On-Air Highlights

A Spotlight on Education

Written by Fred Vigeant, Director of Programming and Promotions for TV and Radio | Aug 25, 2016 9:54 AM
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Join WITF, PBS, and American Public Media for a special week of programming examining the challenges facing today's students and America's education system. Documentaries and films will be spread across the week beginning on Sunday September 11 and continuing through Sunday September 18. 

On WITF 89-5 and 93-3:

Monday, September 12 at 1:00pm - Beyond the Blackboard: Building Character in Public Schools - In the 1940s a British headmaster named Kurt Hahn set up a wilderness school called Outward Bound to teach young men the skills they needed to survive World War II - skills like leadership, persistence, and working together. Hahn believed these were skills conventional schools should focus on too. Fifty years later, Hahn's ideas about education inspired the founding of a network of public schools in the United States. Students in these schools outperform their peers when it comes to test scores and graduation rates - and also motivation, academic engagement and problem-solving ability. This documentary explores the "Expeditionary Learning" approach, traces the history of ideas that led to its inception, and investigates what American schools could learn from its success.

Tuesday, September 13 at 1:00pm - Stuck at Square One: The Remedial Education Trap - When students go to college, they expect to be in college classes. But in fact, 4 in 10 students end up in basic math and English, re-learning 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.

Wednesday, September 14 at 1:00pm - 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.

Thursday, September 15 at 1:00pm - 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.

Friday, September 16 at 1:00pm - Rewriting the Sentence: College Behind Bars - 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.


A majority of these programs will be avialable on-demand after initial broadcast.

All week at 6:00pm:

PBS NEWSHOUR will broadcast original stories focused on the state of education. The annual "Rethinking College" series takes a critical look at how higher education is evolving to provide a better post-secondary learning experience, especially for people in underserved communities with underrepresented populations. The segments range from a closer look at the low college graduation rates among Latino males on campus and possible solutions, to second-chance Pell grants for prisoners and how coding boot camps are challenging the traditional college degree model.

Sunday, September 11:

2:30pm - THE ADDRESS - This 90-minute documentary by Ken Burns tells the story of a tiny school in Putney, Vermont, the Greenwood School, where each year the students are encouraged to practice, memorize and recite the Gettysburg Address. In its exploration of the Greenwood School, the film also unlocks the history, context and importance of President Lincoln's most powerful address.

4:00pm - Go Public: A Day in the Life of an American School District - On May 8, 2012, 50 directors and their small camera crews followed 50 individuals who attend, support and work in the Pasadena Unified School District, a racially and economically diverse district with 28 public school campuses. Administrators, teachers, students, support staff and volunteers lead us on journeys that reveal their unique contributions in making a public school district function. No voice-over narratives or expert commentaries, just an authentic window into the world of public education. GO PUBLIC is an important film because there is a national crisis of confidence surrounding public education. This film gives audiences a chance to see and hear the people actually living the public school experience.

Monday, September 12:

10:00pm - POV "All The Difference"  - Trace the paths of two teens from the South Side of Chicago who dream of graduating from college. Statistics predict that Robert and Krishaun will drop out of high school, but they have other plans. The intimate film follows the young men through five years of hard work, sacrifice, setbacks and uncertainty. As they discover, support from family, teachers and mentors makes all the difference in defying the odds.

Tuesday, September 13:

9:00pm - FRONTLINE - "A Subprime Education," a fresh look at the troubled for-profit college industry, examines reports of predatory behavior and fraud and the implosion of the education chain, Corinthian Colleges; and "The Education of Omarina" shows how an innovative program to stem the high school dropout crisis has affected one girl's journey, from a public middle school in the Bronx to an elite New England private school, and now on to college.

10:00pm - TED TALKS "Education Revolution" - Explore innovative approaches to education with hosts Baratunde Thurston and Sara Ramirez. Speakers, including Anna Deavere Smith and Sal Khan, discuss the school-to-prison pipeline, the impact of micromanaging kids and transforming struggling students into scholars.

Wednesday, September 14:

9:00pm - NOVA "School of the Future"  - In a new age of information, rapid innovation and globalization, how can we prepare our children to compete? Discover how the new science of learning can help us reimagine the future of education for all children.

Thursday, September 15:

8:00pm - CRAFT IN AMERICA "Teachers"  - Follow artists committed to passing on their skills and passion for craft to new generations. Featured are Barbara Teller Ornelas, Lynda Teller Pete, Therman Statom, Mark Mitsuda at Punahou School and Linda Sikora at Alfred University.

Friday September 16:

9:00pm - CLASS OF '27: AMERICA REFRAMED - A thought-provoking documentary about how families, educators and leaders in diverse rural communities are working to get their youngest children on track toward graduating from high school in 2027. Presented in partnership with the WORLD Channel.    

10:00pm - NAVAJO MATH CIRCLES - It's a meeting of two worlds, where some of the country's most accomplished mathematicians and math educators work with children and teachers in the underserved, largely rural Navajo educational system.

Saturday, September 17:

2:00pm - AMERICAN GRADUATE DAY - Many PBS stations will extend SPOTLIGHT EDUCATION by airing the fifth annual American Graduate Day live from Tisch WNET Studios at Lincoln Center in New York City. American Graduate Day is a live, four-hour multiplatform broadcast, presented by WNET, that leverages the power and reach of public media to focus on those organizations and individual champions keeping kids on the path to graduation.  More information about American Graduate Day...

Sunday, September 18:

4:00pm - TIME FOR SCHOOL - This documentary introduces viewers to five children from five different countries, all struggling to get what all Americans take for granted: a basic education. Combining current-day footage, at the time of their hoped-for high school graduation, with a wealth of material shot over more than a decade, starting in 2003 when they were just entering their first year of school, the film reveals who has made it through, despite daunting obstacles.

Published in Radio, TV

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