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Opinion: Is college not for poor kids?

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A few weeks ago, my colleague Paul Schwartzman introduced readers to a group of Prince George’s County residents known as “the Seat Pleasant 59.” They were promised in 1988, when they were in elementary school, that their tuition would be paid if they worked hard and got into college, says Jay Mathews, columnist for the Washington Post. More than two decades later, only 11 have four-year degrees, a consequence of many bad turns, most of them related to growing up in poverty. Some readers may conclude that most of these children were doomed from the start. Many lacked the parental support, teacher encouragement and personal resilience needed to take advantage of the offer from philanthropists Abe Pollin and Melvin Cohen. Is a tuition promise wasted on such children? That conclusion appalls educators in the region and across the country who have dedicated their lives to preparing disadvantaged students for college and helping them graduate…

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