180Days

TONIGHT: PBS Digs into Poverty & Education Challenges in New Documentary ‘180 Days: Hartsville’

The inspiring new documentary, “180 Days: Hartsville,” takes a fresh look at the nation’s poverty and education challenges in a rural South Carolina town. The two-hour special, co-produced by South Carolina ETV (SCETV) and National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC), airs tonight, on PBS, from 8 to 10 p.m. ET (check local listings). The film was funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) as part of “American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen,” a public media initiative to stem the dropout crisis by supporting community-based solutions.

 

Co-directors Jacquie Jones and Garland McLaurin, the team behind the Peabody Award-winning documentary “180 Days: A Year Inside an American High School,” which premiered in 2013, joined SCETV in Hartsville, South Carolina for more than a year. They filmed in 2 elementary schools struggling with new curriculum standards and maintaining funding, while meeting the needs of individual students. South Carolina ranks 45th in the country in education. The majority of Hartsville residents hover on the poverty line with a median income of less than $30,000 and more than half of the city’s students qualify for free and reduced-price school lunches.

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‘180 Days: A Year Inside An American High School” Wins Coveted Peabody Award

The National Black Programming Consortium documentary series 180 Days: A Year Inside an American High School is the proud winner of a 2013 Peabody Award.

The documentary which aired last year on PBS and was directed by Jacquie Jones, turns the harsh glare of the spotlight on the nation’s educational crisis.

The cameras follow the day-to-day stories of students, parents, teachers, and staff at the Washington Metropolitan High School also known as the DC Met, providing a unique window into a public school and system trying desperately to make a difference in the lives of each student.

Jacquie Jones tells Black Enterprise, “The Peabody was a tremendous validation. We really wanted to give people a first-hand look at what happens in these schools. There is so much rhetoric about test scores and teacher accountability, common core and poverty but if you’re not in the school you don’t really have a sense of how all these things come together in the lives of these kids. So what we wanted to show was an intimate portrayal of what it’s really like to walk a mile in their shoes.”

Led by a dynamic and outspoken young principal, the series is a raw, unprecedented first-hand account of life inside the school reform movement.

Jones talks about working alongside the principal. She tells BE, “We just started hanging out with her there and getting a sense of what the challenges were. She was so open and so dynamic and interested in being a part of this project that showcased these many challenges and it all sort of just came together.”

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‘180 Days’ and ‘American Promise’: Two films that show racial, financial and disparities in America’s school systems

At DC Met, as the District public high school is lovingly called by the adults and young people featured in 180 Days, school principal Tanisha Williams Minor races and even rhymes to prepare her students to take the DC Comprehensive Assessment System tests (DC CAS). A bright and beautiful young woman willing to bop and rap to engage and motivate her students, Minor code-switches with ease, transitioning from standard English to colloquial expressions and expressing authentic closeness with her students - and the communities from which they come. The DC CAS scores in math and English are one in a series of about 15 metrics that Minor says the District of Columbia Public Schools system uses to rate schools and determine the professional destinies of the adults who staff them. If students fail, the principal and teachers fail, and school staff members may lose their jobs.

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