WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO?

HOW IN ONE AMERICAN CITY, BALTIMORE, A BIG SCHOOL SYSTEM MANAGED TO SPEND MILLIONS OF DOLLARS ON BUREAUCRACY AND DUBIOUS SPECIAL PROGRAMS--BUT ALL TOO LITTLE ON THE KIDS

Everybody knows that money is a crucial ingredient in a school's success. There is something absurd, and deeply unfair, about a nationwide system of funding that provides the least amount of money to the most impoverished students. But cries of poverty obscure the role of other, equally powerful forces that determine how well a school system manages the money it does get. Each year, schools receive a torrent of funds. Exactly where this money ends up, however, is often something of a mystery, embedded in budgets that might as well have been written in Sanskrit.

TIME set out to track the...