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I Am a Promise: The Children of Stanton Elementary School

4.2 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Filmmakers Alan and Susan Raymond document Philadelphia teachers facing challenges at an inner-city school. Oscar for best documentary feature.

Product Details

  • Directors: Susan Raymond
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: February 22, 2005
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000742G2O
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,935 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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This documentary looks at a public elementary school in a low-income neighborhood of Philadelphia. Either it was made in the late 1980s or momma is giving their sons high-top fades long after it went out of fashion. Please note that so many of the children in this documentary are adorable with their big eyes, small statures, and chubby cheeks.

This documentary effectively, though subtly, shows that low-income schools have to address barriers of which Middle American/suburban schools never have to dream. So much of the staff had to spend their time motivating learners when class-privileged students take their specialness as a given. So much time is addressed on behavioral problems that it sucks away time from learning. These children have to grow up quickly: they speak of drugs and racism firsthand at a time when privileged children are drawing pictures of dragons and begging for more toys than they need.

I now understand why principal applicants in my large city must take rigorous examinations before they are hired. The principal valiantly wore so many hats: parent figure, disciplinarian, group leader, economizer, etc. I must admit that I was shocked to see a class-privileged, Caucasian I woman care so much about poor, black kids. Seeing her cry near the end truly affected me. Still, she spoke about "inequity" and I wish that she would have stopped dancing around the issue of racism. Further, there may have been too much focus upon her and not enough focus on the teachers, some of whom seemed very interesting.

This book reminded me of the academic text "Troubled Boys, Promising Girls." Here, all the boys are shown as having problems, while one girl is shown as being parentless, but still gifted.
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Comment 9 of 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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I went to that school. I was in that DVD. I remember when they came to our school to film that movie all throughout 1989 and 1990. Deanna Burney, the principal, didn't care about students. She just wanted to paint herself to be a Mother Theresa of North Philly. To prove that fact, she quit right after they finished filming. She handed us out permission slips that year, saying that we would be on TV. Unfortunately, poverty will make many people agree to such humiliation. All the kids brought in their slips, completely signed. My mom refused to do so. I couldn't understand that in 1989, but in 2012, I can. My mother wanted me to be strong enough to overcome poverty by not allowing people to profit off of me. Deanna pranced around North Philly with the camera crew. Just like poor folks, everyone wanted to be in that documentary. Deanna Burney actually propelled her career off poor black folks. That documentary did no good for those kids. It's funny, because more than 20 years have passed, and half of those kids are dead, in jail, on drugs, or never applying themselves in life. Deanna should've done was show these kids the way to go by giving them examples of those who did. Fortunately, I had a mother who moved us away from 16th & Cumberland, pushing me to amount to something. Thankfully, I have no kids, no STDs, or any drug habits. I have earned a Master's Degree, working on my PhD, and have been all over the world. Deanna Burney didn't get me there.....That makes me a promise....
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This is a powerful documentary about the children in an inner-city elementary school. It profiles their struggles trying to get an education in a neighborhood filled with danger, violence, drugs and despair. It also highlights the efforts of the incredibly dedicated principal, who truly believes that her students can achieve if given a chance. These children face so many challenges, yet, like all children, they have enormous potential and promise. Sadly, though their principal knows this, the educational system does not seem capable of helping these students.....nor does society as a whole seem to care.
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I am of the age that I was in elementary at the exact same time this movie was being filmed. I remember the fashion and the hair styles. I am fortunate that I don't remember the poverty and drug needles. This movie will move you and may even make you sad. Why are we so cruel to our children? Don't forget to watch the commentary! It's even better than the movie in my opinion. They bring back the principal almost 20 years later and she tells us so much that didn't make it into the movie.
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