President Reagan today unveiled a guide intended to help transform schools in inner cities and other pockets of poverty into a "ladder for success" for disadvantaged children.
Reagan's education secretary, William J. Bennett, said the handbook lays out what amounts to "the best strategy for breaking the cycle of poverty."
The how-to booklet, "Schools That Work: Educating Disadvantaged Children," is the third in a series of guides for parents and educators prepared by Bennett's department.
It profiles nearly two dozen schools and programs that have rung up sterling achievement scores and low dropout rates in the depressed surroundings that are usually synonymous with failure and fractured lives.
Reagan received the report today at a White House ceremony attended by civic leaders and some of the educators whose accomplishments are praised in the handbook.
Bennett, meeting with reporters today, said the successful schools often have no more resources than unsuccessful ones, but they deploy them better.
"What happens to these children in many cases is nothing less than transforming," he said.
Bennett also said a strong principal often makes the difference. The book advises school officials to "get the right principal. The right man or woman can change a poor school into a good school and can make a good school a great school."
He said the schools cited in the booklet "do not trade fundamentals for novelty, and they tend to avoid what is not tried and true."
The education chief said, "Too many schools serving disadvantaged children are characterized by low test scores, poor achievement, lax discipline, and an inability to retain and graduate their students."