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Idea of the Day: Federal Policy Can Help Fix Systemic Problems in Schools

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Large numbers of schools across the country are low performing and have been for years. This longstanding and widespread problem painfully reveals that individual schools are not the only ones responsible for their performance. The public school system as a whole is unable, and sometimes unwilling, to address the root causes of dysfunction.

Districts rapidly introduce piecemeal reforms at low-performing schools but neglect larger issues of human capital and leadership. Restrictive state policies and lack of time or expertise prevent state education agencies from effectively managing district reforms. Significant and sustained interventions, with strong support and oversight from outside of the school, are necessary to interrupt continuous cycles of underperformance.

Federal policy can play an instrumental role in rectifying the systemic failures that allow schools to flounder. The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA, is a ripe opportunity to revise the law’s main program that supports school improvement—the School Improvement Grant fund.

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To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Katie Peters (economy, education, poverty, Half in Ten Education Fund)
202.741.6285 or

Print: Anne Shoup (foreign policy and national security, energy, LGBT issues, health care, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7146 or

Print: Crystal Patterson (immigration)
202.478.6350 or

Print: Madeline Meth (women's issues, Legal Progress, higher education)
202.741.6277 or

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Tanya Arditi
202.741.6258 or

TV: Lindsay Hamilton
202.483.2675 or

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or


This is part of a regular column: Idea of the Day

For more from the same column, click here