Washington, D.C., not only is the nation’s capital, it’s also the centerpiece of a PBS special that looks at the state of public education.
“180 Days: A Year Inside an American High School,” airs 8 p.m. Monday on KACV-TV, and will offer a unique and intimate look at a year inside a public high school.
“180 Days” will examine the lives of students, parents, teachers and school administers in a high school in a district deemed one of the more troubled in the nation. Does it serve as a metaphor for the state of public education in the rest of the nation? We’ll have to watch and learn.
As with most major American cities, what happens in Washington matters to the rest of us. Amarillo is no different in one important current aspect of public education. One area of deep concern for school administrators here for years has been the lack of parental involvement in students’ education and extracurricular activities. Washington long has suffered from the same inattentiveness at home for students.
The D.C. school district hired Michelle Rhee as chancellor in 2007. Rhee marched into the city as a noted education reformer. She didn’t last very long at the D.C. school helm. Her time in charge of the district school system did bring attention to the problems associated with a community that suffers from a high crime rate, even among its children. But she left her job in 2010 after just three years. Much work remains to be done.
What are some of the problems at Washington Metropolitan High School and within the school district? Educators there say that fewer than half of the students are doing math and reading at grade level, which officials lament because of the $1.1 billion annual budget spent on public education. Student academic performance has been backsliding, according to D.C. educators.
“180 Days” provides an up-close look at the lives of those with a direct stake in the future of public education … and in their own futures as well.