Huffington Post: New PBS Doc Examines How One School is Beating The Odds
Money is often considered at the root of issues impacting the nation's education challenges but for director, Garland McLaurin, more money alone won't solve the issue.
In the PBS documentary debuting March 17, 180 Days: Hartsville, McLaurin and co-director, Jacquie Jones capture the triumphant story of a rural South Carolina town that is railing against poverty to successfully educate its elementary school students.
The follow-up to the Peabody award winning documentary 180 Days: A Year Inside An American School, arrives at a time when America's wealth gap between the nation's top earners and those at the bottom of the economic ladder is increasingly evident within the national public school system. A 2014 Pew Research Center studyfound that the average net worth of upper-income families ($639,400) is nearly 70 times that of those at the lowest rung. To compound those numbers is a recentSouthern Education Foundation report noting that, for the first time in 50 years, most U.S. public school students are from the aforementioned low-income households.
In the midst of these doomsday scenario numbers that portend failure, Hartsville has achieved a 92 percent graduation rate. So exactly what are they doing right? For one thing they aren't just relying on increased funding to solve their issues.
"Money always can help but beyond money you really need a vision for where you want to take the school district," said McLaurin. "Hartsville is refreshing because the district had a plan that was put in place by a strong administration that cared about the kids more than the dollars."