March 01, 2001 1 min read

“Anybody with a heart would have at least mailed us a letter.”
—Layla Wynn, a senior at Cardozo High School in Washington, D.C., on George Abel, a local businessman who had promised in the late 1980s that he would pay for college for Wynn and her classmates. The students learned only recently that his foundation ran out of money years ago.

“‘No, ma’am, I don’t have a textbook because the state is out of money.’ ‘No, sir, we don’t have any computers.’ ‘Yes, ma’am, I’m misbehaving because it gets hotter than hell down here and there’s no air conditioning in the classroom.’”
—Louisiana State Senator Cleo Fields, suggesting some of the conversations that might occur now that the Respect Bill, which requires students to address teachers as “ma’am” or “sir,” is state law.

“We call it ‘acaletics’ because academic achievement takes the same preparation as being a good athlete—practice, practice, practice. We call kids ‘acaletes.’ Now kids don’t feel like they are being a nerd. They get T-shirts and jerseys with BIC [Best In Class] on the front and a number on the back.”
—Mike Bell, president of Educational Development Associates, a Miami- based company that offers sports-inspired academic workshops in schools, describing his firm’s approach to learning.

“What remains the biggest disappointment is that you have a lot of people seeing this as a badge of dishonor rather than a chance to do things differently.”
—Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Eugene Hickok, lamenting that some officials in the state’s 11 lowest-performing school districts did not work with the “empowerment teams” sent to help them devise turnaround strategies last fall.