President Barack Obama's administration now spends about $3 billion to "turn around" struggling schools -- driven by the belief that existing schools can be improved. However, former New Jersey Deputy Education Commissioner Andy Smarick says such efforts are unlikely to succeed. While Smarick advocates that independently-owned charter schools be opened in their place, some education researchers say reforms should focus on poor students' "opportunity gap" -- reaching beyond academics and into housing, health care and jobs.

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