Glasgow is between a rock and a hard place: it has by far the greatest deprivation challenges of any authority in Scotland, but can no longer get away with a "deficit" approach. There is an implicit recognition in its education commission report, published today, that for too long excuses have been made for poor performance.
The council's leader, Steven Purcell, will lobby the Executive for a better funding allocation for education. If his bid fails, he acknowledges it will take longer to achieve the report's targets. Not all are dependent on extra funding, of course, but many are.
It is an ambitious report, containing much that is sound common sense. Who can argue with an emphasis upon literacy and numeracy to raise standards, particularly of those left behind in the past? Perhaps the more relevant question is: why has this not happened before?
But, as Ronnie O'Connor, who chaired the commission and is about to retire as director of education, points out, there is no magic formula that will improve pupil achievement. The issue is whether, with or without extra funding, the commission's recommendations can be delivered.
There can be no doubt that targeting leadership - in the classroom as well as at the top of the school - and the quality of teaching is the right approach. But plans to introduce business-style appraisals of headteachers will undoubtedly send shockwaves radiating out from John Wheatley House.
Margaret Doran, new director of education and social work, has a formidable task ahead of her, not only on the schools front, but in integrating education services with social work and health care. In turn, Councillor Purcell knows that his administration will be judged on the success or failure of its education plans. The stakes are high.