The American education system is multifaceted, but unfortunately oversimplified statements of the problems in our schools and one-size-fits-all solutions often take the media spotlight. Rarely do we hear of success stories from public schools or see portraits of families, students and teachers facing difficult realities with tenacity and creativity. Those working for change need resources that illuminate the complex issues, articulate solutions, and involve others in their efforts to transform education. Reel Education is a resource that fills that need.
Reel Education is a collection of ten films that are engaging and inspiring educators, parents, youth, and policy makers to support an education system that serves all children. Highlighting themes that range from achievement gaps to the protection of funding for afterschool programs, these story-driven films are informing the national dialogue about how to advance learning in the classroom, in after-school programs and at home. With our core partners, including PICO CA and Communities for Public Education Reform, we are hosting a series of Reel Education screenings and events in targeted states that will engage parents, students and educators, as well as policy makers and education leaders.
We also invite individuals and organizations to screen one or more of these Reel Education films in your community. While each story told has the power to influence a small corner of the education reform conversation, pooled together and positioned into the work of organizations and other leaders who share their vision, their impact will be amplified.
See info below about how to host or attend a screening of these films. You can also go to ScreeningHQ to view upcoming screenings.
For more information on the residency and convening that jump-started Reel Education check out the video above or click here. For more information about Reel Education contact: Anna lee email@example.com.
American Promise follows two African-American boys from middle class families as they navigate their way through a prestigious New York City prep school. This documentary tracks each boy's 12-year journey from kindergarten to high school graduation as both families are determined to put their sons on a path to success. It paints an intimate portrait of the distinct and troubling growing pains young men of color experience, while shedding light on the universal struggle families and schools confront when addressing issues of identity and opportunity. The film sparks a critical conversation about the complex factors that influence academic development and the unspoken social and emotional needs all children have, regardless of where they start out.
Broadcasting nationwide on American Documentary's POV in September 2013 or request a community screening.
Brooklyn Castle tells the stories of five members
of the chess team at a below-the-poverty-line inner city junior high school
that has won more national championships than any other in the country. The
film follows the challenges these kids face in their personal lives as well as
on the chessboard, and is as much about the sting of their losses as it is
about the anticipation of their victories. Ironically, the biggest obstacle
thrust upon them arises not from other competitors but from recessionary budget
cuts to all the extracurricular activities at their school. Brooklyn Castle
shows how these kids’ dedication to chess magnifies their belief in what is
possible for their lives. After all, if they can master the world’s most
difficult game, what can’t they do?
Across the United States, graduation rates in most urban districts still remain between 50 and 60 percent. A Community Concern is a documentary about people who refuse to accept the system’s failures, and are working for change. Their spirit, passion and commitment shows that when organizers, parents, youth and educators work together, they are successful. It brings together stories of people facing different challenges, but share similar goals.
Mariachi High captures a year in the life of competitive high school mariachi musicians in the top-ranked ensemble Mariachi Halcon in Zapata, Texas – a flash point for the complex issues facing the fastest-growing ethnic group in the US. As President Obama sounds a call to find and fight the causes of Latino drop out rates, the highest in the country, Mariachi High turns a positive lens on the dreams and dramas of Mexican American teenage-hood. In this soulful coming-of-age story, college-bound Latino role models compete to be the state’s champion band while experiencing the trials and triumphs shared by all American teens. From the nerve-racking auditions at the beginning of the year to the thrill of the 2010 Mariachi Vargas Extravaganza in San Antonio, Mariachi High provides much-needed affirmative screen time for teens that are stereotypically expected to fail.Catch the film on PBS in October or Buy the home use DVD.
Three Roma children in a small Transylvanian town are among the pioneer participants in an initiative to integrate the ethnically segregated Romanian schools. When their school begins to desegregate, Alin, Benjamin, and Dana set out for the city school, optimistic for education and new friendships, even as funds earmarked for integration are questionably used to renovate the old Roma-only school in their village. Shot over four years, the filmmakers' tender portrait of rural village life and its rhythms fosters an intimacy in the children's profound reality and admiration for their indomitable spirit, punctuated by shocking instances of prejudice and ignorance. The story touches on issues ranging from institutionalized racism, public education, and the intractability of poverty, culminating in an outrageous finale that cements the Roma children's struggle in the annals of egregious human rights violations. Our School is an absorbing, infuriating, and ultimately bittersweet story of tradition and progress.
Shakespeare High is a feature-length documentary that tells the story of a group of teenagers in Southern California who find a place to belong within their high-school drama program and are determined to succeed in the 90th Annual DTASC (Drama Teachers Association of Southern California) Shakespeare Competition. Theater has become their inspiration; a reason to strive and overcome adversity. The film features their stories of how the arts enriches their lives amidst personal troubles, including poverty, violence, gangs, drugs, absentee parents, as well as the troubles and hardships of adolescence. Their touching stories of change and determination are interspersed with commentary from well-known actors including Kevin Spacey, Val Kilmer, and Richard Dreyfus, all of whom are alumni of the life-changing DTASC program.
In Speaking in Tongues, four public school kids become bilingual, posing a provocative question with the potential to transform our country: In the 21st century, is knowing English enough? In this closely observed, verité style documentary, we follow the students and their families as they encounter the challenges and delights of becoming fluent in two languages. As we witness their journey, we see how speaking more than one language changes them, their families, their communities, and maybe even the world. At a time when 30 states have passed “English Only” initiatives, Speaking in Tongues explores the compelling notion that speaking a foreign language can be a national asset.
What does it take for a team of idealistic educators who create a small inner city public high school, to succeed inside our historically flawed education system? Over 4 years, with intimate access in and out of the classroom, the film explores all sides of the story: from a struggling teacher, to a parent who won't back down, to 3 students with their own unique issues. They confront issues of race, class, and economic inequality, and learn that their successes, small and large, can only happen through perseverance, resilience and, above all, strong relationships. Verite footage combined with community-shot material provides an emotional and holistic look inside one urban public school, but the story delivers invaluable insight into the complexities faced by urban public schools everywhere.
Can language transform lives? In To Be Heard three Bronx teens search for their voices. Karina, Pearl, and Anthony are precariously balanced on the edge. Inspired by three teachers in a radical poetry workshop, can they write their own life stories, imagining a future where fathers aren't in jail, mothers aren't abusive and college is a place you awaken to every morning rather than dream about each night. Their lives are closely tracked by a dedicated filmmaking team, who celebrates the value of great teachers, poetry, and the power that comes from writing your own life story.
Inspired by the documentary, Power Poetry is the world’s first mobile poetry community for youth. Employing the latest hand-held technology, it enables young poets to use text, audio, images, and video to express themselves and connect their voices with urgent social movements.
When Kelsey Carroll entered high school, she was a more likely candidate for the juvenile justice system than graduation. Diagnosed with ADHD and carrying the emotional scars of homelessness, sexual abuse and substance abuse, as well as the actual scars of repeated self-mutilation, Kelsey didn’t earn a single academic credit her freshman year, but she did get suspended for dealing drugs. During Kelsey’s sophomore year, a new school principal implemented dramatic reforms – including Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) and youth-directed planning – to improve the school’s culture and reduce the dropout rate. This school-wide overhaul gave Kelsey a chance at a different outcome. Who Cares About Kelsey? will make viewers reconsider the “problem kids” in their own high schools and spark new conversations about an education revolution that’s about empowering, not overpowering, our most emotionally and behaviorally challenged youth. The DVD and website will also feature additional ‘mini-films’ on young people with emotional and behavioral challenges at other sites, representing various age groups, disabilities and ethnically diverse communities.