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Failing schools: Should we cut our losses, or fight to reform them?

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To advocates, such restructuring is vital to the urgent work of improving public education. "You need bold moves and radical change," said Eric Lerum, a vice president at StudentsFirst, a national education advocacy group.

But several studies, including a paper published in March in the Journal of Urban Economics, have found that displacing students through school closures can hurt them academically in the short term. The new research, conducted by the RAND Corp think tank, also found the closures didn't boost student achievement in the long term, even among those who transferred into schools considered far better.

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