What to do about these "dropout factories" and the elementary and middle schools that feed ill-prepared youngsters into them? Here Maryland has nothing to be proud of. With almost no exceptions, the state has opted to leave those dire schools in the hands of the districts that let them get that way. Unlike states that have forcefully intervened — wrangling dismal schools into "recovery" districts, for example, turning them into charter schools, outsourcing their management, or simply closing their doors — Maryland has eschewed all such threats to "local control." Nor has the state been willing to give more than a few kids exit passes so they can attend other schools. Yes, there's a tiny voucher program and a smattering of charter schools, but Maryland has the country's weakest charter law and basically leaves it up to those self-same districts to decide whether to have any charters at all — and empowers districts to keep them on very short leashes. It's next to impossible in Maryland for disgruntled parents even to move their children into other district schools.