Students in Union City, N.J., get twice the funding of students in California. They attend two years of full-day kindergarten. Recent immigrants to this country are taught initially in their native language.
For all their differences, though, there are also some core similarities with California districts like Sanger, Garden Grove and Long Beach, which author David Kirp identifies in his latest book, among the beat-the-odds districts. Chief among them: a focus on the long view, with a steadfast purpose and longevity in leadership.