Urban Preppies

Kids are learning and living at an inner-city public school. Is boarding the answer to education's woes?

It's 8:30 P.M., and the seventh-and eighth-grade residents of Howard House, one of the dorms at the SEED School in Washington, are only half an hour from bedtime. A group of 10 boys crowd around their tall boarding instructor, Marcus Allen, pleading for permission to stay up later. "Mr. Allen, I need to finish my project on the computer," says a diminutive boy, showing Allen his homework. Another begs to watch a game on TV. Most just want to talk to Allen, who has become a father figure to the students. It's a scene common in boarding schools, but these youngsters--98%...

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