||The year after his defeat, Mr. Ross turned his attention to education. Even then, it was clear that Detroit Public Schools was failing to do its job of educating kids.
So he founded a nonprofit institution called New Urban Learning, which began a charter school named University Preparatory School, aimed at African-American students in Detroit.
"We had a philosophy of changing the culture," Mr. Ross told me last week. "Changing the culture and changing expectations, where we say to these kids -- I say, 'We will not let you fail.'"
That approach was scoffed at by some critics. How were poor African-American kids from Detroit going to relate to a white guy from affluent Birmingham with a graduate degree from Princeton?
The answer: pretty darn well. University Prep turned out winners. Today, there are seven New Urban Learning charters in Detroit. They take all comers, not just the elite. Last year, Mr. Ross said University Prep students had a 95 percent graduation rate.