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Nowhere is the inadequacy of American public
education more striking than in high-poverty, urban
schools populated by disadvantaged minority students.
Despite decades of legal, policy, and scholarly efforts
aimed at addressing the challenges facing these schools,
the academic prospects of poor students are currently as
grim as they have been in recent memory. Reformers
seeking to address this problem have largely focused on
transforming public education from within by focusing on
school conditions or teacher performance. These efforts
have largely failed to bring about real progress: despite
decades of litigation and reform, our nation's most
disadvantaged children continue to lack access to
meaningful educational opportunity.
This Article argues that prior reforms have enjoyed little
success because they have failed to address head-on what
we believe is the predominant factor in perpetuating
educational inequality: the numerous challenges
disadvantaged students must overcome in their home and
neighborhood environments. These well-documented
challenges include a lack of household resources,
suboptimal parenting practices, and the prevalence of
neighborhood crime, violence, and other risk factors, all of
which inhibit poor children's ability to succeed
Recognizing that the societal conditions that perpetuate
these encumbrances are unlikely to change in the
foreseeable future, this Article argues for the creation of
voluntary, public boarding schools as an option for
educating disadvantaged children from as early as
Kindergarten. As the SEED Foundation and others have
demonstrated, there is a significant demand for boarding

school education among members of poor communities
and considerable private- and public-sector support for
innovative education reform efforts. Recognizing that this
proposal nonetheless will likely be met with resistance,
this Article addresses a number of potential objections,
including the suggestion that it is motivated by a desire to
deprive underprivileged children of their cultural identity
and that it is not financially feasible.

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