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Published in Print: October 1, 2004, as OVERHEARD

Overheard

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"I would have to say I feel envy."

Mikhail Nokhov, a Russian educator who teaches English in his native Dagestan, admiring the enthusiastic teachers, the roomful of electronic workout equipment, and a display case full of glittering trophies at Dutch Fork High School near Columbia, South Carolina. Nokhov was among 40 educators from Russia and Kazakhstan who participated in a summer cultural and educational program coordinated by the American Councils for International Education.

"I think writing about politics is much easier than writing a book report."

Alexandra Conway, a 10-year-old 5th grader from Manchester, New Hampshire, on reporting about politics for the Scholastic Kids Press Corps, a group of about 75 students covering the presidential campaigns from their hometowns.

"We want walls!"

A protest chant taken up by parents and students this past spring outside Bruce-Monroe Elementary in Washington, D.C. Remodeling construction at the school, which features classrooms clustered together without walls, had been delayed for three years.

"It’s as much an education for me as anything."

Larry Ferguson, who often finds himself just a couple of pages ahead of his students as he tries to teach four subjects at five different grade levels at the tiny K-8 Adel Elementary School in south-central Oregon. Ferguson’s school was among rural schools given a reprieve from the No Child Left Behind requirement that all teachers be "highly qualified" in every subject they teach.

"What are the four branches of government?"

An essay question from a test given by the California Alternative High School, an unaccredited institution that has been shut down and had its assets frozen by state and federal officials for offering bogus degrees. According to the test, the United States has 53 states, World War II ended in 1942, and there are two houses of Congress—one for Democrats and one for Republicans.

Vol. 16, Issue 2, Page 15

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