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"Se puede."

Curriculum director Jerry Foucher says nobody paid much attention to the development of course content for social studies and civics classes in his district. Until last school year. Then there was uproar.

The controversy started in March, about the time of the outbreak of war in Iraq. The district, Farmington (Mich.) Public Schools, was introducing changed graduation requirements, including a new international affairs class geared toward making students better global citizens.

After hearing about the class, some parents were unhappy. And they complained. Bitterly.

The mission of a school is to facilitate learning. Learning depends on teachers, buildings, curriculum, materials, and, increasingly, security.

Thanks to growing reliance on technology and increasing sophistication on the part of digital miscreants, security issues are uppermost in the minds of many districts. To fend off the worms, viruses and hack attempts that happen every day, many IT managers and superintendents have implemented firewall-based security systems that give them at least some shelter from the storm.

Administrators across the nation have long recognized the need to focus efforts on attracting high quality teachers to their districts, especially those in low-performing, remote and inner-city schools. But after the teacher arrives at the school, then what?

The 2005 Nation's Report Card, a large sample, fifty-state assessment of reading and math achievement among fourth and eighth grade students, provides cause for cautious optimism. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings touts steady gains among American students and says the results demonstrate that schools are on the right track. Math achievement scores rose to the highest level in 15 years for both fourth and eighth grade students.

To teach one way or various ways?

That is the question swirling in a junior high school in New Jersey.

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