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"After I got through choking, I said, 'Yes, ma'am, it would be excused.' ''

Horace White, deputy superintendent of the East Baton Rouge, La., public schools, describing his response to a parent who asked if her child's absence would count as "excused'' in the event of a terrorist bombing at a nearby nuclear plant

"I think if [school] nurses actually knew how many children here have AIDS, they would be overwhelmed.''

Rhonda Bland-Carter, a visiting nurse at a Newark, N.J., elementary school adjacent to a low- income housing project

"In social situations, we too often allow those in other professions to overwhelm us with stories of the 'real world,' as well as sincere but misinformed remedies for the ills of education. We need to be more aggressive, to the point of occasional arrogance, in promoting our own expertise.''

Robert Sheridan, a teacher at Cleveland's Mayfield High School, in a commentary in The Plain Dealer

"I never fell for the propaganda that all teachers are dedicated. No profession can make that claim. But given the hard work and meager rewards, I met more dedicated teachers than we have a right to expect.''

Fred Hechinger, for 31 years the education columnist for The New York Times, writing in his last "About Education'' column

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