Jim Epstein on the Slow and Glorious Death of America's Worst School System

Per-pupil spending of $27,500 hasn't helped Camden's schools.


Camden, New Jersey is the poorest and most dangerous city in America. ||| Blake Bollinger/Creative Commons
Blake Bollinger/Creative Commons

Camden, New Jersey's public school system can't be saved—but it is on track to disappear. Every year, more students flee the city's dangerous and dilapidated schools, which spend a staggering $27,500 per pupil, for privately-run public charters that do a much better job at keeping them safe and preparing them for the workforce. In New Jersey, charters siphon money away from the traditional school system, which is one of their best features. Within the next decade, writes Jim Epstein, the Camden school district is on course to enter a death spiral, sending the city the way of New Orleans, which has almost completely replaced its traditional schools with charters.