Exploring Issues in Education

Aug 5, 2016

Thursdays in September at 7:00 pm:
From APMReports, WVXU presents four weeks of documentaries that delve into issues facing the nation's educational system.

September 1 - Stuck at Square One: The Remedial Education Trap

When students go to college, they expect to be in college classes. But in fact, four in 10 students end up in basic math and English, relearning what they were supposed to learn in high school. The vast majority of them never get a college degree. What’s going on? Most people point to failures in the nation’s K–12 education system, but this documentary probes deeper, exploring how students are placed into these classes, what skills people really need to be successful in college, and how best to learn those skills.

September 8 - Spare the Rod: Reforming School Discipline

Kids who are suspended or expelled from school are more likely to drop out and more likely to wind up in prison than kids with similar behaviors who are not kicked out. Kids of color are more likely to be suspended or expelled than white kids are. Schools are struggling to reduce suspensions and to find other ways to make sure classrooms are calm and safe. We visit St. Paul, where parents and teachers complain that kids who should be disciplined are disrupting classrooms and causing chaos. And we visit Denver, where a grassroots group pushed the schools to stop suspending their kids and try using a restorative justice approach to discipline instead.

September 15 - What It Takes: Chasing Graduation at High-Poverty High Schools

There is virtually no way to make a legal living these days without at least a high school diploma. Still, nearly 20 percent of students don’t finish. Why? This documentary explores what students and teachers are up against in some of the nation’s poorest high schools. We document the progress that has been made at one former “dropout factory” and ask what it would take to help more kids succeed. And we visit one school that literally chases students down to get them to class so they can graduate.

September 22 - College Behind Bars: Keeping an Idea Alive 

For decades, the United States’ prison population has grown exponentially. And today, more than 2 million Americans are incarcerated. But most people who enter prison eventually come out, and every year about 700,000 prisoners return to society. About half of those released will be back behind bars within three years. One of the best, most cost-effective ways to reduce recidivism is to provide education to inmates. In this documentary, we explore the history of educational programs in prison; examine their effect on incarcerated individuals and on society; and ask why they are not more widespread. We follow a class of imprisoned students trying to make their way through their first semester, from orientation through final exams. And we visit a women’s facility where a group of inmates, led by a former prison guard-turned-professor, have been publishing a body of research that’s changing historians’ understanding of the history of prisons.