Large urban districts face huge challenges in terms of funding, urban pathologies, and the indifference of people who do not live in them. However, there is a structural problem that inhibits their progress, I believe.
As the reform movement continues to swell across the country more eyes will be on the principal, as well as other district leaders, and their ability to ensure student learning and increase achievement.
Many would probably tell you that a respected and effective principal is one who looks at the reality of their school site and doesn't automatically blame the staff for the many ills that may plague it.
Education seems to exist in a universe outside of traditional nonprofit and private sectors. As a result, we see people with passion, but without the business savvy to build super efficient environments.