teachers' focus should be on.

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