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Letters: Bill Gates, moms at work

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Kai Ryssdal:A whole lot of you wrote this week about my interview with Bill Gates. Among other things, he suggested that teachers might be willing to take on bigger class sizes if you just payed ’em just a little bit more.

Carrie Johnston teaches elementary school in East Oakland, Calif. And she could not possibly disagree more.

Carrie Johnston: I know he’s a billionaire, but he is not a teacher, and he has no idea of the difference between teaching 20 and 30 six-year-olds, who have very diverse needs — from those who can read 120 words a minute to those who don’t speak a word of English to those who are struggling with learning disabilities.

Joel Patterson of Cambridge, Mass., meanwhile, questioned Gates’ assertion that student improvement has been flat. He says the numbers — from a study called the National Assessment of Educational Progress — don’t lie.

Joel Patterson: For nine-year-olds, the averages in math from the 1970s to 2008: among white students, is up 25 points; among black students, up 34 points; among Hispanics, up 32.

Lisa Dunn’s a teacher and soon-to-be-mom in Silver Spring, Md. She wrote about David Leonhardt’s commentary on how companies can profit by helping women like her balance work and family.

Lisa Dunn: I’m astounded by the lack of support that exists in U.S. society. A mere search of comparable workplace family policy around the world shows that the United States has lacked to progress in the way that so many other less “economically powerful” nations have done.

Finally, from Danielle Barboza of Glen Cove, N.Y., a simple question. At the end of the numbers every day, when I talk about the 10-year T-note and where the price and yield wound up that day — what is that, she wanted to know. The short answer is that it’s a bond issued by the Treasury Department on which investors collect interest. The trick is that with those bonds — I.O.U.s, really — that they can be bought and sold on the open market. Which affects the yield, or interest rate. The reason we talk about it is that it’s kind of the benchmark for the whole bond market, and the bond market can be a pretty good way to tell how the whole economy is expected to do.

So if you’ve got a note for us, you can drop it here.

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