Tutors try to fill affirmative action holes

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With its minority enrollments at record lows, the University of Washington is spearheading a massive tutoring program for sixth- through 10th-graders at public schools in Yakima Valley, reports the SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER. Funded by a $9.7 million federal grant, the program called GEAR-UP aims to improve the education of kids in the lowest-performing school districts in the region — and eventually boost UW’s minority admissions, too.

Two years after Initiative 200 ended affirmative action in college admissions, UW’s Hispanic, African American and Native American enrollments are at rock bottom. Meanwhile, most of the students at the targeted schools in Yakima Valley are poor; most are failing state reading and math tests; and, most are Hispanic — the most underrepresented group at UW. With GEAR-UP, the university hopes to groom a pool of qualified minority applicants for the future. Many teachers and parents, however, call the approach patronizing.

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