PBS and the Denver Post Do Race, Class, and Closing Achievement Gaps

School reform efforts in places like San Diego and other cities get an updated look from Hedrick Smith in this week's thought-provoking documentary Making Schools Work (PBS).

You might think you know all this already, but you probably don't. And it's not too late to watch big chunks of the show -- on the Internet. Really -- it works.

Sure, it’s highly-polished and balanced to within an inch of anyone’s ability to watch it, and sure it includes some obvious choices like the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and NYC’s now-defunct District 2. (The film also profiles schools using SFA, Comer, KIPP, and HSTW.)

But it isn’t just a feel-good exercise, and it isn’t just a school here or a school there. Writes Smith about the project: “I was interested in finding school models or school districts that were being carried out at scale, affecting tens of thousands of students and hundreds of schools.”

Some of the coverage the show has generated includes the Louisville Courier Journal (about Corbin High School),
Documentary hails CMS successes (about CMS), and you can see clips here and a trailer here. One of my favorite parts of the website is called "Yes, we want reform, but..."

On a related note, there’s a great series in the Denver Post this week about achievement gaps and poverty. The gist, far as I’ve read so far? It doesn’t have to be this way. Schools that erase gap say key is to never settle, Poverty doesn't rule test scores, and more.

In the meantime, recent articles about economic integration in Wake County NC have continued to generate a variety of responses. Those in favor: Economic integration next step for schools (Philadelphia Enquirer). Those not so sure: Economic integration push-back (The Gadfly).

Last but not least, the National Center on the Study of Privatization in Education asks the question Does Sschool Choice Lead to Greater Segregation? (via Jimmy K).


Anonymous howie shaffer said...

I am agnostic about whether the show has real value beyond the education blob. I don't agree that it is much more than "a feel-good exercise."

I thought the sequence of the young lady from KIPP Houston getting into Deerfield Academy was a bit weird. While I am excited for her to have an educational opportunity that 99.9% of kids don't get, I don't agree that a measure of the success of public schools is that they prepare kids to go to private schools. That is escapism, not deep systemic reform.

Much of the documentary held up exceptionalism to be admired, without a larger discussion of the true effort it would require to make schools work.

The film made it seem like schools would just work if they changed their attitude and programs, when we know that many schools will need new facilities, new teachers, new training, new community compacts, and new money.

What was most impressive to me about the documentary was the clear emphasis on how selfish and defensive adult behavior, ego, and professional best interest is one of the largest factors impeding the delivery of educational quality.

10:38 AM  

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