THINKING ABOUT THE CLASS OF 2012. En route to Galesburg's Railroad Days (there will be more refrigerator cars on the yard lead tonight) I stopped for coffee in Princeton, which has a train station on the main line of the Burlington Route, and a tiger for a mascot (the local high school team. No creativity there. Galesburg's teams are the Silver Streaks, and I've always admired Kirkland Hiawatha nearby. That's class.) The local paper is rather pretentious about making its online content available; you may struggle with its registration script if you wish to check this report. Anyway, the headline story for the Saturday paper is the principal of the John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Spring Valley taking issue with a statement by a member of the Hall High School board who had the effrontery to say "We're stepping backward to educate the freshmen who should have been educated in eighth grade." The principal's riposte: "The effort and pride in which [c.q.] our teachers put into their job is undeserving of negative comments made in a public forum." Apparently some students are finishing high school with the equivalent of ninth grade language arts as their final English course.

I'm surprised this grade school superintendent, also quoted in the story, hasn't been selected for corrective labor sensitivity training. "No matter how hard we try as educators, there are some people who just can't be reached. Some of these children fall in that 'bell curve' area, where they will always have to work twice as hard as their peers to stay at grade level."

Well, perhaps those teachers aren't making the proper motivational effort. The right-side sub-story reports on the trial of former Hall High biology teacher Gina Purvis, who "was indicted Dec. 15, 2004, by a Bureau County grand jury on one Class 2 felony of aggravated criminal sexual abuse with a 15-year-old male student. She was indicted Feb. 9 on four more Class 1 felonies of committing acts of sexual conduct with the same student.

Puts this Phantom Professor tale about the design of an entry examination for majors in perspective, these stories do.

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