Education: Diamonds In The Rough

An unusual program propels young blacks toward college

Casually attired in khaki trousers and a gray polo shirt, math teacher Tony Dula scribbles an algebra problem on a sheet of clear plastic and, using an overhead projector, throws the image on the blackboard for his class of 10th- graders. "O.K.," he says, "you have two minutes." Heads bow and sneakered feet tap softly on the floor. Suddenly a student in the second row breaks the silence. "Oooooh! I found it!," she cries. "I feel good!" Another girl waves her hand wildly from the back of the room. "Mr. Dula! Mr. Dula! I did it!"

Solving algebra problems may not...