HBO Documentary Films: Hard Times At Douglass High (HBO)

June 24, 2008 0

I am fresh off the couch from watching this HBO documentary, and for those who dont know me the Publisher/CEO and creator of this blog, well I am a elementary/ special education major at Temple University in Phila, Pa. My dream is to become a math teacher in the inner city of Philadelphia where I was born. Eventually I would like to be a principal of my high school. The great Overbrook high that Will Smith, Wilt Chamberlain and Guion Buford attended.

But this documentary was shot in 2005 and it raises some of the keys issues with this No Child Left Behind policy. NCLB was created under the Bush administration, and basically its a plan that no child can be left behind. They will continue to get pushed through the system whether they learn or not. Its really that simple minus all the technical stuff.

Now this movie shows some of the everyday problems that Philadelphia school district faces. If a school doesn’t reach its Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) then the school may be subject to a takeover by the state (which they will reform the schools administration). Inorder to reach the AYP schools must pass state testing that we all as students took one day in another. As you may or may not know but for the schools that do poorly on these state exams, they continue to receive little to no additional funding the following school year as a result from their testing.

So how does a school improve when they state doesn’t help them?

I mean I think of it as a bum on the street, they weren’t born a bum on the street. They were once raised, educated and housed… a few bumps in the road and they had no one to turn to. And they are force to succeed in a society that only reimburse and recognize the good and successful. And you have this bum who is down and out but with a simple hand of help he could possibly turn his life around.

I mean the state knows what schools are failing and have limited amount of resources. Not giving them the additional funds and materials they may need to succeed like those schools who pass the test, doesn’t make things right. But as a wise man once told me about the worlds jacked up economy “you need poor people in order to have rich people”. So in this case I guess the school district never really expects to see every school in the state progress and reach state standards. Can you imagine a world with no dropouts and everyone went to college. But yet in still not everyone can goto college because the world needs janitors, bus drivers and so forth.


You cant expect a bum to live a decent or fair life if he has no job or income, no home, no access to a shower and clean clothes. So you cant expect a school to pass a state exam when they 15 books and 25 students in a class with a permanent substitute teacher (so books are shared and never taken home), over 60% of the teaching staff aren’t certified to teach (example from the movie), and so forth. Really can this system succeed truthfully. If your confused think of it in baseball terms. Can your expect a team who’s team salary is maybe $50 million, and you have a team like the Yankees and Red Sox spending over $100 million a year on their teams salaries? And we both know that the Red Sox and Yankees make the playoffs every year.

I mean this movie shows you some insights on the students and teachers perspectives so you see all angles from this inner city Baltimore school. Did I mention the school in the documentary had one of the state’s top basketball team? If I am not mistaken but the team basketball team won the state championship the year before they taped this documentary. Does on court success mean anything when only person in their entire school received over 1000 out of 1600 on the SAT’s?

As an education major you see movies like this almost all the time and you are very aware that this is very much going on today. This was just something I think you guys should watch if you have two hours to spare in front of your cable or satellite box one day.

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