Op-ed columnist: Hope in the unseen

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman writes of a scene he witnessed last weekend "that is at once so uplifting and so cruel it’s difficult to even convey in words." The event was a lottery to choose the first 80 students who will attend a new public boarding school, the SEED School of Maryland, based in Baltimore. The foundation opened its first school 10 years ago in Washington, D.C., as the nation’s first college-preparatory, public, urban boarding school, and Baltimore is its second campus. The vast majority of students are African-American, drawn from the most disadvantaged school districts. In Washington, nearly all SEED graduates have gone on to four-year colleges. Because its schools are financed by both private and public funds, SEED can offer this once-in-a-lifetime, prep-school education for free–but it has to be open to anyone who applies. The problem is that too many people apply, so it has to choose them by public lottery–and SEED Maryland got more than 300 applications for 80 places. "There’s something wrong when so much of an American child’s future is riding on the bounce of a ping-pong ball," Friedman writes…

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