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To solve students' math problems, eucators go to school - Boosting teacher skills seen as key
Boston Globe ^ | August 18, 2003 | Sharon Kahn Luttrell

Posted on 08/18/2003 2:10:07 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife

Edited on 04/13/2004 2:10:39 AM PDT by Jim Robinson. [history]

MILFORD - Meagan Washington took just two math courses when she was studying to become a teacher, one in basic math and one in teaching methods. Now a fourth-grade teacher in Westborough, she sometimes feels overwhelmed trying to prepare 9- and 10-year-olds for state tests on everything from fractions and decimals to multiplication algorithms.


(Excerpt) Read more at boston.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: education; matheducation; teachers

1 posted on 08/18/2003 2:10:08 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
educators - sorry about the copy-paste. But then, it really is hard to call them educators.
2 posted on 08/18/2003 2:12:05 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: All
***Most of the 21,000 elementary school teachers in the state are ``seriously deficient'' in math, the report states, based on interviews with local school administrators and state and national math specialists.

The report also recommends that colleges and universities boost their math requirements for education majors. Many schools require no more than a single math course for future teachers.

____________________________ ***

They're too busy teaching education theory. That bs is easier to teach and doesn't require any brains.

3 posted on 08/18/2003 2:17:11 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
When they are done with the course, they need to abandon the NEA.
4 posted on 08/18/2003 2:17:42 AM PDT by raisincane
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Education in Massachusetts is a joke.

Given the love affairs for Bulger and Laboy --- forgetaboutit.

5 posted on 08/18/2003 2:18:29 AM PDT by Diogenesis (If you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us)
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
They're too busy teaching education theory. That bs is easier to teach and doesn't require any brains.

About like journalism.

6 posted on 08/18/2003 2:19:45 AM PDT by Paleo Conservative (Do not remove this tag under penalty of law.)
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To: raisincane
.... they need to abandon the NEA.

It will never happen. Parents need to abandon public schools.

What unions, other than teachers' unions, are given a pass as self serving and/or Democratic Party political movers and shakers?

7 posted on 08/18/2003 2:30:04 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Diogenesis; Paleo Conservative
Bump!
8 posted on 08/18/2003 2:30:53 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
.... they need to abandon the NEA.

I agree it will never happen. The Nea gets a tremendous amount of tax dollars and then turns around and donates it to politicians and parties.

9 posted on 08/18/2003 2:45:48 AM PDT by kcordell
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
In collges, the low IQ students become education majors. No wonder they join a union; it gives these semi-illiterates job protection and income far, far greater than their worth.

Support school vouchers!
10 posted on 08/18/2003 3:29:50 AM PDT by Zorrito
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To: kcordell; Zorrito
Parents need to check out the advances and advantages of homeschooling.
11 posted on 08/18/2003 3:33:08 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
``It's a vicious cycle,'' Fortmann said. ``People don't learn math very well in school, they avoid math while preparing to become grade-school teachers in college, and the cycle continues. What we're hoping to do here is break the cycle.''
Whenever our grade-school teacher would announce the arithmetic homework was a page of number-crunching problems, I'd groan along with the rest of the class.

But when she announced a page of word problems, the rest of the class would caterwaul, and I'd be relieved--there were so few of them on the page, and there was actually a reason to be interested in the problems.

I didn't actually learn that I was good at math--that math was really about the word problems I enjoyed much more than the number-crunch that I detested--until tenth grade.


12 posted on 08/18/2003 3:37:55 AM PDT by conservatism_IS_compassion (The everyday blessings of God are great--they just don't make "good copy.")
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To: conservatism_IS_compassion
You'd get alarm from most too if an essay test was at hand vs a multiple guess test.
13 posted on 08/18/2003 3:43:33 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
But then, it really is hard to call them educators.

CW, I really wish you'd stop painting all of us with the same broad brush. (Yes, there are several of your fellow FReepers who are educators or spouses of educators.)

The curriculum for elementary education majors really needs to be strengthened, however. The course I took on 'teaching math in the elementary school' didn't go much (if any) beyond 6th grade math skills, and some of the prospective teachers had a hard time with it.

14 posted on 08/18/2003 3:46:37 AM PDT by Amelia
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To: Amelia
I'm sorry to bunch you all together but I do believe you a propping up a terrible public school system and the union that feeds on our children.
15 posted on 08/18/2003 3:51:35 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
OK, here we have a 4th grade math teacher who's struggling with the curriculum. What's wrong here?
16 posted on 08/18/2003 3:58:00 AM PDT by NewHampshireDuo
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To: NewHampshireDuo
I can't believe parents aren't marching on public schools with pitch forks and torches.
17 posted on 08/18/2003 4:00:17 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Amelia
Boys do better in math than girls. Most teachers are girls. What did we expect?
18 posted on 08/18/2003 4:03:00 AM PDT by FLAUSA
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
I don't think educators are the issue. I'm sure there'll be some benefit from having them take a few more how to teach classes and a few more math classes.

But, think about it.....does that really sound like it's gonna impact anything in a significant way?

If you've ever looked at an old McGuffy Reader or an old 6th grade graduation examination, it becomes clear that far more work was gotten from the students in days gone past.

Has the human creature changed since then? Are hearts shaped differently, are eyes in different places, are legs missing joints they used to have?

Since there's no difference in the human creature itself, then it must be something else that accounts for student's work output being far less.

I'm going to bet that teachers WANT to get more from students, but that they CANNOT get it no matter what they try. Why?

The family culture and the culture of the educational establishment BOTH prevent it is my guess.

19 posted on 08/18/2003 5:38:28 AM PDT by xzins (In the Beginning was the Word)
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To: xzins
If you've ever looked at an old McGuffy Reader or an old 6th grade graduation examination, it becomes clear that far more work was gotten from the students in days gone past.

I saw an 8th-grade math book from the late 1800's once (one of my math-professor colleages had it) and I doubt most college students would be able to work the problems.

20 posted on 08/18/2003 5:45:19 AM PDT by rockprof
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To: xzins
When I taught HS Math (with a degree in Electrical Engineering) the math was no problem. I do believe one must understand a subject to teach it. That said, I want to comment on your other point that learning takes hard work.

My High School was fed from a wealthy neighborhood, a middle class neighborhood, and a poor neighborhood. We instituted a placement test and found that the wealthy kids tested into Geometry, the Middle class into Algebra, and the poor kids tested into basic math.

In looking into this further, I found the wealthy teachers gave about 14 pages of math exercises each night. (They could afford paper and had an aide to run them off). The middle class kids got about 4 pages of exercises and the poor kids got one or none.

Of course there may be other factors, like parents in the home... but the kids did test in relationship to the amount of effort that was required of them. Period. This was 20 years ago, and I suspect the standards have been slipping, but the single most important indicator of success in school is homework level.
21 posted on 08/18/2003 5:49:49 AM PDT by KC_for_Freedom
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
We have been doing this in Texas for over 20 years. Modules, then Institutes, have been developed for training teachers in teaching math from PreK through Geometry. Thousands of teachers have been trained. The state standards have gone from TABS to TAAS to TEKS to TAKS. The state tests are supposedly getting harder.

I am not sure that it has really made a difference. There are still teachers who do not like math, and should not be teaching it.

22 posted on 08/18/2003 6:04:28 AM PDT by mathluv
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
They're too busy teaching education theory. That bs is easier to teach and doesn't require any brains.

You really don't expect college professors to have to change their lesson plans, do you? They have had the same ones since their first year to pontificate.

23 posted on 08/18/2003 6:06:27 AM PDT by mathluv
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To: Amelia
I am a retired Math teacher. While getting my masters, I had one class on learning how to teach math - elementary. I had no classes on true teaching while getting my BS. I had already taught secondary math several years, and I learned some things about math and about teaching in that class. Most of the other students were elementary teachers, and had a hard time with it.

While working on my PhD in math ed, I had NO classes on truly how to teach - just more "theory". 2 classes were beneficial. while there, the curriculum for elementary majors was changed. Now they had to have fewer methods classes, and had to take Calculus. True methods classes are what is needed. not higher level math - to teach K-1.

24 posted on 08/18/2003 6:14:19 AM PDT by mathluv
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To: FLAUSA
I am a girl (woman). I am very good in math. Most of my classmates in college who were female were even better in math. Most of the students I have taught in math who have been good were girls. This is an old stereotype that is false. Girls are generally better students than boys because they will make the effort.
25 posted on 08/18/2003 6:16:52 AM PDT by mathluv
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To: KC_for_Freedom; rockprof
My wife is a high school math teacher (geo, trig, pre-cal, cal). Her favorite saying is "math is NOT a spectator sport."

In math, as you know, before you go to step 2, it is necessary to understand step 1. (You can slide around a subjective class ....put Longfellow before Poe, or teach the Civil War before the Roman Empire. It really doesn't matter.)

But she can predict student grades simply on the basis of who does the homework. You gotta keep up.

26 posted on 08/18/2003 6:38:55 AM PDT by xzins (In the Beginning was the Word)
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To: xzins
Both my parents (and Grandmother) taught math at the JC level; my mother also taught at the HS level. My father was an enginnering major and my mother was a math and education major. From experience, my mother knows more math and is the better teacher; I had her for freshman alegebra. I later took calculus in college and she was the one who had help me; my father had not used his math skills for several years and no longer remembered enough to teach effectively. In the JC, my mother taught the higher level courses and he taught the more basis one.
27 posted on 08/18/2003 7:54:38 AM PDT by Taxguy
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To: mathluv
This is an old stereotype that is false

Actually it's true. Boys beat girls every year in the math SATs......no exceptions.

8 times as many boys get perfect SATs as girls.

At the university level, males make up the vast majority of math, physics & engineering majors. It isn't even close.

28 posted on 08/18/2003 7:57:15 AM PDT by Republic If You Can Keep It
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To: mathluv
True methods classes are what is needed. not higher level math - to teach K-1.

I agree with you that most education classes teach more theory than methods, when methods are more useful. I agree that elementary school teachers don't need to know calculus.

But darn it, if they are supposed to be teaching addition, subtraction, multiplication and division of fractions, they ought to be able to work the problems themselves - and not all of them can.

29 posted on 08/18/2003 2:49:34 PM PDT by Amelia
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
``Fourth grade is a rigorous year with that [testing] cloud hanging over us in the spring,'' said Washington, who teaches at Mill Pond Elementary School. ``My background in math is not the strongest, and I'm pretty aware of that.''

Apparently teachers don't get much math past 3rd grade.

30 posted on 08/18/2003 2:56:03 PM PDT by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: FLAUSA
Boys do better in math than girls. Most teachers are girls. What did we expect?

On the SAT, I did better on the math than the verbal. I also did better on the math than 99% of boys or girls - and I'm a girl.

But if we assume your premise is correct, and math education is inferior because most teachers are female, how do boys still manage to learn?

31 posted on 08/18/2003 2:58:42 PM PDT by Amelia
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
I'm sorry to bunch you all together but I do believe you a propping up a terrible public school system and the union that feeds on our children.

May I correct your typo to show that I'm not totally ignorant? ;-)

The public school system may be terrible, but for most families, it's the only one available. Fortunately or unfortunately, the quality of a particular school is largely a function of the condition of the community in which the school exists.

You may feel I'm "propping up" the system, I feel I'm working to change it from the inside. As long as most educators are liberals, the system will never change, or will only change cosmetically.

I don't belong to the union, because I refuse to support them. Please understand that not belonging to the union carries risks, because union membership is the only method of purchasing professional liability insurance in my state, and teachers can be sued personally as well as professionally.

The bottom line, however, is that it's not just the teachers, and it's not just the system: it's also the families, the communities, and the culture. Schools won't change until and unless all of these change.

32 posted on 08/18/2003 3:51:21 PM PDT by Amelia
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To: Amelia
But if we assume your premise is correct, and math education is inferior because most teachers are female, how do boys still manage to learn?

First of all, no need to assume anything. The SAT data I cited above are absolutely correct & easily verifiable by Internet search.

The fact that men are better at math doesn't necessarily mean that they are also better at teaching math. Teaching involves a different set of skills. (I understand that Einstein was a poor teacher.)

Lastly, the brightest students are capable of learning more than their teachers know.....which has always been true.

33 posted on 08/18/2003 4:01:04 PM PDT by Republic If You Can Keep It
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To: Amelia
The public school system may be terrible, but for most families, it's the only one available...

What a great argument for vouchers!

34 posted on 08/18/2003 4:05:41 PM PDT by Republic If You Can Keep It
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To: Republic If You Can Keep It
no need to assume anything. The SAT data I cited above are absolutely correct & easily verifiable

I know that boys tend to score higher in math on the SATs...I meant the premise that math education is inferior because of the preponderance of female teachers.

the brightest students are capable of learning more than their teachers know.

I'd say that the majority of students are capable of learning much more than they do - but they don't for a variety of reasons. Some teachers don't enforce high standards because they've bought into the whole "self-esteem" thing, and in some systems they aren't allowed to - at least initially, if the students aren't used to having to work, failure rates will be high, and some administrators don't allow that.

Some students just aren't willing to put in the effort required, regardless.

What a great argument for vouchers!

Yes, at least in places where good private schools are available. I hope I'm wrong, but I'm afraid that vouchers will do the least good for the students who need them most.

35 posted on 08/18/2003 4:34:31 PM PDT by Amelia
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To: Republic If You Can Keep It
What is true is that girls are not encouraged to do the 'hard' subjects. It is not the ability, it is the lack of ever being encouraged to try. (future soccer moms)
36 posted on 08/18/2003 5:45:26 PM PDT by mathluv
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To: mathluv
What is true is that girls are not encouraged to do the 'hard' subjects

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Girls are given every encouragement over boys in today's feminized school system, but they still cannot touch boys in math.

Read C. Sommers' "The War Against Boys".

What we're talking about here is a difference in math ability......undeniable based on SAT data, which is consistent year after year, decade after decade, with no exceptions.

37 posted on 08/18/2003 6:14:12 PM PDT by Republic If You Can Keep It
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To: Amelia
Yes, at least in places where good private schools are available

True.

But in time demand will create supply. Good teachers like you will leave the failing public system & establish new private schools. It will take time but it will happen.

I think that vouchers, long term, will be a winner.

38 posted on 08/18/2003 6:19:37 PM PDT by Republic If You Can Keep It
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
It beats me why they can't do this simple math already. They paid all that money to go to school and get their degree, yet they're still ignorant.

"$12 million in state funds and $8 million from districts."

Throwing money at this won't help. All they need to do is buy a $40 grade school math book and read it. I'm sure there's some 6th graders that would be willing to coach them for some spending $s also.

39 posted on 08/18/2003 6:26:21 PM PDT by spunkets
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To: Republic If You Can Keep It
Are you in the classroom?
40 posted on 08/18/2003 8:22:29 PM PDT by mathluv
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To: Amelia
I never said you were ignorant Amelia. And I understand your dedication. But the way things currently are in the classroom, it won't help those children whose parents feel there is no alternative, who don't understand or are indifferent to the poor quality of public education. The kinder path would be to walk away from a system that is so rotted. The sooner good teachers and support staff do, the sooner it will change or die.

This huge money pit is sucking up state budgets, receiving federal funds for more and more programs and returning damaged goods. It's a house of cards, little different from Enron and it's slowly being found out for the fraud that it is. To pretend it's a functioning system, is being part of the problem. How is that good for anyone, especially students?

The Left is very adept at putting everyone on the defensive at the expense of children and our country. The taxpayers, our children and good educators shouldn't be sitting targets for unions nor should they pretend there is nothing to do but remain. That makes them fodder for political and union survival and I'd like to believe we can do better than that.

41 posted on 08/19/2003 12:01:22 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
I never said you were ignorant Amelia.

You've implied that all public school teachers are. But the ;-) showed I was also teasing with you.

And I understand your dedication. But the way things currently are in the classroom, it won't help those children whose parents feel there is no alternative, who don't understand or are indifferent to the poor quality of public education. The kinder path would be to walk away from a system that is so rotted. The sooner good teachers and support staff do, the sooner it will change or die.

You seem to have missed my point that in large part, the schools reflect the communities in which they are located, and I don't have time this morning to spend a lot of time on it - but it's true.

You seem to have had a really bad experience with the public schools in your area, though?

42 posted on 08/19/2003 3:43:37 AM PDT by Amelia
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To: Amelia
You've implied that all public school teachers are. But the ;-) showed I was also teasing with you.

Too many are.

You seem to have missed my point that in large part, the schools reflect the communities in which they are located, and I don't have time this morning to spend a lot of time on it - but it's true.

I understand communities with a lower tax base (poor), and with larger immigrant numbers (non-English speaking) are the example the Left caters too. But in Houston, for example, there is a Robin Hood method of tax distribution where wealthier school districts are required to give millions of their property taxes to school districts that tax at a lower rate. The effect being none have enough money to run the schools in the manner they've become accustomed to. The wealthier districts keep raising their rate and the locals are beginning scream. The bilingual education hasn't worked, unless employing more union workers can be classified as a successful education program.

You seem to have had a really bad experience with the public schools in your area, though?

I've probably had the average experience with public schools.

43 posted on 08/19/2003 4:01:33 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: mathluv
Did you ever consider that it is your method for teaching boys that is poor and not that boys are poor students? Or that you prefer to teach girls because they learn like you?
Your attitude really enforces the need to segregate boys and girls by sex. I certainly would not want a woman who thinks boys are not as good students as girls to be teaching my son and passing on that negative view to him.

PS I know you were answering the other poster, but I chose to reply to yours because you are a teacher and he is not. Your attitude affects thousands of children through your lifetime, the other poster's does not.
44 posted on 08/19/2003 4:32:10 AM PDT by glory
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To: Amelia
"But if we assume your premise is correct, and math education is inferior because most teachers are female, how do boys still manage to learn?"

Some learn in spite of their teachers and some don't learn. That's the point. Some don't learn.

45 posted on 08/19/2003 4:32:19 AM PDT by FLAUSA
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To: mathluv
"I am a girl (woman). I am very good in math. Most of my classmates in college who were female were even better in math. Most of the students I have taught in math who have been good were girls. This is an old stereotype that is false. Girls are generally better students than boys because they will make the effort."

Sounds like a new stereotype to me. " Girls are generally better students than boys because they will make the effort." Your statements show a definite bias against boys. I can only wonder how that translated into your classroom instruction and grading.

46 posted on 08/19/2003 4:51:27 AM PDT by FLAUSA
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To: FLAUSA
Some learn in spite of their teachers and some don't learn. That's the point. Some don't learn.

One year, during the first week of school, I gave my students an assignment every day for a week. One or two were to be done in class, the rest were homework. I graded each assignment on percent completion, not on whether or not the answers were correct - if there were 5 questions, and the student attempted to answer all 5, he or she received "100" for that assignment.

At the end of the week, about 20% of the students were failing, because either they hadn't bothered to do the work, or they hadn't turned it in. Some had an average of zero.

At that particular school, we were not allowed to punish students for not working, as long as they weren't disrupting other students - i.e., if Judy came in each day, put her head on her desk, and did nothing but sleep, there was nothing I could do about it other than ask Judy to sit up and do her work, and/or phone her parents.

I also found out that some parents weren't worried about it, as long as their child wasn't on the street or home alone.

47 posted on 08/19/2003 2:29:56 PM PDT by Amelia
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To: FLAUSA
Your statements show a definite bias against boys

This is documented in detail in "The War Against Boys"......an outstanding read.

48 posted on 08/19/2003 6:23:56 PM PDT by Republic If You Can Keep It
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To: Amelia
Amelia, I respect your experience & appreciate the thoughtfulness of your posts. While I agree with much of what you say, I cannot agree with your bottom line. The public schools cannot be saved. They're past that point.

I believe the NEA is the mortal enemy of America's children. Until its back is broken (i.e., via vouchers) there can be no hope for our kids.

FReegards.

49 posted on 08/19/2003 6:37:21 PM PDT by Republic If You Can Keep It
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