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Samenow believes the difference between good kids and bad kids is a matter of perspective.

"The delinquent's sense of self is markedly different from that of his responsible counterpart,'' says Samenow. "The delinquent youngster sees human relationships as avenues for conquest. He rejects the responsible world long before the world rejects him.''

Treatment includes fairly involved counseling to help the child see himself for what he is and to develop new patterns of thinking. But from the viewpoint of educators, the key to dealing with such children lies in understanding why they are the way they are. "Ask what the table is made of,'' Samenow advises, "and not why the table is scratched.''

Why Not The Best? For many parents searching for the right school, the answer is simple. They don't want their children to be victims of an institution's unrealistically high expectations.

Of more than 4,000 parents recently surveyed, only 30.3 percent say they would send their children to schools with the highest test scores. A majority--53.2 percent--say they prefer schools in the 60 to 80 percentile range.

This unexpected finding is part of a continuing survey conducted by SchoolMatch, a private corporation that helps parents size up local schools for their children.

Many of the parents responding to the survey are "corporate gypsies'' who have moved several times, explains William Bainbridge, SchoolMatch president and a former school superintendent. They know the perils and pitfalls of so-called "snob schools'' with reputations for rigorous academic standards, where, he says, "their kids get eaten alive.''

Other findings, including one of particular importance to teachers:

Most parents prefer schools where teachers are well-paid, but not, by their definition, overpaid. On a scale of one to five--with five being the highest teacher pay-- 62.1 percent picked number four.

About 69 percent of the parents said they prefer medium-sized school systems.

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