“School Pride” Premiere Review
Posted by CJ Cregg on October 15, 2010
I’m calling it now. I’m totally gonna cry.
This week, we head to Enterprise Middle School in Compton, CA, which one student calls “a prison” in which he “doesn’t feel like learning.”
Our renovation team includes Susie Castillo, former Ms. USA, Jacob Soboroff, a critical journalist, Kim Whitley, comedian, and Tom Stroup, annoying voiceover man.
Two students take us on a tour of their school, which is lacking supplies like toilet paper, soap, and is covered in graffiti. The pavement for the basketball court is covered in cracks, and the field covered in gopher holes. The school is overrun with cockroaches and mice. It’s devastating to see, really. It also makes me feel so lucky to be a product of a public school with resources.
Yup, we’re 5 minutes in and I’m tearing up watching these kids become so joyous at the chance to fix their school.
Kim, the comedian, is a bit too loud and brash for me. Less screen time for her, please.
Tom enlists the the help of a local construction team who will work for free to help fix up the school. The team also enlists the help of community volunteers, which is great. I love the sense of ownership that the kids and teachers and community are taking in their school. The cheesy background music telling me I’m supposed to be inspired by the stories of the 8th graders who have never met their fathers and have to support their families is just that, cheesy. But these kids have big dreams, which are real, and I am feeling inspired.
We also get to meet Omar Spry, who is in charge of maintenance for the Compton Unified School District. The inbox folders and stacks of paper with maintenance requests are enormous. It makes me sad that they can only help one school, when clearly all the schools in Compton need serious fixing. Omar starts crying when he sees the new gym, and I totally lose it.
There’s also a question of accountability, though. How could the principal allow the school to deteriorate so much? What to make of a secret supply closet that is well stocked despite teachers’ complaints of no supplies? Surly principal caves to Tom pressing him to dole out more supplies, but I still don’t trust this guy.
Jacob gets a sit down with Ah-nold to figure out how public funding of education works. The Governator blames labor, special interests, lack of parent involvement, government. I’m unsatisfied.
The last day of the school renewal, NBC sends the kids to Universal Studios. I say, let’s spend this money and try to fix some of the other schools in Compton.
Ooooh, giant scissors! I’m a sucker for a huge office supply. Time to cut the ribbon and let the kids see their new school. Yup, totally crying now. They finally have bookshelves in the English room, and microscopes and computers in the science room. I’ll even leave aside my annoyances with product placement. (Microsoft above the door in huge letters, really? People magazine reading room? Is that what we want our kids reading? How about the Great Expectations reading room? Oh, Dickens is dead and can’t donate money? Right. OK, guess I won’t leave product placement aside. But at least this is for a good cause. Much less objectionable.)
The Governator then shows up on the new football field. He came to “pump you up” about the new school. Then he says, “Keep up the great work and I’ll be baaaaahk.” Heh.
Now, the school is in the kids’ and teachers’ hands. There’s a little slideshow at the end telling us evil principal has been fired, and that test scores at Enterprise have risen 115 points. I’m convinced. Pride matters.
How can you not feel inspired and love this show?
(I guess crying my eyes isn’t my idea of a Friday night.)
I really respect and admire what this show is trying to do, and I’m going to watch when I can!