A School Reformer Drops Out

He had become a leading campaigner for root-and-branch school reform, and had begun turning around a chronically underperforming urban district--efforts that landed him a prominent place in BUSINESS WEEK's Apr. 17 cover story on education. But on Apr. 18, Howard Fuller abruptly resigned as Milwaukee's school superintendent, angrily blaming "powerful forces of the status quo" for impeding further progress.

Fuller's departure brings to at least a half dozen the number of big cities without a superintendent, striking evidence of the challenges facing reform. Fuller won plaudits for implementing accountability measures and recruiting businesses to help redesign Milwaukee's curriculum. But unions chafed over proposals to close failing schools and start charter schools free of district control.

Most educators believe Milwaukee's reforms will continue. But the dustup suggests that such efforts need to be built on broader coalitions that include unions. As for Fuller, he says he prefers to stay in Milwaukee "to fight for families and kids."

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