Special Report
Federal

Obama Wants to Turn Around 5,000 Failing Schools

By The Associated Press — May 11, 2009 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

President Barack Obama intends to use $5 billion to prod local officials to close failing schools and reopen them with new teachers and principals.

The goal is to turn around 5,000 failing schools in the next five years, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Monday.

The plan is to beef up funding for the federal school turnaround program, created by the No Child Left Behind law, which gets about $500 million a year. The stimulus legislation boosted funding to $3.5 billion. Obama’s budget would add another $1.5 billion by shifting dollars away from traditional formula programs.

Obama doesn’t have authority to close and reopen schools himself. That power rests with local school districts and states. But he has an incentive in the economic stimulus law, which requires states to help failing schools improve.

Duncan said that might mean firing an entire staff and bringing in a new one, replacing a principal or turning a school over to a charter school operator. The point, he said, is to take bold action in persistently low-achieving schools.

“Our students have one chance — one chance — to get a quality education,” Duncan said in a speech Monday to the Brookings Institution think tank.

“If we turn around just the bottom 1 percent, the bottom thousand schools per year for the next five years, we could really move the needle, lift the bottom and change the lives of tens of millions of underserved children,” Duncan said.

In particular, the administration wants to fix middle schools and high schools, focusing on “dropout factories” where two in five kids don’t make it to graduation.

Duncan, a former Chicago schools chief, has plenty of experience with school turnarounds. Chicago targeted several public schools for turnaround, eight of them last year, while Duncan was still in charge. It’s too soon to know how the eight fared.

The plan to focus on failing schools is part of an effort by Obama to fundamentally change the perception of what works in education. It comes as the administration prepares to rewrite President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind education law.

The president already has channeled an unprecedented amount of money into the traditional federal funding for elementary, middle and high schools in his economic stimulus law.

But Obama also plans big boosts for newer and, some argue, untested ideas, plowing more dollars into school turnarounds as well as merit pay for teachers.

“Here’s a chance to do something dramatically different,” Duncan told The Associated Press after his speech. “I don’t want to lose that opportunity.”

Combined with the budget plan released last week, Obama may have as much as $5 billion to facilitate school turnarounds, which could translate to $1 million for every school targeted for turnaround.

Related Tags:

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How To Tackle The Biggest Hurdles To Effective Tutoring
Learn how districts overcome the three biggest challenges to implementing high-impact tutoring with fidelity: time, talent, and funding.
Content provided by Saga Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Reframing Behavior: Neuroscience-Based Practices for Positive Support
Reframing Behavior helps teachers see the “why” of behavior through a neuroscience lens and provides practices that fit into a school day.
Content provided by Crisis Prevention Institute
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
Math for All: Strategies for Inclusive Instruction and Student Success
Looking for ways to make math matter for all your students? Gain strategies that help them make the connection as well as the grade.
Content provided by NMSI

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Opinion 'Jargon' and 'Fads': Departing IES Chief on State of Ed. Research
Better writing, timelier publication, and more focused research centers can help improve the field, Mark Schneider says.
7 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Federal Electric School Buses Get a Boost From New State and Federal Policies
New federal standards for emissions could accelerate the push to produce buses that run on clean energy.
3 min read
Stockton Unified School District's new electric bus fleet reduces over 120,000 pounds of carbon emissions and leverages The Mobility House's smart charging and energy management system.
A new rule from the Environmental Protection Agency sets higher fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty vehicles. By 2032, it projects, 40 percent of new medium heavy-duty vehicles, including school buses, will be electric.
Business Wire via AP
Federal What Would Happen to K-12 in a 2nd Trump Term? A Detailed Policy Agenda Offers Clues
A conservative policy agenda could offer the clearest view yet of K-12 education in a second Trump term.
8 min read
Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, March 9, 2024, in Rome Ga.
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally, March 9, 2024, in Rome, Ga. Allies of the former president have assembled a detailed policy agenda for every corner of the federal government with the idea that it would be ready for a conservative president to use at the start of a new term next year.
Mike Stewart/AP
Federal Opinion Student Literacy Rates Are Concerning. How Can We Turn This Around?
The ranking Republican senator on the education committee wants to hear from educators and families about making improvements.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty