The Washington Post‘s Jay Mathews reports: A parent asked me recently what she should do if her child doesn’t appear headed for college. The student in question is just a fourth-grader, but this is the Washington area, probably our nation’s most college-conscious region. Parents here like to plan ahead. We don’t want to drag to college a student who isn’t interested. But there is a big difference between getting students ready for college and forcing them to go. In this area, schools are committed to prepare nearly every child for college these days, just as they are committed to teach nearly every child to read. High schools try to make it very difficult for students to graduate without taking the reading, writing, math, science and history courses that colleges require — and for a very good reason…

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staff and wire services reports