September 30, 2005 1 min read

“As far as I’m concerned, they are just private schools in a different suit or a fancy dress.”
—A.J. Duffy, president of United Teachers Los Angeles. The union leader was reacting to news that a charter school operator plans to take over Los Angeles’ troubled Jefferson High School and subdivide it into smaller campuses with better-paid teachers and a more rigorous curriculum.

“If there’s a bully on the playground, it often takes one brave soul to step forward and stand up to the bully.”
—Democratic state legislator Andrew Fleischmann, referring to the lawsuit Connecticut filed against the federal government over the No Child Left Behind Act. State officials claim the Bush administration has not provided sufficient money to pay for mandatory programs or testing.

“Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster.”
—From an open letter to the Kansas State Board of Education, which voted 6-4 in August in favor of adding criticism of evolution to state science standards, pending an outside academic review. The author, unemployed Oregon State University graduate Bobby Henderson, wrote on behalf of a doodled tangle of spaghetti strands and two meatballs, which he insists created the universe and should thus be given equal time in all public classroom discussions about the origins of life.

“There are gangs. ... But they’re not evident in the building. Here we are Nicholas Orem—that’s the gang.”
—James Boyd, a history teacher at Nicholas Orem Middle School, talking about changes—including an emphasis on communicating with students instead of punishing them and the silencing of class-ending buzzers and bells—that have helped turn around the formerly besieged campus in Hyattsville, Maryland. Once plagued by gang activity, the school used to average about 400 suspensions and 150 fights per year. Last year, there were only 56 suspensions and 11 fights.

A version of this article appeared in the October 01, 2005 edition of Teacher as Overheard