I was fortunate to watch the full version of American Promise over the December break. Everyone will have the chance to watch it in February on PBS. I am extraordinarily grateful to the parents and to the Dalton School for participating in this multi-year effort. I highly recommend the film.
A film that runs a 12 year course is one that cannot pretend to a single unifying vision. It is enough to evoke certain reflections, to raise particular issues about race and otherness. The filmmakers take care not to case blame or demonize any one person or group in particular for the disappointments that students and parents feel at various points. There are triumphs as well.
As an educator watching the documentary, I kept thinking about how best to foster quality communication between teachers, administrators, and parents. How can schools better support parent communities such as the African-American parent group that gathered in the middle of the film? When and how can schools send teachers and administrators to visit some of the communities and households that they serve? How do we all maximize transparency and open communication?
All parties seemed to strive for partnership in this film. Again, I am thankful that they shared their journeys with us.