Despite the constant public outcry about the crisis in education in the United States, every large city has one or more outstanding and often widely recognized public schools. Some of these appear to succeed because they serve children of wealthy, well-educated parents or because they are magnet or charter schools that can screen out unmotivated or low-achieving students. However, there are also ordinary schools that serve disadvantaged and minority children in inner-city or rural locations and, year after year, produce outstanding achievement outcomes. Such schools play a crucial role in reminding us that the problems of our school system have little to do with the capabilities of children; they provide our best evidence that all children can learn. Yet the success of these lighthouse ...

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