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From the Editor

It's a common question, but a good one. Our administrator profiles usually include the title of the book our featured superintendent is reading. The answer can reveal more about the subject than any quote from a school board chairman.

Facing a cross-country flight the other day, I bought the book,


This letter was supposed to update you on the education of my 5-year-old, Ethan. I introduced you to Ethan in November when I chronicled the decision my wife and I made to send him to a Montessori school and delay kindergarten for a year.

It's funny how practices that we know work in the classroom are sometimes the last concept we use when trying to solve a problem in the "real world." Take the notion of Piaget that people learn by "scaffolding" new information onto what they already know. When I started in this position a little more than two years ago, I leaned heavily on the staff and education experts Dan Kinnaman, Gil Dyrli and Gary Stager to teach me the hot issues in education, the principles behind those issues, and the business landscape in the K-12 arena.

By now, most readers probably know the story of Christine Pelton, a high school science teacher in Piper, Kan. If not, here's a quick recap.

As I write this, it's been nearly four months since the terrorist attacks changed this country. To date, I haven't covered the topic in my monthly letter, and the magazine has not devoted much space to this story or the fallout it has caused, and will continue to cause.

There are two important themes that echo through most of the articles in this issue. The first is financial. The news in this year's second annual Spending Report on page 34 confirms what most of us already knew. The recession's noose has reached education.