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Sitting in his one-story office in the town of Brandon, nestled among the Green Mountains of Vermont, William Mathis stares out his rain-splattered window as he contemplates education in the nation and his district, a few miles north of Rutland.

For most education watchers, Connecticut's recent foray into the fight over No Child Left Behind began the moment state Commissioner of Education Betty J. Sternberg sent a letter to Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. That letter asked, in part, that Connecticut receive a waiver to avoid the law's required annual tests.

Anne Arundel County Public Schools (Maryland)

www.aacps.org

Liz Pape vividly remembers the first time she conducted a presentation on the benefits of K-12 distance education courses. It was at a 1997 national conference for school administrators. The audience's reaction was anything but enthusiastic. The room was filled with doubt, apprehension and skepticism.

Arnie Glassberg was perfectly happy for more than 20 years as an assistant superintendent. No superintendent rungs need be added to his career ladder, he swore to family and friends.

For all of the scientific, technological, Olympic and other golden accomplishments that Americans are used to having as a source of national pride, there's one concept that the nation as a whole has not grasped--the importance of learning a second language.

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