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October 20, 2010

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Jihad Punk 77

depressing...

Leigh

I think it really depends on the tone of the show (which, of course, I haven't seen). It could be used as a springboard to bring awareness to a serious national issue. There's no call to a cause like public shaming on national television.

99

I might try to stomach an episode, but the ad campaign sets it up like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition: heavy on the feel-goods, light on the larger realities. But even that frame puts too much of the responsibility on the school or the community's individual members, as opposed to pointing out that if you want your tax burden to be low, your schools will suffer. Which is a depressing enough reality as is.

James Peters

Eh, I disagree. Having books is a good thing, regardless of how the books got there or why they were needed. Having heat is a good thing, regardless of who paid for the heat to get turned on.

Kids shouldn't have to take a stand by suffering through as terrible situation to call attention to the fact that it was allowed to happen in the first place. Obviously the fact that someone saw a need for this show is something to be riled up about. But I think it's too soon to make a judgment call about its relative worth.

Josh

More important that we should keep our crazy, giant, Cold War military.

Sunkist Miss

I agree that its sad, and that the state of public education funding etc makes me want to weep for our country, but I think you spread the blame a little to thick.

First of all, I totally applaud the local activists in Compton who cleaned up their own local school (the inspiration for the show). They knew that they couldn't expect the funding to show up from the government and they did something to improve their community. And while I do believe that government should be responsible for public schools, local empowerment and community investment in schools is also a wonderful thing.

Second, don't be so quick to blame or shame the officials in local school districts. ("Every single public official in any district where this show is filmed should be ashamed of themselves.") As I expect you are aware, due to the way public education is funded in most of this country, their hands are likely tied. If they are (like Compton), a poor inner city urban area where several generations have grown up around gang violence and property values are very low, even if well meaning they don't necessarily have the resources to fix it themselves. They should get help from state / federal government, because we shouldn't tie school income to local property tax base. But we do. So, for them to accept help from where they can get it seems totally reasonable. The problem is certainly systemic and so should the blame be. The local officials have to make tough decisions with few resources. Sometimes they are to blame for making bad decisions under bad circumstances, but not always. And certainly not without knowing the particulars.

The shameful part is that we need a show to be doing the fixing. But as for accepting the help, if such a thing were offered to a severely underfunded district, why not accept it? Even superficial clean up can be helpful, even though its not a cure. I've attended schools where that was the case.

I would question the underlying social value of this *as a show*, but that is directed at the producers, not at those who need the help.

99

Sunkist-

Fair points all around. I absolutely don't blame the schools for accepting the help. They need it. And I don't blame community activists for taking matters into their own hands and fixing a school that systemic bias and discrimination have let lapse into disrepair. They're doing what they have to. These schools need fixing, absolutely, even just a superficial "makeover." The question is who is responsible for making that happen? And the follow-up: how do we keep it from happening again?

My point is that, as a country, this should be a wake-up call to ask exactly those questions: Where is the public money to fix these things? Maybe we shouldn't tie school budgets to property taxes? Maybe we shouldn't cut school budgets? But presenting it as a reality show, with a built-in happy ending, undercuts the very real problems facing schools that aren't so telegenic or NBC-heart-warming and doesn't address the very real question of how much we, as a society, value education and the future of our children. I don't mean to go the full Mrs. Chalmers and wail, "Won't someone think about the children?" But...I mean, won't someone think about the children here? And setting the precedent that a corporation is the one to swoop in and solve their ills? That this is viewed as entertainment is just shocking to me. And that's directed at the producers, the networks and the people who watch it.

Sunkist Miss

Yes, I think these are all very important points. They perhaps did not come across as clearly in the original post, but are well taken.

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