Fifteen education documentaries that need to be made

12. Home schooling

“Do a documentary about home schooling, and the later academic success [or lack thereof?] of many who are home schooled.” —Roger Burtner, Ph.D.

11. Cyber bullying

“Cyber bullying and its effects on students.” —Anna Campbell, school counselor, Broome High School, Spartanburg, S.C.

10. School choice, and the charter vs. public school debate

“I think I would choose ‘Charter vs. Public: You decide!’ I have worked in both settings and have mixed reviews.” —Lisa Lang

The documentary topic I would like to see explored is why the education we choose for our students to consume is so limited in choice and personalization, compared to everything we consume directly as adults? Try to imagine anything we consume as adults as limited in choice or with as few advancements over the past 20 years as education. It is also interesting that while most of what we consume directly as adults is delivered by competitive providers, most of us park our kids in a monopolistic enterprise to receive a service we know is critical to their future success. Amazon, Pandora, and iTunes use technology to adapt and recommend options, yet teachers and students have almost none of these tools to inform differentiated and personalized learning. Why not? There is no doubt that we love our kids and want the best for them, but what keeps us from breaking from the current install base and imagining something better than what we had?” —Jim Flanagan

“I’d like to see a documentary that examines the true effect school choice is having on our urban schools. As a parent, school choice sounds great, but in my own community (urban, blue-collar, and very ethnically diverse) I’ve seen too many white, middle-class parents choice their children outside the district—mostly based on xenophobia, or the fear that going to school with children from poorer, black, or Hispanic families will hold the development of their own children back. In losing these kids to other, more affluent neighboring districts, our own school system not only loses the funding these students would provide, but it also loses parents who are involved in their children’s education and who would advocate on their behalf—people who could be voices for positive change in the local school community. What effect does that have on the children who remain?” —Anonymous

9. Same-sex classrooms

“I would recommend [a documentary] on same-sex classrooms. Our school is currently involved in the first program sanctioned by the New Jersey Department of Education in a charter school. The program is in the second year. Research will be presented at the October National Association for Single Sex Public Education in Orlando. We have done quite a bit of research and professional development training for our staff with the Gurain Institute in Colorado, as well as the NASSPE with Leonard Sax.” —Karen Thomas, chief executive officer, Marion P. Thomas Charter School, Newark, N.J.

Would test scores be higher? Would class work be better? Would the classes’ [students] excel in higher thinking skills? Would this happen because of the difference of the whole class being the same gender? Would females or males do better because of the special placement?” —B.J. Shrewsbury

Meris Stansbury

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