A Quick Fix for America's Worst Schools

The White House is devoting $4 billion to turning around America's worst schools. Will these extreme makeovers work?

Bill Cramer for TIME

Philadelphia handed over this district school and two others to a charter operator.

"Ba-Boom!" Leroy Hayes describes sitting in his seventh-grade English class at Philadelphia's Shoemaker Middle School when he heard the explosion. It was startling but not necessarily surprising, he says. Crazy stuff happened all the time at Shoemaker. Once, he recalls, a student urinated into a soda bottle during class and threw it in a math instructor's face. Crazy stuff. After hearing the big explosion, Hayes and his friends rushed out of the room and discovered that someone had set off fireworks in the corridor. "The school was in chaos," the 11th-grader remembers of the 2005 incident. "People were laughing and screaming...

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