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What’s Happened in the Rural School District Obama Fought to Save

But in other ways, the president came late to addressing what experts and locals say are the specific needs of poor rural communities like Dillon, where roughly two-thirds of students are African-American, one-third are white and 90 percent are low-income. Dillon was lucky to have the president personally invested in improving its schools. President Obama’s signature education policies such as Race to the Top and the expanded School Improvement Grant program to turn around low-performing schools didn’t always reach places like Dillon and Southern communities like it, however, where schools face the triple problems of poverty, a legacy of racial segregation and distance from jobs and resources that could help uplift the community.