Education: English Ain't No Snap

"Every morning I awake with an empty feeling, as if there had been a death in the family," says white-haired Floyd Rinker, veteran of 32 years of English teaching at Newton (Mass.) High School. What depresses Rinker is the generally sad state of the 90,000 English teachers in U.S. secondary schools—public, private and parochial.

Rinker well knows that English teaching can be impossibly hard. The "normal" high school teaching load is 125 to 150 pupils a day. If a teacher assigns 125 pupils one 500-word essay a week, allowing 15 minutes apiece to correct them, he faces more than 30 hours of...

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