Education Against the Odds

Stories of teaching and learning in difficult circumstances. An ongoing collection.

Stories of teaching and learning in difficult circumstances. An ongoing collection.

My Alternate Route to Harvard

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Raised on the plains of North Carolina by parents who grew up in the segregated South, I wasn’t put on the “Harvard track” early. I got there anyway—thanks to one of the best-kept secrets in higher education.

Reversing the Tide

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College degree programs like the Bard Prison Initiative give jailed students a chance to thrive once they’re released—and drive down the costs of incarceration for us all.

I’m Not That Guy Anymore

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I hated school—until I got slapped with a 15-year prison sentence and discovered calculus, Mandarin and the college degree I never knew I wanted.

The School Where Refugees Thrive

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At Fugees Academy, students who arrived in the U.S. as refugees—sometimes without parents or English skills—are graduating at a rate of 90 percent.

“The Best Worst Mistake You Ever Made”

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Before they became places to warehouse so-called problem kids, alternative learning centers were designed to help at-risk students succeed. Some are rediscovering that mission.