Federal Effort Spurs Progress
Feb 24, 1:00 AM
Walk into this tiny charter school and you might have to pinch yourself. While other San Diego schools trim the school year to save money, needy kids here soak up a dozen extra hours of instruction a week. Last year, the Obama administration launched a national program to invest heavily in major reforms — dubbed "turnarounds" — in the lowest 5 percent of schools across the country. The Arts Academy is one of just four schools in San Diego County that got funding to change their fates and up their test scores. But while the Arts Academy epitomizes the promise of the federal push, its big grant has also been tagged as an example of how the state mismanaged it. Critics complained that giving one school over $7,700 per student annually — more than any other California school according to one analysis — was an outrageous symptom of a bigger problem: that some schools got much more than others.