The Dark Enlightenment and Me

I am a node on the network of the Dark Enlightenment.

I myself refer to the subject as the Voldemort View, the View that Must Not Be Named. But everyone else is naming it, and the damn names keep changing. I had just gotten used to HBD. Now, just as I’m becoming to accustomed to Dark Enlightenment, the new buzz word seems to be neoreactionary.

Steve Sailer discusses my essays, on occasion. The notorious Derb has me in his reader, a great honor even though I would take none of his infamous advice. Charles Effin’ Murray said nice things about me on Twitter. Don’t think I don’t brag about these achievements to my few friends, even fewer of whom even know this blog exists, much less read it.

So my appearance as a node shouldn’t come as much of a shock. And yet it does, a bit. I’m not ashamed or worried, nor am I rushing to disavow the association. Let’s be clear that, should my real name ever be linked to this blog, that placement on the node would be a career ender even if my individual essays didn’t do the trick. I could be logically worried, even if I’m at the third level of commitment, beyond just pointing out facts and well into theories and proposals. I could be concerned on practical grounds even while acknowledging that I meet some of the criteria: rejecting the Cathedral, beyond skeptical and flatly opposed to increased immigration at this point, worried that democracy leads to mediocrity, convinced that political labels are obsolete. (And lordy, the whole typology obsession reminds me of libertarian buddies I had in the 80s and 90s. I myself used to love typing and am depressed to discover I’m less interested as I age—just one more sign of encroaching decrepitude.)

But I’m surprised because I didn’t realize the Network had noticed me, much less adopted me, to some extent. I am not a big part of their conversations. I participate in Steve Sailer’s blog quite a bit, Razib Khan and West Hunter a little (the science is too hard), and occasionally comment on the others. In contrast, I have regular email and twitter discussions with reporters and education policy folk, both of which comprise a flattering percentage of my tiny twitter following. In the online world, I see myself as a teacher who knows a lot about education policy (as opposed to most education policy folk who barely dabbled, if at all, in teaching), rather than a member of the Network.

The newcomer will see much that shocks in the Dark Enlightenment body of work. The elites fuss over Sailer and Derbyshire, but both men are writing for general public consumption—a brave public, a curious public, but public that includes the uninitiated. The folks writing for the converted are a different story. I get a lot of traffic from Chateau Heartiste, so clicked on the site once to see what it was about, and holy crap. It’s not fun to read but what makes it tough—for me, anyway—isn’t that he’s wrong. He isn’t. He’s taking the basic economic fundamentals of mating, removing all the sentiment, tenderness, and fun from them and laying the stripped version out cold. What makes it tough is that his brutal accuracy is offset by a huge lack, and a lack that characterizes Dark Enlightenment discourse in general. Empathy, maybe? I offer this as observation, not criticism. And it’s a good thing my few friends don’t read this blog, because they’d all be commenting that “lacks empathy” is high on my checklist of personal shortcomings. But I shall push on with an example.

One of my ed school instructors became a friend, and in an early conversation, he asked me why I was so cynical about education. I told him I wasn’t cynical about education, but rather the people who wanted to “fix” it, since all sides of the education policy debate were ignoring cognitive ability. He asked about poverty, I told him about poor whites outscoring high income blacks, he asked for cites. Over a period of a year or so, he read the info I gave him and sent me interesting articles he’d come acrosss. He thought The Role of Intelligence in Modern Society was extremely compelling and, like me, became fascinated by the possible differences in crystallized vs. fluid intelligence. A Hispanic, he asked me what I would say to those who point to our troubled past, in which whites denied blacks and Hispanics a chance at advanced education by tracking them out of these options.

I responded in two parts. First, I said, I would like to see hard data on the “troubled past”. Everyone repeats the truism, but I’ve never seen data. Were schools of the 60s and 70s putting high-scoring black and Hispanic kids into middle or low-tracks? Do we have proof that it happened? Because most folks have absolutely no idea how huge the gaps are, and it’s just possible that the schools weren’t actively discriminating. Second, assume that the data shows that schools were actively discriminating back then. I find it impossible to believe that today’s schools, bastions of “tolerance” lectures and multi-culti support, would suddenly initiate rampant discrimination against low income kids. But I agree that we should be extremely cautious. We should, for example, allow anyone to take advanced courses, regardless of test scores, and then carefully monitor results. We should give all sorts of support to black and Hispanic children who feel isolated in advanced courses, because like it or not, culture and group identity matters. And, as I’ve written before (and first conceived of in these conversations), we must continue to research the best ways to educate students with below average cognitive ability, rather than pretend such problems don’t exist.

About six months ago, this friend told me that I had completely transformed his thinking, so much so that he now grew impatient when he heard the usual platitudes trotted out—and since he is a researcher at an elite education school, he hears the platitudes all the time. He sees now that he teaches a doctrine, not a method (not that there is a method). He can’t understand why everyone else is in denial—that is, of course he understands, but he can’t believe the nonsense he hears spouted by people whose expertise he used to accept without question.

I convinced a full-blown liberal progressive, a guy steeped in elite ed school tradition, to consider and then largely accept cognitive ability as the root cause of the achievement gap. Bow to my greatness.

Yet he wouldn’t have listened to word one had he not known me as a prospective teacher, one who had to fight like hell to make it through the program, who cared passionately about teaching kids, helping them succeed. I am well aware that, while my opinions on cognitive ability and the social policies that ignore it haven’t changed in a decade or so, my new career as a teacher has deepened my understanding of the issues involved. I have more street cred, if you will, but I am also even more aware of the human cost of the policies I oppose—as well as the impact that my desired policies would have on many of my students. My opinions require bifocals; one lens for broader policy, one lens for the individuals I work with every day. I might oppose immigration, particularly illegal immigration, and affirmative action, but I will advise my students of every possible option they have under existing law. I have taught and coached illegal immigrants to higher SAT/ACT scores, advised African American students with solid but not awesome test scores to apply to top 30 schools, even though I knew white and Asian kids wouldn’t have a chance with those scores, even though I want a world in which African Americans wouldn’t be accepted with lower scores. Until that day, my students are my students and I’ll work to give them every advantage I can.

When people read my blog, I hope they see that part of me. Yes, I scathe and mock, yes, I despise the denial that wastes time, money, and lives, yes, I’m angry that opportunists throughout the political landscape go further than simply deny cognitive realities and blame the wrong people (teachers usually, parents sometimes) for the failure of their wholly unrealistic expectations. But I never mock the underlying conditions that everyone’s denying. I’m totally comfortable with the word “smart”, but believe the word “stupid” should be reserved for an otherwise “smart” person who just isn’t using the brains god (or genes) gave him. Feel free to mock my cognitive dissonance.

I don’t see low cognitive ability as a flaw to be fixed. I am well aware that people deny the import of cognitive ability because they see it as an insurmountable disability, one that just doesn’t fit their vision for future. What the hell are we supposed to do, in this modern society, with those who don’t have the mental abilities to master the abstract world we live in? Well, that’s the real challenge, isn’t it? Let’s set some goals, rather than deny the problem.

In other words, odd as it may sound coming from a ruthless sarcastic cynic, I see my Voldemortean views as, er, kinder and gentler than those seen from full-fledged members of the Network. I grew up overseas—-way, WAY overseas—and I’ve lived in one of the most diverse areas in the country the rest of the time. It’s easy to mock “diversity” and “multi-culturalism”, now that their sell-date seems way overdue, but here’s a story that happened last Friday:

During lunch, I’d decided to jet on over to Starbucks, something I rarely do, when I ran into one of my intermediate algebra students who had stopped by to ask me if I’d be interested in reading his science fiction screenplay. He then proceeded to tell me the story outline, about a man who woke up with temporary amnesia, struggling to make sense of the society around him. I was anxious to get my iced latte, but drawn in despite myself, as the student related the details of that society and the conflicts driving the plot. As we reached my car, he said, “…and what I really need now is someone to read it and spot all the story development gaps I missed. I know they’re there, but I need outside eyes to find them.” Tell me that’s not a writer.

We chatted for a bit, coffee be damned, and I gave him some advice and told him I’d love to read his story (Why he’s asking me, a math teacher, I dunno).

This kid is black. He’s a Nigerian immigrant. His story had nothing to do with Africans, blacks, white oppression, or anything even remotely involving civil rights. He’s a geek who wants to write a kick ass science fiction screenplay, and is spending hours of his free time crafting his vision.

When I finally left for Starbucks, I found myself trying to bring down my great mood by imagining all the ways in which he probably hadn’t acculturated. Like, his dad probably has 8 circumcised wives, all of them living off food stamps and welfare, that the kid probably wants to be rich and famous so he can recreate his father’s harem. It was all nonsense, but I was determined to crush the delirious joy I found in that little exchange, the feeling of oh my god, here’s the vision in action, here’s what everyone has in mind when they talk about giving blacks, immigrants, “people of color” equal opportunities to live the American dream. Not a kid who wants to major in African American studies, work for “social justice” or beat Lebron at his own game, but a creative artist who’s getting good grades in school yet isn’t sure if he wants to go to college, not because he doesn’t like school but because he thinks his time would be better spent writing. How frigging cool is that? And I wanted to temper any celebration of that young man because I know that as awesome as he is, likely with no circumcised harem in the background, he’s just the fringe of a much bigger, messy group that won’t assimilate as well, a group that would, on average, simply add to the problems we already have educating our own population with its racially imbalanced mix of low ability people who are going to struggle in this modern world.

But that conversation reminded me, again, of the awesome achievements our society has made because of this commitment to a diverse population with equal opportunity, achievements that I think might possibly be exclusive to…whites? England and its offspring? You don’t see a whole lot of concern for diversity or equal opportunity in Africa, Asia or South America, and it’s not all that strong in Europe, save England. And we’ve been tremendously successful over the centuries in expanding opportunity, expanding rights, and assuming that equal outcomes would follow. Who can blame people for seeing the most recent stall as a temporary setback rather than an outright limit?

It’s easy to forget that part. I often do, because lord knows the elites, in their eagerness to ignore reality in favor of an all-too-attractive delusion, are out to discredit people like me, to at best point and sputter, at worst destroy our careers.

Anyway. I confess I’m secretly proud of my little node on the network, even if nonplused by some of the company. But I will continue to identify myself primarily not as an HBDer or a member of the Dark Enlightenment, but as a teacher who has a clear sense of the problems in our current educational policy.

I think, somewhere in this typically longwinded screed, is some advice for the brethren in the neoreactionary cause (not the top dogs, but those, like me, on the lower tiers). But it would be far too condescending to spell out, and they’re a smart bunch.

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36 responses to “The Dark Enlightenment and Me

  • Florida resident

    Just want to say “BRAVO”, dear Educationrealist.
    Your F.r.

  • Scharlach

    The way we present HBD is important, so it’s especially important that we’ve got guys like you on the side of realism–guys who have ‘earned’ the moral right to talk about it through their actions in other realms: academic achievement in Khan’s or Cochran/Harpending’s case, and a life committed to teaching in yours. (Of course, even that right can be revoked, as poor old James Watson learned.)

    And you’re absolutely right that, notwithstanding terms like “dark” and “reaction” and “Voldemort,” one can (and should) still be a compassionate human being when it comes to the relationships in front of us. I live in the same area you do (if I’ve picked up on the right hints), so “diversity” has always been a fact of life for me. I don’t have a knee-jerk reaction against it, so, like you, my own “Voldemortian” beliefs are always tempered by the fact that many of my friends and, hell, half my family wouldn’t be here were it not for the US’s too-loose immigration policies.

    By the way, I really want to (but won’t) ask for hints about the name of the SAT-prep place you work for; I worked for one a couple years ago that sounds remarkably similar . . . but then, I suppose all those places ARE remarkably similar.

  • Seguine

    What the hell are we supposed to do, in this modern society, with those who don’t have the mental abilities to master the abstract world we live in? Well, that’s the real challenge, isn’t it? Let’s set some goals, rather than deny the problem.

    Good luck with that. So far the goals “we” set seem to be wrong. For example, the now universal emphasis on encouraging more and more students to aspire to careers in STEM has had a ham-handed effect on curricular requirements. Do enhanced math requirement benefit kids who would be doing more with what God gave them if public schools didn’t underestimate their capacities and pitch instruction to a lower level? Yes. But will it do a damn thing for kids who can no more pass Algebra I in 8th grade than they can lay golden eggs? No. Will the ratio of STEM candidates to non-peacocks change markedly by insisting that everyone must be on track to take Calculus in high school? I don’t think so. And will the non-peacocks be “better prepared” in the long run for jobs? Again, I doubt it. Not because some won’t in fact be better prepared, but because the market doesn’t want them even if they are.

    People who should know better aren’t coming clean, either. Read “Race Against the Machine” and see whether you don’t think the authors outline a real problem — tech advances very rapidly shrinking available employment that pays a living wage, skills not keeping pace — and then draw exactly the wrong conclusion about how to address it educationally.

  • Seguine

    [I meant to say golden peacock eggs, in case all that wasn't clear...]

  • Pincher Martin

    For what it’s worth, I never thought of you as an HBDer. Your focus here is too narrow, and your general political views are too much of an ideological grab bag, for you to be placed in any reactionary nexus.

  • Jim

    At the beginning of the 19th century roughly 90% of the population was employed in agriculture. With the enormous amounts of cheap energy which
    became available in the years since we have developed an energy-intensive agriculture system requiring only a fraction of the labor once utilized. In the future rising costs of energy may necessitate a return to a more labor-intensive agriculture. If so this might soak up a considerable portion of our current surplus supply of low IQ labor.

    On the other hand the transition to an energy-intensive agriculture system allowed a reduction in acreage planted. Because of this deforestation in the
    US peaked about 1850 with an increase in forested land since then. With a more labor-intensive agriculture system this trend might reverse back to deforestation.

  • ed

    Education Realist,

    Aren’t you seriously worried that your identity will be revealed? Many of your posts have detailed descriptions of your lessons and interactions with your students, such as the Nigerian Sci-Fi writer. What would be the consequence if you’re identified?

    Anyway, I enjoy the blog and hope you keep it up.

    Ed

    • educationrealist

      Thanks for your concern. The Nigerian sci-fi writer isn’t only Nigerian immigrant at my school. I never discuss my students’ grades or other FERPA related material, and I change their names. Plus, I never say anything bad about any of them. For all those reasons, I should be safe about my students.

      If my identity is revealed, it’s because someone wants to hurt me. I get calls and questions from reporters, and they need to know my real name. I am fine with it offline. I have gotten more than one private tweet asking if I’m person X, and the guessing is about 50% correct. They always say “But it’s okay, since I agree with you.” *That* worries me much more than people knowing my identity–the idea that being outed depends on whether a reader agrees with me or not. Because then the person emails the principal saying “Person X is saying dirt about students) and if the principal removes me first, asks questions later, I’m screwed.

      I’m not good at keeping my identity secret. I just want it free from Google and not putting me out of job. That’s enough to ask for.

      • Tim

        It’s just a matter of time before it happens. That’s the price of having a thinking brain and opinions that don’t follow the herd. I don’t think it’ll be a problem for you so much as it will be a loss for your students. I’m sure I would have gotten a lot from a teacher like you but instead I suffered through endless banality until my prison time had expired and I was able to progress on to University but even there I found a lot of boring tired thinking until I hit upon the division between the cultural and biological anthro depts in my second school.. that was interesting, something Hr. Khan has been talking about a lot lately. I experienced it first hand back in the early 2000s.

        As an aside, I’m glad to hear about the Nigerian student’s sci-fi aspirations. I’d encourage him to look into writing and publishing short stories as well. The pay is terrible (as always) but that’s not the point, the point is to get your name out there in the genre fiction world, so you have credits to list on your Novel or screenplay. It really helps when you’re looking for a competent agent. The short story submission guidelines are very strict and a lot of the older publications like Analog and F&SF are very good about laboriously spelling out what they don’t want, which really helps new writers get what has been done a billion times and what’s really new.

  • Portlander

    Not that you asked, and apologies if this is opening Pandora’s Box, but I’ll mention a couple really good missing nodes are 28 Sherman and Conservative Treehouse.

    50-80% of the comments on the latter are incredibly, and I do I mean _incredibly_, lame but in harmless way. I’m impressed by the hosts ability to suffer them. It’s like a 50’s sitcom, the cool Fonz and his crew of dunces.

  • Randoms | Foseti

    [...] – educationrealist shares some thoughts on being in the dark enlightenment. [...]

  • jamesd127

    Because most folks have absolutely no idea how huge the gaps are, and it’s just possible that the schools weren’t actively discriminating.

    Segregation was a form of affirmative action. The intent of the policy was to have good quality blacks ruling over ordinary blacks, analogous to the caliphate policy for dealing with ethnic diversity.

    For which they needed black lawyers, black judges, black businessmen, etc – who needed, and received, protection from white competition. Segregation manufactured a black middle class to govern ordinary blacks, a middle class that had real work to do, unlike the soul destroying makework done by today’s black middle class.

  • Remnant

    A half dozen or so years ago when Rob Dreher was developing his idea of the “crunchy con”, Jonah Goldberg wrote up several responses to and reviews of Dreher’s articles and book on the topic. My reaction to Education Realist’s posting here is similar to Goldberg’s reaction to Dreher: why are we buying into other people’s negative stereotypes and assumptions about ourselves? Running through Dreher’s work, Goldberg pointed out, was an implicit acceptance of the liberal assumption that conservatives are mean and nasty, wasteful and don’t’ care about the environment and (trivially) wholesome food. Dreher was essentially tarring his conservative brethren with the exact same brush used by liberals: “GOOD conservatives (like me) are NICE people and we shop at whole foods; GOOD conservatives are kind people (not like those nasty mean conservatives).” Etc. etc.

    Now, I understand that in your case, you do not identify politically with many of the people appearing on the Dark Enlightenment network graphic. But the gist of your post is that you don’t belong (or feel comfortable) there, not due to political disagreement, but because – well – you’re a really nice guy and not hateful (like those guys). You hold the positions you hold purely out of a reverence for the truth, not like THOSE guys. But why do you think that THOSE people are motivated by anything other than an adherence to the pursuit of truth? Most of the people on the list – from Steve Sailer, Charles Murray, Fred Reed, Lion/HalfSigma to Vox to Roissy to Jared Taylor, Hunter Wallace and others – strike me as truthseekers. Have you ever seen Jared Taylor presenting his ideas: he is civil, measured and polite but nevertheless he is subject to vicious attacks, sometimes physical, by his tolerant, nice, kindly political opponents. Even someone like Hunter Wallace, who comes off as more explicitly “old school” racialist, reserves most of his animus for Northern whites! I wouldn’t be surprised if Hunter Wallace has more black acquaintances than most “anti-racists”.

    Anyway, the point is that your post implicitly ascribes hateful and evil motives to people who strike me as far more concerned with both truth and civility than most of their political opponents. It is one thing to disagree with them politically; quite another to feel that you are a seeker of truth, while they are mere nasty pieces of humanity who happen to have reached the right conclusions about certain issues for the wrong reasons.

    • educationrealist

      1) I feel perfectly comfortable on the network and placed correctly.

      2) I don’t think any of the people are hateful—at least, no one I mentioned, and if any of the others are I’m unaware of it.

      3) I don’t implicitly or explicitly ascribe hateful or evil motives to my brethren.

      4) I identify politically with many people on the network.

      5) The gist of my post was that I think everyone on the network–including me–tend to forget sometimes that there’s a lot of beauty in the world that has been created by the openness of the past, and that it’s understandable, if almost certainly wrong, to want to believe it will continue. I advised a larger dose of empathy—something that, as I said, I lack myself.

      You are apparently deluding yourself that I wrote a bunch of platitudinous hooha because that’s all you’re capable of thinking or writing yourself.

      Oh, and I’m not a nice guy.

  • Death by Openness

    Your points about openness and personal empathy for immigrants are interesting. Your view toward the world likely is similar to mine, but I suspect that you and I – and the many like us – are leading our cultural to its demise.

    We object to additional immigration on a policy level, but tolerate it on a personal level. We meet – and, perhaps, become friends – with immigrants. We may live in mixed neighborhoods and enjoy the different peoples. We treat individuals with respect and manners, since they are often good people.

    However, this tolerance leads to a welcoming land for immigrants. And what immigrant from a poor and often violent land wouldn’t want to move a rich, safe and tolerant land. Thus, they come. They come and slowly dilute the culture and the country that was built over 300 years. Will that country remain so rich, so safe and so tolerant as those who built it are replaced by Mestizo Mexicans, Indian and Nigerians. Unlikely.

    Again, are the vast majority of these people good, decent folk? Yes. Will having them in this country in overwhelming numbers change the middle-class culture that developed over the centuries? Very likely.

    In 20 to 50 years, this country will look much like a South American country – and I’m not talking about Argentina. If people think that we have income inequality now, they ain’t seen nothing yet. How tolerant are these newcomers? Not nearly as tolerant as those of us who welcomed them. The world won’t end when the traditional American culture finally dies, but I will miss it.

    As I’ve grown older, I’ve gained a much deeper understanding of intolerance. To preserve a culture or a people or a religion, you need to have a certain amount of “unfair” intolerance. It’s ugly. It’s repulsive. But it’s necessary. You can’t just be intolerant to the bad illegal immigrants. You have to be intolerant to all of them. Otherwise, more will come.

    Ask people in hundreds of neighborhoods who were tolerant when the first couple of black families moved in. These were good people, good neighbors. We should treat them kindly. But once the neighborhood was seen as open to blacks, more moved in. Cousins and some of the children of those nice parents sometimes weren’t so nice. A decade or two later and the neighborhood is destroyed. I wonder how many of those kind, tolerant whites hiding behind their doors wish that they had been a little less tolerant years before?

    Again, I’m one of those nice, tolerant people, so if I’m casting stones, it’s at myself as much as anyone.

    • educationrealist

      I don’t disagree with much of this. However, I have faith in the American people as a whole, who are (like us) nice on an individual level but don’t support immigration. It’s the elites and the courts that make me nervous.

  • Jim

    But it’s the elites and the courts who run the country. Ordinary Americans are of little importance.

  • mindweapon

    It’s all over when there will be no more money in it any more. when the Corn Syrup Cornucopia fails. I can’t wait.

    The liberal project is doomed to failure when multiculturalism succeeds – Keith Alexander, co-host of thepoliticalcesspool.org

  • Jim

    The left is entering into the terminal phase of total looniness. But don’t think that it’s collapse will be gentle.

  • New Rise

    Does Roissy lack empathy? Perhaps. However, you must understand the mating market young men find themselves in today. It can be brutal. Young men don’t readily see it as fun, they are likely to see it angering, when the women go for the jerks and the charlatans and shallow characters. Young men in this age aren’t used to forming the types of long term emotional relationships anymore, in favor of shallow flings where what is on your mind is how best to insult them and the empathy is removed. Much of game is exactly that, knowing how to treat them like you don’t care about them, the aloof alpha attitude. It can be depressing at times, but it works.

    • educationrealist

      I don’t disagree with any of that. And I have no idea if Roissy (that’s heartiste?) lacks empathy. His blog writing does, which isn’t the same thing.

      I don’t know if he should change or not. What I wonder about is whether or not it shocks people who might otherwise be, er, converts. And what I worry about is that it is used to tar him, even though his advice is brutally useful, and anyone else. I don’t worry a lot, but it is a concern.

      • Randall Parker (@futurepundit)

        I think excessive empathy is a major cause of the suppression of research into human nature. I could be wrong about that. I’m not clear on the relative contributions of the various factors that cause the Cathedral to suppress the truth.

  • Red Pill Theory

    Bravura post ER. Everybody carries the “dark enlightenment” knowledge their own way. In some ways it’s almost easier to join the cathedral.

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  • ghazi-less

    “My opinions require bifocals; one lens for broader policy, one lens for the individuals I work with every day. I might oppose immigration, particularly illegal immigration, and affirmative action, but I will advise my students of every possible option they have under existing law.”

    I do the same–I get every available privilege for my black students, even though I desperately want a society where there are no special privileges for blacks. Maybe that’s being a good teacher. Or maybe that’s related to what G.K. Chesterton said about Jews: that he liked them as individuals, but decried the effect they had upon society.

    • educationrealist

      I don’t decry the effect blacks or any group has on society, in any way. I do decry the impact the self-satisfied emphasis on “tolerance” has had on society, but that’s different.

      I am often stunned by the ways in which teaching has affected—not changed, but affected—my world view. For example, I have always believed that group differences are useful for understanding large societal outcomes, but are useless as a predictor for individual behaviors. As a teacher, I not only see this in action every single day, but also find enormous satisfaction in helping low ability kids improve in any way. Their satisfaction is mine. I genuinely understand what teachers mean now when they say test scores are irrelevant. I don’t agree in terms of public policy, but as a teacher, I only want my students to improve and feel more competent, whether or not it shows up on the test.

  • J Green

    I would be proud to be on any network that included Fred Reed as a node.

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