Duncan's Call for School Turnarounds Sparks Debate
By Catherine Gewertz
The U.S. secretary of education’s call to “turn around” the nation’s 5,000 worst-performing schools has found a warm welcome among educators and policymakers who see that focus as long overdue. But it has also sparked debate about how—and whether—such an enormous leadership and management challenge can be accomplished.
Arne Duncan is pressing for attention to chronically underperforming schools as one of four areas that states must address if they are to receive federal economic-stimulus aid. Those schools have failed to make academic progress year after year, the secretary said in a June speech, but “too many administrators are unwilling to close failing schools and create better options.”
Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, Mr. Duncan wrote in a Commentary that month in Education Week, school officials have not made dramatic changes in troubled schools but have “taken the path of least resistance.”
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