The difference in focus was apparent as soon as you walked into the building. The school in New York had posters for good colleges and educational awards on prominent display and had very little focus on sports. Despite this, they had a much better PE program -- they had an Olympic-sized swimming pool and offered elective options for cross-country skiing and archery, among other things.
The schools I attended in the South had larger, longer classes and were entirely focused on football. If your aptitude didn't fall into the range of something to do with football, they pretty much just wanted to waste your time until they could kick you out into the real world with a promising career as a gas station attendant to look forward to. You were either a future football player or a future football viewer. That's all they knew how to do.
What no one in any school ever told me was that I was the captain of my own fate. We all are. So if your school is bad and you don't want to grow up to be a gas station attendant, you'd better find some other way to learn the math and science that today's careers demand. The world isn't going to get any easier.