Turning Around Failing Schools

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Barack Obama is going after schools that flunk the test. The president intends to use $5 billion to prod local officials into closing failing schools and reopening them with new teachers and principals.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan says the goal is to turn around 5,000 failing schools in the next five years. That could translate to $1 million for every school targeted for turnaround.  The plan is to beef up funding for the federal school turnaround program, created by the No Child Left Behind law, which gets about $500 million a year. The stimulus legislation boosted funding to $3.5 billion.

Obama's budget would add another $1.5 billion by shifting dollars away from traditional formula programs. Obama doesn't have authority to close and reopen schools himself. That power rests with local school districts and states. But he has an incentive in the economic stimulus law, which requires states to help failing schools improve.