Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|I Am a Promise The Children of Stanton Elementary School|
Director: Susan Raymond
Genres: Documentary, African American Cinema
Winner of the Academy Award® for Best Documentary and widely celebrated on the HBO hit series America Undercover, I AM A PROMISE has been applauded by The New York Times as a "strong documentary? unsparing yet tender." Dir... more »
Jeffery Mingo | Homewood, IL USA | 07/26/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This documentary looks at a public elementary school in a low-income neighborhood of Philadelphia. Either it was made in the late 1980s or momma is giving their sons high-top fades long after it went out of fashion. Please note that so many of the children in this documentary are adorable with their big eyes, small statures, and chubby cheeks.
This documentary effectively, though subtly, shows that low-income schools have to address barriers of which Middle American/suburban schools never have to dream. So much of the staff had to spend their time motivating learners when class-privileged students take their specialness as a given. So much time is addressed on behavioral problems that it sucks away time from learning. These children have to grow up quickly: they speak of drugs and racism firsthand at a time when privileged children are drawing pictures of dragons and begging for more toys than they need.
I now understand why principal applicants in my large city must take rigorous examinations before they are hired. The principal valiantly wore so many hats: parent figure, disciplinarian, group leader, economizer, etc. I must admit that I was shocked to see a class-privileged, Caucasian I woman care so much about poor, black kids. Seeing her cry near the end truly affected me. Still, she spoke about "inequity" and I wish that she would have stopped dancing around the issue of racism. Further, there may have been too much focus upon her and not enough focus on the teachers, some of whom seemed very interesting.
This book reminded me of the academic text "Troubled Boys, Promising Girls." Here, all the boys are shown as having problems, while one girl is shown as being parentless, but still gifted. Does this documentary intend to suggest that no girls are disobedient and no boys are talented? Furthermore, many males are shown and only this one female student is shown. This gender imbalance is troubling given that the elementary school is almost certainly equally gendered.
The student population here was far more monoracial than the faculty. If the faculty is half white and half black (purposely written in that order), then I don't understand why teachers and the principal didn't talk about having to work to present a united front or educate as a biracial staff.
There's a lot of off-key children's singing here; parents love that type of stuff, but it got the fastforward button from me. I think the all-male class with its black male teacher worked out well, but something tells me it may violated the 14th and 15th Amendments of the United States Constitution."