Education Secretary Arne Duncan has vowed to press states to remake the 5,000 or so chronically failing schools that account for about half of the nation’s dropouts and usually serve — or more to the point fail to serve — the poorest children. A $4 billion school improvement fund is intended to give states the help and the incentive to turn these schools around.
Piecemeal plans that evaporate once the grant money is spent won’t do the job. Only comprehensive, districtwide approaches deserve to be financed.
Local administrators — and the Department of Education in Washington — should be paying close attention to what is happening in North Carolina’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system.
Two years ago, district administrators adopted an innovative staffing system intended to put the best principals in the most troubled schools — and give them the autonomy they need to succeed. While Charlotte was already one of the highest-performing urban systems in the country, it has made progress since then.