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We remember that Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492; that Jimmy's father, the fire chief, showed us how to "Stop, Drop and Roll"; and that crabs shed their shells, a lesson we learned while soaking in the briny smell of salt water during a fourth-grade field trip to the aquarium.

What happened, then, to all those vocabulary words, spelling lists and dates of Roman conquests we knew up, down and inside out the night before a quiz or test? A week later, it seemed we'd already forgotten them.

Fighting an age-old stereotype is tough-just ask a media center specialist.

"Where's the best place to spend our money-Pre-K programs? Bonuses for teacher recruitment?" As of last spring, most state policy makers who consulted Mike Griffith, a policy analyst at the Education Commission of the States, had questions like these.

Despite the many demands on schools today, districts are finding they don't have to go it alone. Parents and other community members not only like to be informed and involved-they expect it.