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The After-School Economy

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High school teacher Mary Bicouvaris walks into her Newport News, Va., classroom each morning and wonders where her students went. As she looks around at the many sleepy faces, some scribbling down last-minute homework answers, she instead sees what she calls, "little business people.'' She sees young girls dressed not in comfortable jeans and sneakers for the school day ahead, but in the dresses, heels and jewelry they must wear for their after-school jobs behind cosmetics counters and in clothing stores. She knows others have food-service uniforms tossed in their lockers for the burger grilling, table wiping and trash hauling they'll be doing as soon as the last afternoon bell rings.shrills And she knows many of them won't be giving her, or her lessons another thought until much later that night, when, the clock straining past midnight, they "try to squeeze an hour or two of education in before they fall asleep,'' she ruefully notes.

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