The cover story of this week's Business Week describes the successess and failures of the Gates Foundation's attempts to fix public high schools
. This is an interesting story because the Gates are not starry-eyed in their assessment of education's problems. They are real, and solutions are elusive and difficult to replicate. The keys pointed to in the article are visionary principals with tight control over whom gets hired, and that it's much easier to start a new school than rebuild one that is failing. It's not a surprise for us who read these stories of education time after time. It might help, though, to show that the "we're fine, just add money" notion of educational reform is not working, and unlikely to ever work. And closing some schools may be needed.
...as many as 1,000 of the country's 20,000 public high schools are so hopeless that they should simply be closed. That may be so, but the real question is whether financially stretched educational systems can muster the leadership and expertise to come up with more effective replacements.