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Prison Inmate Debate Team Defeats Harvard

(Photo: Peter Foley/Wall Street Journal)

Harvard's crack debate team was taken by surprise. Its members didn't expect that their opponents, inmates from the Eastern New York Correctional Facility, to offer much of a challenge. But the judges ruled that the prisoners, who are participating in a rigorous educational program offered by Bard College, had won. The topic was this resolution: "Public schools in the United States should have the ability to deny enrollment to undocumented students." The Wall Street Journal reports on the battle:

The audience burst into applause. That included about 75 of the prisoners’ fellow students at the Bard Prison Initiative, which offers a rigorous college experience to men at Eastern New York Correctional Facility, in the Catskills. […]

The Harvard team members said they were impressed by the prisoners’ preparation and unexpected line of argument. “They caught us off guard,” said Anais Carell, a 20-year-old junior from Chicago.

The prison team had its first debate in spring 2014, beating the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. Then, it won against a nationally ranked team from the University of Vermont, and in April lost a rematch against West Point.

-via reddit

That's terrific! As a former teacher in South Central Los Angeles and Compton, I know the kids are capable of doing great things. I had students who went to Berkeley, UCLA, UC Riverside, and many other great schools. Unfortunately, too many people give up on kids who haven't had much of a chance instead of doing their level best to help.
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