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More Cartoons on Covid-19 Pandemic

I have selected cartoons I have not used before. Enjoy1

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How a Taxi Ride Changed My Life (Ed Bridges)

June is commencement time for American students and nearly all will be done remotely. Commencement speeches are a genre unto themselves. Occasionally, a talk doe not follow the well-worn ruts. A professor I knew well gave one such speech a few years ago.

Ed Bridges was Professor Emeritus of Education at Stanford University. His focus on educational administration, leadership, principal preparation, and problem-based learning earned him the respect of both students and educators globally for decades. We had been colleagues and friends for over 38 years. He gave this commencement address June 17, 2012 at the Stanford University School of Education. Bridges died in 2019.

It is an honor and a privilege to be your commencement speaker. After accepting the invitation to be your speaker, I consulted my oldest and one of my dearest friends. Since he had served as the president of four Canadian universities and the Chairman of the Board for the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, I knew that he had listened to many commencement speeches and delivered a few as well. Over a Guinness, I said, “George, what advice could you give me?” He paused, leaned over, and spoke softly and slowly. Here is what he said, “A commencement speaker is like a body at an Irish wake; the organizers need you for the party and don’t expect you to say much.”

I intend to follow my friend’s advice and talk briefly about how my life was changed following a taxi cab ride I took more than 40 years ago. However, before recounting this story, let me preface my remarks with a few things that don’t appear in my bio or curriculum vitae. They provide a context for the important lesson I learned during my taxi cab ride.

Elliott Eisner speaks of career planning as an oxymoron. John Krumboltz refers to professional careers as a happenstance. Both of my colleagues are right as far as I am concerned. To their cogent observations, I would add the words spoken nearly 41 years ago by one of my three sons, then six. At the dinner table one evening, my son said, “Dad, when I grow up, I want to be a baseball player. What do you want to be when you grow down?” How prophetic that question was. Since retiring, my height has shrunk two inches, and I am still trying to figure out what I want to do next.

My professional career certainly had a life of its own. As a 16 year old, I walked across the stage at Hannibal High School in Hannibal, MO to receive my high school diploma. Having received first place in the state for a news story I had written for the school newspaper which I edited, I planned to enter the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri and become a reporter. To offset my expenses, I worked one summer in a shoe factory and another summer as a Gandy Dancer, an occupation immortalized in a song titled, “The Gandy Dancers Ball.” Believe me, it was no ball. During the day we laid railroad tracks in the hot Missouri sun, drove spikes, shoveled gravel, and set railroad ties. At night we slept in box cars on a railroad siding. The closest I came to journalism school was to marry one of its graduates, Marjorie Anne Pollock, who became the reporter in the family. Next month we celebrate our 58th wedding anniversary and a wonderful life together.

Now let me turn briefly to that fateful taxi cab ride and the lesson I learned that had a profound effect on my life. The lesson I learned concerns choices.

Every choice involves a sacrifice, for oneself and for others. That statement is hardly profound; however, its consequences are. Oftentimes, we are so blinded by our wants and desires that we ignore the sacrifices inherent in the choices we make. My work in the shoe factory and later as a Gandy Dancer led me to appreciate that everyone, regardless of their station in life, has wisdom to share if you bother to listen. Many years ago I flagged a cab in Chicago and began a conversation with the cabby. Here is what he said that influenced my life:

“I wanted a nice home for my family in the city, a summer home on Lake Michigan, and a car for my wife and each of my two children. To afford these, I needed to work two full time jobs. We had the nice home, the summer home on Lake Michigan and cars for everyone in the family. My wife divorced me, and my children would have nothing to do with me. By working two jobs, I got what I wanted, but I lost what I had. What I had was more important to me than what I wanted.”

This cabby, fine man that he was, was so blinded by his desires that he failed to consider the sacrifices for his family and himself. Sadly, this is an all too common mistake.

Equally sad, if I had been riding with the same cabby today, I probably would not have learned this valuable lesson. Instead of listening to him, I would have been talking on my cell phone, surfing the internet with my smart phone, texting, or tweeting.

In light of this cabby’s story, let me ask each of you in the audience and on stage two questions, each one a variant of the same question.

  1. What are the three or four most important things in your life?
  2. What sacrifices are you unwilling to make no matter what the choice or opportunity is?

These are tougher questions to answer than you might think and even more difficult to act upon.

Not too long after the cabby told me his story, I created a mental list of the things in life that meant the most to me. This list exerted a major influence over my choices for the rest of my professional career:

1. my family

2. my students including teaching and advising

3. my research and writing on practical problems, no matter how controversial they were or whether they were valued by members of the academy

With the benefit of hindsight, I should have added a fourth—my own personal health.

For some reason faculty meetings did not make my list.

Thanks to that cabby, I can enter the check-out line when my time comes with few regrets. I am not estranged from my four children. My wife and I like, as well as love, each other. I have students who continue to care about me as I continue to care about them. I have several really close friends, the kinds who feel comfortable sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings with each other. Strangely, the more I paid attention to the sacrifices and set aside my desire for professional recognition, the more recognition I received.

At every Irish wake, it is customary to offer a toast to the body. Instead, let me offer a toast to this year’s graduates. May you experience success, enjoy your journey, and end your life with few regrets because you did not let your desires blind you to the sacrifices inherent in your choices.

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Schools Re-open in Israel

After nine weeks of closure, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered that schools be re-opened within 48 hours. On May 3rd the first phase of re-opening occurred. A national system of schooling, the Ministry of Education had issued numerous guidelines and directives for opening schools balancing health and safety with the need to get children learning and parents back to work.

But guidelines and directives are one thing; it is up to principals and teachers to do the daily work. Or as one teacher put it: “You can’t just turn on the faucet. You have to organize the school, disinfect the building, organize small groups, prepare lesson plans …. The most talented principal can’t do all this in the time allotted.”

And parents worried.

On the first day that Israel’s schools reopened nine weeks after closing to stop the spread of the coronavirus, Kalanit Taub’s 8-year-old daughter stayed home.

As a third-grader, her classes were among the first wave of those to resume. But her 10-year-old brother’s classes hadn’t yet resumed, and Taub was recalling how both children had been exposed to the virus at school back in March.

“If there is another exposure, what will we do?” she asked. “My husband and I are back to working at our workplace. Can we put the whole family in quarantine again? That would be hard. Can we put an 8-year-old by herself in a room for a week or longer while she is quarantined? If she gets sick, who would take care of her?”

The phased re-opening initially invited back children in first through third grades and students in the last two years of high school. Parents decided whether they would send their children to schools. Classes are capped at 15 (Israeli class sizes typically run near 30) and in daily session for five rather than the usual six hours a day. Children older than 7 must wear masks (see here and here). Keep in mind that about one-in-four Israeli students attend schools run by ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups.

Yet only 60 percent of enrolled children showed up on May 3rd. Some cities continued the shut-down; other cities complied. Below are some photos of children and teachers in schools and classrooms.

Israeli students wear protective face masks as they return to school for the first time since the outbreak of the Coronavirus. 1st-3rd graders returned to school this morning, with keeping social distance inside of hte classrooms, wearing face masks (exempted for 1st graders) and showing off doctor’s notes at the entrance to assure they are healthy on May 3, 2020 in Jerusalem. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** למידה מרחוק חינוך חופש תלמידים לומדים מושב אפרת מסכות חזרה ללימודים
Ultra orthodox jewish kids study at an Ultra-Orthodox school founded by Rabbi Shmuel Stern in Jerusalem on May 6, 2020. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** תלמוד תורה בית ספר חרדים ילדים קורונה וירוס חרדים תלמוד תורה
High school class
Israeli high school class
Handing out masks to students
primary grade students
Israeli students at the Orot Etzion school in Efrat wear protective face masks as they return to school for the first time since the outbreak of the Coronavirus. 1st-3rd graders returned to school this morning, with keeping social distance inside of hte classrooms, wearing face masks (exempted for 1st graders) and showing off doctor’s notes at the entrance to assure they are healthy. May 3, 2020. Photo by Gershon Elinon/Flash90

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Cartoons on Sheltering-in

Two months and counting of being at home during the pandemic. Cartoonists have had full license to comment upon what it is like to stay home with kids and pets, wear masks, and keep physically distant from friends and extended family. As states loosen restrictions, a new “normal’comes into view. Perfect recipe for cartoonists to wield their pens. Enjoy!

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The School Year Really Ended in March (Susan Dynarski)

Susan Dynarski is a professor of education, public policy and economics at the University of Michigan. This article appeared in the New York Times May 10, 2020.

School-age children across America are struggling to learn under challenging conditions. Some, no doubt, have made real progress.

But it’s time to admit that, for the vast majority of students, online learning and work sheets are no substitute for trained teachers in classrooms.For most children, the school year effectively ended in March.

If the country doesn’t recognize this fact and respond accordingly — with large federally funded programs to reverse the losses — we will do great harm to a generation of children who will learn less than those who went before them. They will read and write more poorly and be less likely to graduate from high school and college. The resulting shortage of highly trained workers will hamper the economic recovery and intensify earnings inequality.Educators, parents, students and schools are doing what they can in a harrowing situation. But for most students it isn’t nearly enough, and the United States will need to marshal enormous resources to get education back on track.

About a third of the school year has been sacrificed to the pandemic. Consider that a year of U.S. public education costs about $400 billion. That implies that about $133 billion may be needed to make up for lost instructional time.*

That’s a lot of money, roughly equivalent to the cost, in today’s dollars, of the Marshall Plan, which rebuilt Europe after the devastation of World War II. But the disruption to American society created by this pandemic has no parallel in modern history.It has exposed and intensified enormous gaps in schools’ and families’ capacity to support children’s learning. Many families, especially in rural areas, lack access to broadband internet service. Parents and multiple siblings may share a single computer, if they have one at all. A quiet place to study may not exist in a small, crowded apartment.

Parents who must leave home to work have limited time to supervise children’s schooling. The same is true for parents who must work from home, who have infants or who are caring for the sick. As Cleveland’s schools prepared to close in late March, teachers set out to speak with every student’s family about remote learning. They were initially able to reach 60 percent of parents. After trying for a few more days, they were still unable to connect with the family of one out of 10 students.

Most children will return to school without the skills and concepts they were meant to master this spring. Many will have lost ground, and will need to relearn an entire year’s worth of material.

This is what the United States will confront as schools reopen. Fourth grade can’t start in September with the usual curriculum if students missed half of third grade. They will need to compensate with more time spent on learning.

One option is summer school, in places where it is safe to reopen by summer. Another is extended school days and weeks, with the extra hours devoted to bringing children up to speed.

Students may well need to engage in social distancing for a long while. To keep down crowding, students could rotate days spent in teacher-led classrooms. On days children are not in classrooms, they could work with tutors in small groups (online, if that’s what health officials recommend).The federal government can tap unused energy and talent by funding a big domestic volunteer effort for our schools, in the style of AmeriCorps. There will be far too many unemployed college students — and graduates — in the coming years, because recessions always hit young workers the hardest. Young people could be paid a stipend to tutor, troubleshoot technology for online classes, assist teachers (virtually or in person) and disinfect classrooms. High school students who typically work during the summer and after school could be paid to attend classes themselves. Even after schools restart, there are likely to be rolling closures while the pandemic unfolds. Online instruction will still be needed and should be as effective as possible. Some schools and teachers have made the online transition successfully, but most need technical and pedagogical support.

States can’t possibly foot the bill for an effort on this scale. State tax revenue is plunging, and the states are generally barred from running deficits. Nor is this a project for a nonprofit, a foundation or a private outfit like Kickstarter. The federal government needs to step in.

The return on this investment would be substantial. First, paying for all this would stimulate the economy because teachers and young people would quickly spend what they earned. And then, the economic payoff would keep coming for decades in the form of a better-educated, more productive society.

The setbacks in education aren’t universal: There are exceptions, of course. Some lucky parents have had the time and resources to closely supervise their children’s schooling. Some gifted children are adept at independent learning and have kept up with their studies. But this is not the norm, and it should not be expected.Society is now built around the assumption that school-age children go to school. Few families have a stay-at-home adult who can step into the shoes of a professional teacher. A recent paper by two economists at the University of Chicago estimates that just 37 percent of American jobs can be regularly done from home. I home-schooled my kids for a few years, and it wasn’t easy. A lot of luck made it possible: a flexible work schedule, a well-paying job, a supportive spouse, a comfortable home, healthy children, and my own good health and education. Few families have the resources to pull off home schooling. Yet it is now being expected of all parents — including those who hold multiple jobs, are raising children alone, earn the minimum wage and may not have finished high school.

Unless the United States takes action to restore the education that so many children have lost, it will suffer as a society. There is likely to be rising inequality in our schools, with widening gaps in achievement and spiking dropout rates. This surging inequality will then spill into the work force, with the well educated commanding higher salaries because of their scarcity and the poorly educated earning even less because their numbers have grown.

The future I fear is one in which a privileged minority of children are well educated, using private resources like tutors, private schools and home schooling, while the vast majority that depend on the public schools are left even further behind.

School-age children across America are struggling to learn under challenging conditions. Some, no doubt, have made real progress.

But it’s time to admit that, for the vast majority of students, online learning and work sheets are no substitute for trained teachers in classrooms.For most children, the school year effectively ended in March.

If the country doesn’t recognize this fact and respond accordingly — with large federally funded programs to reverse the losses — we will do great harm to a generation of children who will learn less than those who went before them. They will read and write more poorly and be less likely to graduate from high school and college. The resulting shortage of highly trained workers will hamper the economic recovery and intensify earnings inequality.Educators, parents, students and schools are doing what they can in a harrowing situation. But for most students it isn’t nearly enough, and the United States will need to marshal enormous resources to get education back on track.

About a third of the school year has been sacrificed to the pandemic. Consider that a year of U.S. public education costs about $400 billion. That implies that about $133 billion may be needed to make up for lost instructional time.

That’s a lot of money, roughly equivalent to the cost, in today’s dollars, of the Marshall Plan, which rebuilt Europe after the devastation of World War II. But the disruption to American society created by this pandemic has no parallel in modern history.It has exposed and intensified enormous gaps in schools’ and families’ capacity to support children’s learning. Many families, especially in rural areas, lack access to broadband internet service. Parents and multiple siblings may share a single computer, if they have one at all. A quiet place to study may not exist in a small, crowded apartment.

Parents who must leave home to work have limited time to supervise children’s schooling. The same is true for parents who must work from home, who have infants or who are caring for the sick. As Cleveland’s schools prepared to close in late March, teachers set out to speak with every student’s family about remote learning. They were initially able to reach 60 percent of parents. After trying for a few more days, they were still unable to connect with the family of one out of 10 students.

Most children will return to school without the skills and concepts they were meant to master this spring. Many will have lost ground, and will need to relearn an entire year’s worth of material.

This is what the United States will confront as schools reopen. Fourth grade can’t start in September with the usual curriculum if students missed half of third grade. They will need to compensate with more time spent on learning.

One option is summer school, in places where it is safe to reopen by summer. Another is extended school days and weeks, with the extra hours devoted to bringing children up to speed.

Students may well need to engage in social distancing for a long while. To keep down crowding, students could rotate days spent in teacher-led classrooms. On days children are not in classrooms, they could work with tutors in small groups (online, if that’s what health officials recommend).The federal government can tap unused energy and talent by funding a big domestic volunteer effort for our schools, in the style of AmeriCorps. There will be far too many unemployed college students — and graduates — in the coming years, because recessions always hit young workers the hardest. Young people could be paid a stipend to tutor, troubleshoot technology for online classes, assist teachers (virtually or in person) and disinfect classrooms. High school students who typically work during the summer and after school could be paid to attend classes themselves. Even after schools restart, there are likely to be rolling closures while the pandemic unfolds. Online instruction will still be needed and should be as effective as possible. Some schools and teachers have made the online transition successfully, but most need technical and pedagogical support.

States can’t possibly foot the bill for an effort on this scale. State tax revenue is plunging, and the states are generally barred from running deficits. Nor is this a project for a nonprofit, a foundation or a private outfit like Kickstarter. The federal government needs to step in.

The return on this investment would be substantial. First, paying for all this would stimulate the economy because teachers and young people would quickly spend what they earned. And then, the economic payoff would keep coming for decades in the form of a better-educated, more productive society.

The setbacks in education aren’t universal: There are exceptions, of course. Some lucky parents have had the time and resources to closely supervise their children’s schooling. Some gifted children are adept at independent learning and have kept up with their studies. But this is not the norm, and it should not be expected.Society is now built around the assumption that school-age children go to school. Few families have a stay-at-home adult who can step into the shoes of a professional teacher. A recent paper by two economists at the University of Chicago estimates that just 37 percent of American jobs can be regularly done from home. I home-schooled my kids for a few years, and it wasn’t easy. A lot of luck made it possible: a flexible work schedule, a well-paying job, a supportive spouse, a comfortable home, healthy children, and my own good health and education. Few families have the resources to pull off home schooling. Yet it is now being expected of all parents — including those who hold multiple jobs, are raising children alone, earn the minimum wage and may not have finished high school.

Unless the United States takes action to restore the education that so many children have lost, it will suffer as a society. There is likely to be rising inequality in our schools, with widening gaps in achievement and spiking dropout rates. This surging inequality will then spill into the work force, with the well educated commanding higher salaries because of their scarcity and the poorly educated earning even less because their numbers have grown.

The future I fear is one in which a privileged minority of children are well educated, using private resources like tutors, private schools and home schooling, while the vast majority that depend on the public schools are left even further behind.

___________________

*The costs that Professor Dynarski refer to only include instruction for the school year 2016-2017. The table shows that $619 billion was spent that year for public schools. So the federal tab for making up one-third of a school year is much higher than noted here.

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Cartoons on Interactive Whiteboards

What seems like a century ago with the initial lockdown–actually on March 3rd–I posted on my blog an inquiry about the initial popularity and then seeming loss of enthusiasm over placing interactive whiteboards (IWBs) in classrooms. The post garnered many views. I then thought whether cartoonists had penned jabs at this supposed technological marvel.

Pickings, however, were slim. What follows are a clutch of cartoons that at least got me to smile. Enjoy!

‘When does the screen saver come on?’

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Cartoons about Strange Times

Amid the sick and dying from a virus, it is hard to see a funny side to the damage that this protein does to the individual, community, nation, and world. One way that I cope with my fears and anxieties in this bizarre moment in time that everyone is experiencing is to laugh–when I can.

While that sounds macabre in of itself, I have managed my panic by seeing the humor–surely not in the sick or dying and the havoc that it does to families–but in my fear-laden responses and those of my family, friends, colleagues, and Americans. Cartoonists, as is their wont, have not sat idle as this disease has spread and reactions have ranged from sane to insane.

So I offer this selection of cartoons on the responses to coronavirus and Covid-19 for those who seek a moment to laugh amid the anxiety and fear that surround all of us.

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Cartoons about Online Learning

Yes, it is that time for the monthly feature of cartoons. For March, I have collected cartoons about online learning. With K-12 schools and universities shutdown, many school leaders have turned to online courses as a way of teaching and learning as well as keeping up-to-date in the business world. Social distancing during the pandemic has expanded online teaching beyond even promoters’ dreams. So it is a moment when the cartoonist’s pen is welcomed. Enjoy!



Online College, US Education, colleges, political cartoon

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Cartoons on Old Technologies for Nostalgic Readers

Anyone under the age of 35, do not look at these cartoons. I target the middle-aged and elderly viewers of this blog for a trip down a memory lane of old technologies.

Wait. Maybe for those under 35, take a look. I have also included some that may skewer them. Enjoy!

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School Reforms That Are Persistent And Admired But Marginal (Part 3)

Who am I quoting here? Hint: Quotes come from person born in the 19th century.

If education is always to be conceived along the same antiquated lines of a mere transmission of knowledge, there is little to be hoped from it in the bettering of man’s future. For what is the use of transmitting knowledge if the individual’s total development lags behind?

The ancient superficial idea of the uniform and progressive growth of the human personality has remained unaltered, and the erroneous belief has persisted that it is the duty of the adult to fashion the child according to the pattern required by society.

If you guessed John Dewey, you were wrong. The quotes come from Maria Montessori (1870-1952).

Born in Italy, Montessori became a physician –one of few women to do so at the time. In 1906, she was appointed as head of the Casa Dei Bambini where she developed ideas, materials, and teaching practices for poor children in Rome that have since become known as the Montessori Method.

Montessori schools spread throughout Europe before and after World I, the Great Depression, and after World War II. Dr. Montessori came to the U.S. in 1913 and 1915 and schools –all private–sprung up throughout the U.S.

Beginning in the 1970s, the private sector of Montessori schools slowly accommodated to the introduction of public Montessori schools. The first public Montessori opened in 1975 in Cincinnati (OH)–the city now has two Montessori high schools (see Laura Chapman’s comment below). The state of South Carolina has established nearly 50 public Montessori schools scattered across 20 districts. The Milwaukee school district has eight public Montessori schools enrolling nearly 3500 students, the most of any one district in the nation. Overall, there are 549 public and 2134 Montessori elementary and secondary schools in the U.S. Making Montessori schools public is another instance of a reform aimed at school organization, curriculum, and instruction succeeding in entering American schools. Those who say often and loudly that school reforms fail again and again have not only kindergartens, the age-graded schools,and small group teaching to consider but also charters and Montessori schools. All of these were reforms adopted by public schools that spread or resided in protected niches.

The Montessori Method:

When a child is given a little leeway, he will at once shout, ’I want to do it!’ But in our schools, which have an environment adapted to children’s needs, they say, ‘Help me to do it alone.’ Maria Montessori

The American Montessori Society sponsors teacher training, provides materials, and certifies schools and teachers as fully prepared in the Montessori Method. They describe their approach:

Montessori education is student-led and self-paced but guided, assessed, and enriched by knowledgeable and caring teachers, the leadership of their peers, and a nurturing environment.

Within the community of a multi-age classroom—designed to create natural opportunities for independence, citizenship, and accountability—children embrace multi-sensory learning and passionate inquiry. Individual students follow their own curiosity at their own pace, taking the time they need to fully understand each concept and meet individualized learning goals.

Given the freedom and support to question, probe deeply, and make connections, Montessori students grow up to be confident, enthusiastic, and self-directed learners and citizens, accountable to both themselves and their community. They think critically, work collaboratively, and act boldly and with integrity. What better outcome could you wish for your children?

Montessori trained teachers, loads of specially designed materials and multi-aged groups of children characterize this approach to schooling.

In the past four decades of reform, then, public Montessori schools have appeared in more and more districts.

And what does research say about the Montessori Method and its outcomes for children? Two findings stand out. First, the Montessori Method is consistent with the bulk of human development literature on children’s growth and learning. Second, Montessori children, regardless of family finances, do well academically. Angeline Lillard, Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, summarizes her research and findings in this YouTube video.

Yet in 2020, even with rave reviews for this approach to schooling and a sharp uptick in growth of public Montessori schools, Milwaukee (WI) has only eight public Montessori out of 154 schools. In New York City with 1700 public schools, there are three Montessori schools.

So an innovative approach to schooling founded by a woman doctor over a century ago has experienced erratic but constant growth both world-wide and in the U.S. initially in the private sector and since the 1970s, among U.S. public schools. Advocates among parents and teachers accompanied by a national infrastructure of support for training and certifying of teachers and materials help explain the growth of these public Montessori schools. Many districts, often accused to being hostile to school reform, adopted this innovative approach to school organization, curriculum, and instruction.

Here again, then, is a persistent, admired brand of schooling that occupies a safe place in many districts across the nation yet remains marginal to whichever system it is in. Like International Baccalaureate, Core Knowledge, problem-based learning, and charter schools, Montessori remains an innovative approach to teaching and learning that has yet to break out of its shielded nook and spread to other schools in the system.

How come? The final part of this series tries to answer that puzzling question.

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