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on July 25, 2005
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. Does this documentary intend to suggest that no girls are disobedient and no boys are talented? Furthermore, many males are shown and only this one female student is shown. This gender imbalance is troubling given that the elementary school is almost certainly equally gendered.

The student population here was far more monoracial than the faculty. If the faculty is half white and half black (purposely written in that order), then I don't understand why teachers and the principal didn't talk about having to work to present a united front or educate as a biracial staff.

There's a lot of off-key children's singing here; parents love that type of stuff, but it got the fastforward button from me. I think the all-male class with its black male teacher worked out well, but something tells me it may violated the 14th and 15th Amendments of the United States Constitution.
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on June 30, 2012
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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on November 18, 2012
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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on May 2, 2012
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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on December 21, 2012
Definitely learned a lot from this film about the negative impact of poverty on children's education and how their home lives affect their success in school.
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on March 17, 2015
I'm really engaging the students with discussions concerning this viewing. It's quite interesting and informative.
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on January 7, 2015
bought as a gift
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on January 25, 2006
1/25/06 I found the documentary very poignant..the fact that 13 years ago(documentary is 1993) a group of 4-10 year old African American children were demanding "pampering" from their principle..: they were suppose to over ride their classroom teachers to tattle when they "spit,kicked or punched each other" & that they were a melting pot of all types of abilities as well as problems. ..The Stanton Elementary School was fortunate to have parents who came to the school to demand their children "not play the untrue stereotype of "the stupid African American".When you see the documentary, it becomes bewildering as to why these kids' neighborhoods did not evolve for the better over the years.Perhaps the tranquilizers they were being given as an excuse when they "hyped", transits to "street drugs" when they involved themselves in the teen years "with the streets".
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