Can Robert Bobb Fix Detroit's Public Schools?

Detroit's public schools have been mismanaged for years and in some cases simply abandoned. Can Robert Bobb fix them? Can anyone?

Hal Bergman / Getty

On a recent morning, a crowd filled a downtown Detroit courtroom for the sentencing of a 19-year-old ninth-grade dropout caught breaking into a public school, apparently to steal computers. The hearing's main attraction was not the guilty man or the judge but Robert Bobb, the state-appointed emergency financial manager of Detroit's public schools. In the last six months of 2009, Bobb told the court, nearly 500 computers were stolen from schools, costing his system some $600,000. "The Detroit public-school system isn't an electronics store," he said.

This isn't the kind of problem most school chiefs in the U.S. have to worry...

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