Education: First Things First

Few U.S. school superintendents have a tougher job—or a better record—than Carl Francis Hansen, 54, who heads the public schools of Washington, D.C. Like most big cities, Washington suffers all of urban public education's growing ills: crowded classrooms, underpaid teachers, juvenile delinquency. But Superintendent Hansen has extra trouble. In Dixie-oriented Washington, "massive" integration sparked a continuing exodus of white pupils to private schools and the suburbs; 76.7% of the city's 118,244 students are now Negro, up 20% since 1953.

While grappling with this legacy, Hansen has found time to launch an astonishing campaign to raise academic standards. In the two years since...

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