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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 Expect the textbooks to be massively out of date and have Cold War era information at best.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.

Examples of Sucky School include:

Comic Books

  • 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 No one learns, outdated books, falling apart building which I recall has no central heating and (wasn't outdated then) teacher still wearing a mortar board.
    • Most of the pupils don't wear 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.

Live Action TV

  • 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's 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!


  • The school in Captain Underpants. The school library is shown as being almost completely free of books, with a librarian who discourages readings. The school also has signs posted encouraging mindless conformity. The teachers are also pretty much entirely either idiots or sadists.

Newspaper Comics

Web Comics

  • 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.
  • Kat from Sequential Art was in one, Catch 22 included.

Web Original

  • "Why kids is stupid these days" by Mike Jacobsen. So much is said in two short speech bubbles.
  • 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).

Western Animation

  • 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. 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 about the history of Texas.

Video Game

  • 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.

Real Life

  • 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...
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