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Please watch American Promise on PBS

favicon Last week I went to see a screening of American Promise, a new documentary premiering next Monday, Feb. 3, on PBS. It was excellent. I highly recommend it.

The film follows two African American boys, Idriss and Seun, and their experiences attending The Dalton School, an elite independent school in New York City. Filmmakers Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, parents of one of the boys, explore the American Dream, the achievement gap, and issues of race and class.

Here is the trailer:

Though Idriss and Seun come from middle-class backgrounds, in some ways, American Promise reminds me a little of Hoop DreamsWe get to see the boys grow up.

The film reminded me of the immense responsibility teachers and schools have — not just to educate our youth, but also to produce fair and equitable outcomes. It got me to want to teach again.

Update: You can watch a large part of the film (1:40) until March 6.

Please watch the film and then leave a comment with your thoughts! favicon


  1. Dave Keller

    Ditto to the recommendation – I saw the film a while back and really enjoyed it. The group of African America boys that I saw it with also had an interesting reaction: “It’s like that movie was about me.”

    As an educator (who teaches in a school similar the ones seen in the film) the film showed a realistic picture of some schools in this country. Seeing it was a nice chance to look in the mirror. As a parent I found the film had as much to do about equitable outcomes as it did the role of parents in the education process.

    I’d love to read other people’s comments…

  2. Mark Isero

    Laura and Dave, thanks for starting off this conversation. I agree, Dave, that the film is also about the role of parents. It’s amazing how influential school + home together can be.

    The film definitely makes me want to be a teacher again — to try to “get things right” this time. Maybe that’s just some romantic idea on my part, and maybe it’s just wishful thinking. But it’s still there, and it’s still real.

    Hope others find this comment thread. One of the negatives of this new theme is that it’s a little harder to find the comments!

Please share your brilliant insights!