Metaphors play a powerful role in arguments about education. It is common to say schools are broken,and that the school system is failing. Here I take the metaphor seriously and briefly review an historical episode where airplanes failed seemingly for no reason at the dawn of the jet age. The responses to these failures at first with public relations and eventually with science have lessons to teach about our complex system of schools. I review evidence, mainly in graphical form, that poverty is the primary threat to schools, as, a generation ago, cracks were the primary threat to airplanes.