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Klein, the 8-year-old drug dealer, has had a very different life. After serving time for selling drugs, he turned his life around.
"I am definitely living the American dream. But my dream is a reality," he said.
Klein and his wife started a computer repair shop in one of Baltimore’s trendiest neighborhoods.
"I've always had an interest in computers," he said. "So I started teachin' myself how to build computers, fix computers."
The couple are now raising their children in the suburbs where they own four-wheelers, an RV, season tickets to the New York Jets and a collection of TVs that look like the showroom floor of an electronics store.
"I shouldn't be here," he said laughing, while sitting in his living room. "I mean, I've been in so many situations growing up. I've been standing on the corner and people have walked up and blown the guy next to me's brains out. So, every day is lucky for me.”
In the research group, Klein is a rare exception. Only one in 10 children raised in poverty see this kind of financial success.
“Your prospects for moving up in the United states, in relationship to where you started in life in terms of your family circumstances, is much more limited here in the United States than in most of the other industrialized countries throughout the world,” said Alexander.
He said his research shows that children who receive early childhood education and attend year-round school have better odds. But breaking out of poverty involves some forces beyond government control.
"We can't mess with families except in very roundabout ways, through things like reforming the tax codes and things like that. But we can fix schools, at least try to fix schools," he said. "So it's a big, difficult set of issues here that aren’t gonna be resolved quickly or easily."
Like millions of Americans in recent years, Scott Alan went from middle class to struggling
Some 50 million Americans live below the official poverty line, and millions more are barely making ends meet. This series explores how people try to survive.