Almost everything is negotiable in Chinese schools, from admission to grades to teacher recommendations, so long as you know the right person or have enough cash, parents and teachers say. As a result, many believe, the education system is worsening rather than mending the vast gap between the elite in China and everyone else.
Sept. 13, 2013 Ma Qianyi, 12, second from left, dances during her three-hour lesson after a full school day in Beijing. Lacking the resources of wealthier, better-connected families, Ma and her mother, a strong-willed, self-made businesswoman named Yang Jie, decided to target seats reserved at most top schools for those with “speciality skills.” That’s why Qianyi took up dancing three years ago. Adam Dean/For The Washington Post Buy Photo