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Act One: Mr. Central High

Susan Drury tells the story of Chauncey Julius, who ended up in over his head completely by accident. As a high school student, Chauncey decided to turn his life around, only to be overwhelmed by all the attention he got for his achievements.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks to Jonathan Gold about the bully in high school who knocked Jonathan and his cello down the stairs one day as he was walking to history class—and why Jonathan felt a sudden surge of satisfaction about this almost three decades later.

Act One: Who Takes The Class Out Of Class Reunion

Jon Ronson goes to his high school reunion to try to figure out why his schoolmates—his friends!—threw him in a lake when he was sixteen. The only trouble is, no one at the reunion seems to remember it quite the way he does.

Act One: Mother Of Invention

Karen Sosnoski's one-year-old son, Anton, was born with what's known as Mosaic Down Syndrome, a rare condition where some of his cells have the extra chromosome that causes Down syndrome and other cells don't. So as he grows, he could end up having all the health risks and challenges of Downs syndrome...or just a few of them. Through a website, Karen found a kid with the same diagnosis, named Tim Colvin, who was doing really well...perhaps because his mother, Kristy, invented a surprising and unusual way to raise her son.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks to Adam Stein about the very real cat-and-mouse game between his friends and the vice principal of his high school that preoccupied them throughout their high school careers.

Prologue

Kristy Kruger realized in college just how bad her high school education had been. She was always having to pretend she knew what the people around here were talking about when she didn't know.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass tells the story of Marisela and Yadira, who were honors students in high school. They wanted to go to the best colleges, but they couldn't get federally-funded scholarships because they weren't U.S. citizens; they had come from Mexico when they were little.

Prologue

When Ira heard that Cathy La Luz, the best public school teacher he'd met during all his years of education reporting, was considering leaving her job, he went to see her in her classroom.

Act One: 1994

Washington Irving Elementary School became a model of school reform in Chicago a decade ago. The school did it without adding a ton more money.

Act Two: 2004

We continue with the story of Irving Elementary, and hear what's happened to make Cathy La Luz think about quitting. In just nine months, the reforms that had made the school a model began to unravel.

Act One: I'd Rather Not

The story of Colin's truancy continues. The whole thing was especially awkward for his dad, because he's a behavior specialist for 100 public schools in Oregon—including Colin's school.

Prologue

It seems apples for the teacher is a bygone tradition. Host Ira Glass talks to Mindy, a first-grade teacher, about the rather racy gifts her students give these days at Christmas.

Act Two

Brent Runyon tells the story of the day in eighth grade that he set himself on fire...and what led to that. He wasn't a loner, he had friends, his mother was a teacher, his parents took an interest in his life.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks with a bunch of special ed students. By and large, they thought of themselves as regular kids—until each experienced a shocking moment of revelation when they discovered that they were not the same as other kids, and that the other kids already knew that...and had known for a long time.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks with Kayla Hernandez, a seventh-grader who likes to reminisce about when she was a child, back in fifth grade. She visits Room 211 in her school, where her fifth grade class met, and looks at her old books, thinks about what happened there.