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Open seating

When Kimberly Carpenter boarded the school bus for her first day of 6th grade this month, she ushered in a new era in transportation for the 270-student K-12 school she attends in San Pasqual Valley, Calif.

For the first time, the 10-year-old could sit on the right side or the left, next to either girls or boys.

So far, she said, "The girls have been sitting mostly with the girls, and the boys have been with the boys."

Until now, the San Pasqual Union School District had maintained a 50-year-old tradition that kept the boys on one side of the bus and the girls on the other. Kimberly and her father, Harold Carpenter, were the first to formally question the policy last spring, when Mr. Carpenter asked the school board to reconsider the policy. ("Take Note," May 7, 1997.)

This summer, the school's new superintendent and principal, Jeff Felix, decided the tradition was not worth a fight, and the school's trustees overturned the policy.

New math

The following has been making its way around the Internet.

1950, the old math:

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is four-fifths of the price. What is his profit?

1960, the old math wanes:

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is four-fifths of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

1970, the new math:

A logger exchanges a set L of lumber for a set M of money. The cardinality of set M is 100, and each element is worth $1. Make 100 dots representing the elements of the set M. The set C of the costs of production contains 20 fewer points than set M. Represent the set C as a subset of M, and answer the following question: What is the cardinality of the set P of points?

1980, leveling the playing field:

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80, and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

1990, outcomes-based education:

By cutting down beautiful forest trees, a logger makes $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? (Topic for class discussion: How did the forest birds and squirrels feel?)

1997, profit-driven education:

By laying off 40 percent of its loggers, a company improves its stock price from $80 to $100. How much capital gain per share does the CEO make by exercising his stock options at $80?

--JESSICA L. SANDHAM & ERIK FATEMI

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