President Obama proposed $900 million in school grants today designed to improve low-performing schools, particularly those with high dropout rates, USA Today reports. “Over 1 million students don’t finish high school each year,” Obama said during an education event at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, adding that most dropouts are in the African-American and Latino communities. There may have been a time when kids could leave school and still get a good enough blue collar job to pay the bills, Obama said, but: “That’s just not the case anymore.” The $900 million in grants targets states with graduation rates of less than 60 percent, the president said. Schools that fail to increase those rates face the prospect of new principals, new managements, or even outright closure. Obama spoke at an event sponsored by America’s Promise Alliance, led by one of his prominent supporters: Former general and Republican administration official Colin Powell.

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staff and wire services reports