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 James Bryant Conant - the poor man 
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:shock: I know that we are supposed to focus our attention and response to on the test, but I just have to mention something about James Bryant Conant. It seems so odd that on the one hand I can sympathize with his intentions. I understand how he could want to change the system of the rich elite consuming the noblest educational opportunities. I also understand he rational of choosing the best and the brightest to admit into the best schools. Brains rather than wealth would play the largest determining role in college entrances; however, one the other hand, I can see that Conant’s vision is going to work to bring about a new level of class divides. The fact seems particularly striking when its position is pondered against the book we have just finished reading (Kozol’s Savage Inequalities). Testing does not seem to measure innate intelligence, but instead what you have been taught. All children are not given the same education.

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April Eichmiller


Mon Sep 04, 2006 10:47 am
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No, I agree. I can understand his reasoning and his good intentions. But I also agree with you, I can also see how its going to backfire. Men and their good intentions & great ideas (since there are no guys in this class, I can say that :D ) I also agree with you that testing does only seem to measure what a child has been taught, or...what they can retain. That whole memorize it for the test, then forget it thing.

And, I'm sorry, but is anyone else having a really hard time with this book??

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Nicki Boyette


Thu Sep 07, 2006 2:22 pm
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His sentence structure can be really awkward. I have to tell you guys this. When I was first reading the book, I was complaining about that and read some samples to my fiance, and he immediately asked "Does he write for the The New Yorker?" I had to laugh because he does! I have a subscription to The New Yorker, and Wes is always cracking on their pretentious writing. I don't agree with his disdain for the magazine, but I understand what he's saying. :P

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Stephanie Holt Helmer


Fri Sep 08, 2006 10:05 am
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Yes, it's been a tough read for me too. In fact my family didn't make it any easier on me during Labor Day weekend at the beach - you're reading what? The history of the SAT? Sense the sarcasm - "Sounds interesting" ... (in fact my aunt said, "I'm glad it's you and not me!"). I have to admit, however, that I am glad to be aware of this historical background and actually enjoyed the book after getting into it. Sure, I've thought about the SAT, but I've also thought a lot about the Praxis and Praxis II, which are both administered by ETS. I deal with this test on a daily basis because it's what allows college students to be admitted to the "college of education" ... and it's also the exam that allows education majors to earn a teaching license. It's what NCLB says teachers must pass in order to be deemed "highly qualified" (well, NCLB says "some licensure test," and the Praxis II is the one NC has adopted). Do you know how hard it is to look a 28-year veteran teacher in the eye and say, "Ummm ... you're not highly qualified to do your job because you didn't take a test back in 1978." This is crazy talk. And it has happened in the U.S. every day since NCLB was passed. Sorry, didn't mean to get off of NCLB ... can't argue with the philosophy of the law, that's for sure. But I can certainly argue with veteran teachers' "highly qualified" status.

By the way, did anyone read further into the book to see when California stopped providng tuition free college to its citizens? Was it while Reagan was the governor and cut the higher ed budget by 30%?

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Rena Powers


Sun Sep 10, 2006 8:55 pm
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I am so glad to read that I was not the only one struggling with the vocabulary. I thought I was well-read and somewhat intelligent. That was until my son got sick and I had to try to read at home with a "dying" son, and a dictionary! I found it demeaning that teachers are the lowest rung of the graduate ladder. . . Did I read that right? (p. 36- "Even so, most students who entered college didn't graduate. And of the college students who did finish, the very worst of them became teachers. . . all of this is still true"). How uplifting!

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Selena Hicks


Mon Sep 11, 2006 7:17 pm
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