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[Susan notes: Marion Brady explains the excuses in "No Excuses."]

Published in Orlando Sentinel

To the editor

Columnist Mike Thomas has just seen the documentary film "Waiting For

Superman," and is fired up.

"We can't use a kid's background as an excuse for his failure," he says in

his 10-28-10 Sentinel column. "That allows educators to excuse themselves in

advance for their own failure."

Well, we certainly can't have that, can we?! Any teacher who can't overcome

the minor obstacles to learning that some kids bring with them to school

needs to be shown the door.

And the process of booting them through it shouldn't be complicated by some

"due process" clause written into a union contract.

No excuses! Just because a kid is hungry, has bad teeth, can't hear well,

can't concentrate or behave because of lead poisoning, is tutored hours a

day by television, gets no exercise, comes from a home without books or

anything else to read, changes neighborhoods and schools a couple of times a

year to keep ahead of the rent collector, has never seen the inside of a

museum, has never been anywhere, lives with adults who know and use only a

fraction of the words known and used by other adults, has no reasonable

expectation of ever having a different sort of life (or even a life at

all), lives in a plutocracy masquerading as a democracy, where celebrity

trumps seriousness-just because teachers haven't figured out how to use the

wonderful tools and rules that educationally clueless bureaucrats have

handed them, is no reason to let them off the hook.

That American teachers face about 20% of those kinds of kids, and

top-scoring Finland has about 4% of them, is irrelevant.

Marion Brady

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