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Associated Press
In this Feb. 15, 2013 photograph, Clarksdale High School students delve into the complexities of chemistry equations, in Clarksdale, Miss. Community leaders hope improved education will help stanch a hemorrhaging population. The city's nine public schools may also be the crossroads of Mississippi's education system as state lawmakers are considering a new route, one characterized by charter schools, teacher merit pay, a tougher statewide curriculum, state-paid preschool classes and an intensive focus on reading for young students. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

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