Education: Teaching the Three Rs for Profit

Learning centers thrive by selling personal tutoring services

An ad in a New Jersey newspaper asks, IS YOUR CHILD CAUGHT IN A FAILURE CHAIN? Another in California urges, GIVE YOUR KIDS AN UNFAIR ADVANTAGE. Both pitches are aimed at the same customers: parents with the cash and the desire to bring a lagging schoolchild up to speed or to put a bright youngster ahead of his classmates. In the past few years such appeals have been pulling thousands of pupils (including a smattering of adults) into private, for- profit learning chains, which are spreading across the country.

The Reading Game first plunged into multi-outlet tutoring in 1970, beginning with...

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