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Pioneering Spirit: How One School Helps Latino Students Tackle AP Tests

Ivan Rangel weaves among more than 30 desks in his small classroom as he lectures about Confucianism to his high-level Advanced Placement world history class. The ancient Chinese philosopher valued lifelong learning, says Mr. Rangel, and saw education as the only way to “transform the people.” It is self-cultivation that brings success. Nurture not nature.

The class silently stares as their teacher paces among them in his white Converse sneakers. They are absorbing information that will likely be on their AP test this spring. It is a scene common in highly rated high schools in prosperous areas all across the United States.

But this is not one of those prosperous places. To understand Rangel’s lecture, and the value of self-cultivation in education, these students need look no further than themselves.