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Table of Contents

Oct 2005

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Cover Story


Sherlock Holmes would develop a migraine deciphering this one:

Long bus rides. Teacher shortages. Poverty. Isolation and consolidation. Rural school districts in the most remote parts of the country all face similar troubles. But students in some rural states manage to do well, while in others, they struggle. Why?


Clifton Hill Elementary teacher Rebecca Harper remembers what the school was like before Jesse B. Register became Hamilton County's superintendent: unkempt buildings with no inside doors, carpeting likely laid the year Harper was born, asbestos, and a pervasive feeling of neglect.

Problem: Like other school districts, the Jersey City (N.J.) Public Schools collects comprehensive data about its students, including test scores, then stores it in electronic warehouses. Among other things, data is essential in addressing accountability requirements under No Child Left Behind. As a special needs district, Jersey City also needs data to meet state requirements.

Adults speak nostalgically about the glory days of youth, but a recent study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health strikes a different chord. "Half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14," researchers report. "Three quarters have begun by age 24. Thus, mental disorders are really the chronic diseases of the young."


It's difficult to even begin to put the disaster of Hurricane Katrina into perspective, much less make some sense of its enormous impact on the education of those displaced by the storm.

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