Education: Over & Over & Over

For four weeks, the slim, blue-eyed young woman had buzzed over the back roads of Georgia, stopping off at one school after another. At each stop she interviewed teachers and pupils, while a photographer took pictures of their classrooms. By the time she had finished her tour, 33-year-old Reporter Margaret Shannon of the Atlanta Journal had enough material for 15 articles—and a shocking portrait of just how bad U.S. rural schools can be.

Reporter Shannon's articles, running in the Journal this week, began with Zebulon High School in Pike County, an unkempt building with creaking steps and crumbling plaster, and a rusty...

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