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Drug dealing in American high schools can look as innocent as buying an ice cream cone. And that is exactly what happened in El Paso, Texas, last year.

An ice cream vendor decided to dish out another flavor last year in the student parking lot at Riverside High School in the Ysleta Independent School District, which borders Mexico, and this time it was Ganja ala Mode.

The legitimate ice cream vendor was handing out ice cream cones filled with marijuana to up to a dozen students every other day and administrators finally caught wind of it from an informant.

She had no financial expertise--in fact, Veronica Klinefelt was a stay-at-home mom with a high school diploma when she won her bid for a seat on the East Detroit School Board in January 1998. But it was enough background to uncover a $3 million construction fraud scheme in her district that sent two board members and two superintendents to jail.

Like the crest of a wave that's been building slowly as it rolls toward shore, the high school reform movement broke in 2005. For years, elementary school education has been front and center for policymakers and advocates. But with a high-profile governors summit on high school reform last February, a mention in President Bush's State of the Union Address and new initiatives popping up from the federal level to school districts, high schools' time in the spotlight has arrived.

"Se puede."

Curriculum director Jerry Foucher says nobody paid much attention to the development of course content for social studies and civics classes in his district. Until last school year. Then there was uproar.

The controversy started in March, about the time of the outbreak of war in Iraq. The district, Farmington (Mich.) Public Schools, was introducing changed graduation requirements, including a new international affairs class geared toward making students better global citizens.

After hearing about the class, some parents were unhappy. And they complained. Bitterly.

The mission of a school is to facilitate learning. Learning depends on teachers, buildings, curriculum, materials, and, increasingly, security.

Thanks to growing reliance on technology and increasing sophistication on the part of digital miscreants, security issues are uppermost in the minds of many districts. To fend off the worms, viruses and hack attempts that happen every day, many IT managers and superintendents have implemented firewall-based security systems that give them at least some shelter from the storm.