The posting by Waly Wane on quality of education in Tanzania asks "Why do schools in some districts appear to be doing so much better than others, even with the same resources?" A study by local educators in Singida in about 2005 found that two important variables were whether the monthly stipends arrived on time and whether the school had at least some well-qualified teachers. I heard later that using this information the region moved in about three years from being in the last three in exam results to being in the top third of regions, albeit at the bottom end of this group. If true, these changes requiring little cost undoubtedly contributed to a seriousness of purpose that may have been lacking beforehand. I've seen this seriousness in a town in Brazil where everyone in the town's schools was committed to children attending school every day. When I asked one school head what she did if a child didn't show up, she looked at me like I was an idiot and said "we go to his house to get him." Closer to home, the rural primary school in the town next to mine in northern Vermont got the best testing results in the state last year, and the school head was Vermont's "Principal of the year". When this principal talks she exudes an expectation and a confidence that ALL her students will learn. This hit home to me when I met a woman I know who serves lunches at this school in the supermarket and she exuded the same passion and conviction about learning that the school had has. There's a lot to be said for paying more attention to attitudes towards what we expect from learners and to how seriously we take our responsibilities. Could it be that our reliance on research analyses and right policies obscures this visceral aspect of helping young people learn?