Broad Acres and Adelphi elementary schools are neighbors serving an impoverished corner of the Washington, D.C. suburbs that is home to thousands of recent immigrants. But because the first school sits within the affluent and well-regarded Montgomery County district, and the second resides in Prince George's County, an urbanized district with the typical challenges that label implies, their realities and resources couldn't be more different. Montgomery County has lavished all sorts of love on Broad Acres--a longer school year, smaller class sizes, full-day kindergarten, an army of ESOL experts, and more. It helps that the school receives $1,750 in federal Title I funds for every student; Adelphi gets only one-third as much. Moreover, Prince George's principals are tied down by one of the most restrictive teacher contracts in the country, while Montgomery boasts one of the better collective bargaining agreements. School-by-school reform efforts are great, but what's the takeaway from this story? It's the system, stupid. It's time we tackled antiquated funding systems, outmoded collective bargaining agreements, and all other manner of red tape that impede schools from success.

"Nearby Schools, Worlds Apart," by Daniel de Vise, Washington Post, February 26, 2008

"Some Teachers' Contracts Bind Reforms, Study Says," by Nelson Hernandez, Washington Post, February 25, 2008

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