(New York Times) — JASON McCORKLE, all of 11, stepped back into his family’s living room in the South Bronx wearing the gray slacks and crisp white shirt his new teachers had just handed him, tags still dangling from a sleeve. He puffed out his chest, stuffed his hands in his pockets and flashed his pearly teeth, standing near a poster of a beachfront mansion, a five-car garage and the words “Justification for Higher Education” lighted by rays of sunshine. “Is this the first time you’ve worn a tie?” one of the teachers, Stephen Slater, asked gingerly. The burgundy strip was flush against the skin on Jason’s neck, sitting under rather than over the new shirt. There was time to practice, Mr. Slater assured him — the first day of school was a month away — but after that, there would be no excuses. The slacks, the shirt, the tie he had struggled with and dress shoes — “no sneakers, no color other than black,” Mr. Slater warned — are required at the Urban Assembly School for Applied Math and Science, where Jason would soon be a sixth grader.
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