In the News: President Obama Plans to Aid Failing Schools

By Chris Swails

President Obama will offer $900 million in grants to failing school districts around the nation. But in order to receive this money school districts will be forced to take drastic actions, they must adopt one of four approaches:

  • The Turnaround Model – The school district must replace the principal and at least half of school staff, implement a new model of governance and a revised instructional program.
  • Restart Model – In this case, the school will be required to close and reopen under charter management. Schools would then enroll students in the grades it teaches.
  • School Closure – The failing school would be required to close its doors and enroll students in a near-by higher achieving school.
  • Transformation Model – The school must address teacher effectiveness, instruction, learning and teacher planning time and operational flexibility.

The Obama administration is also putting $50 million into dropout prevention strategies such as individual instruction and support to keep students engaged in learning. Also a better use of data to identify a students risk of failure and better preparation for college. According to White House numbers, 1.2 million students drop out of school each year and about 70% of students who enter high school go on to graduate.

A 2006 story by USA Today discussed the lowest to highest graduation rates in the nations 50 largest school districts. Here are the ten lowest:

1. Detroit, MI – 21.7%

2. Baltimore City, MD – 38.5%

3. New York City, NY – 38.9%

4. Milwaukee, WI – 43.1%

5. Cleveland, OH – 43.8%

6. Los Angeles, CA – 44.2%

7. Miama Dada County, FL – 45.3%

8. Dallas, TX – 46.3%

9. Pinelles County, FL – 46.5%

10. Denver, CO – 46.8%

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