Education: When Schools Become Jungles

New Jersey moves to take over a failing urban system

Over the past two decades, too many big-city public schools have degenerated into jungles of incompetence, failed objectives, even violent crime. A million U.S. high schoolers drop out annually, joining a swelling underclass of unemployables. In Los Angeles, only 229 youngsters of 1,918 at one typical school can read up to grade level. In New York City, classroom thugs committed 1,606 assaults on school grounds last year. A showcase failure among the wreckage has been Jersey City, an 86% minority system where only 25.9% of ninth-graders can pass standard proficiency exams.

Last week, in an unprecedented move, New Jersey's board of...

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