N.Y. Times: "U.S. effort to reshape schools faces challenges"


CHICAGO — As chief executive of the Chicago public schools, Arne Duncan closed more than a dozen of the city’s worst schools, reopening them with new principals and teachers. People who worked with him, and some who fought him, say those school turnarounds were worth the effort, but all aroused intense opposition.

"It's always painful," said David Pickens, who was Mr. Duncan's top lieutenant in the school makeover efforts here. "It’s like a root canal every year."

Now Mr. Duncan, President Obama’s education secretary, wants to take school turnaround efforts nationwide on a scale never tried before. In speeches and interviews, he said he would press local authorities to close thousands of the country’s worst schools, the dropout factories where only a tiny fraction of students are reading at grade level, and reopen them with new staff members.


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