Monday, January 8, 2018

Must Listen for Every Inner City Teacher: The Burdens Affecting Even Our Brightest Students - This American Life

550: Three Miles - This American Life, NPR
JAN 5, 2018
There’s a program that brings together kids from two schools. One school is public and in the country’s poorest congressional district. The other is private and costs $43,000/year. They are three miles apart. The hope is that kids connect, but some of the public school kids just can’t get over the divide. We hear what happens when you get to see the other side and it looks a lot better.
Listen to it at:
Norm's Commentary:
Every teacher in inner city schools has had some kids over the years who seemed very special -- super smart with enormous potential. Find out what happens to three of these students. It is like a rocket trying to escape the earth but getting pulled back by the gravity of poverty and low self-esteem. Even when they beat the odds and make it to college, their battles often just begin. I had some like this and I was in touch for a number of years, even attending some of their weddings.

This American Life on NPR had a must listen to program for not only every teacher but for everyone. The gist was that students from a poor Bronx public school, all kids of color, were paired with Fieldston, an elite private school in the Bronx. The program focuses on some of the culture shock for the poor students based on the conditions they saw in their school and what they saw at Fieldston, just 3 miles away. The reporter, Chana Joffe-Walt, did an amazing job, interviewing teachers from both schools and trying to track one of the students 10 years after they left school.

See what the impact of poverty and low self-esteem have on even the sharpest kids --- but beyond that, this production, as so many of TAL programs are -- is presented like a mystery and will have you handing on the edge of your seat. [Note- one of the principals in the program has set up a college go-fund-me campaign as per this note from the show's producers

Here are program notes from the website:
  • Ira Glass introduces producer Chana Joffe-Walt, who reports this week's story. (1 minute) 
  • Chana Joffe-Walt tells what happened when of a group of public school students in the Bronx went to visit an elite private school three miles away. (24 minutes)education  neighbors/neighborhoods
  • The kids who traveled three miles up the road are in their mid-20s now. We hear how what they saw affected them for years, including at college. Chana reports. (21 minutes)college  education

    Many listeners have asked how to donate to Melanie from Act One, to support her taking college courses. She's set up a PayPal account here. Note: This American Life is not managing this account or monitoring her spending. It goes directly to her. You're giving it as a gift.


  1. "The hope is that kids connect" ? Connect with what? The rich. 99.99% of us will never do that.
    Better maybe to emphasize some home truths. 75% of Americans make the middle class with these 3 basics.a) Graduate high school.
    b) Two parents in the home. c) At least one parent working full time,

  2. Low self esteem is a reality for poor kids.

  3. If you advocate for the stability of the traditional marriage within which to raise children
    you are called a reactionary, or worse.

    1. But what you really are doing by advocating is condemning the alternatives. Who makes the rules that traditional marriage is required for all? What next. That interracial marriage is abnormal? Certainly not traditional yet 17% of marriages today up from 4% 25 years ago. When it hits 50 bingo. Traditional. Tradition is the biggest enemy of progress.

  4. 50% of black kids in one parent families (non traditional) live in poverty . That's progress all right.

  5. Tradition as antithetical to progress? What an absurd notion. I wonder if sir Issac Newton would agree!

  6. Race was not mentioned Norm. Be careful of your Oceana speak.

  7. In America today you can openly hate white people and not be deemed a racist

  8. Bibi is currently deporting 42k sub saharan Africans from Israel. Each one receives 3k Euro to go, or will be put in jail.
    These refugees have been called "infiltraitors", not refugees, by the Knesset. Bibi's attitude is that,
    such an influx, "threatens the Jewish character of Israel." Sounds like 1930s Germany.
    Why no outrage in the media, ala Le pen, or Farage, Why?


Comments are welcome. Irrelevant and abusive comments will be deleted, as will all commercial links. Comment moderation is on, so if your comment does not appear it is because I have not been at my computer (I do not do cell phone moderating). Or because your comment is irrelevant or idiotic.