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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

A not-so-integrated high school

America to Me, now on Starz, explores a suburban Chicago high school where black and white students “find themselves on different tracks, in different classes, with different outcomes,” writes James Poniewozik in the New York Times.

We meet Charles Donalson, a wry junior with a gift for spoken-word lyrics; Jada Buford, an outspoken senior and a budding documentary filmmaker herself; Ke’Shawn Kumsa, the first college-prep-track student in his family and a self-described “goof-off” who gets over on charm. . . . The faculty come across as caring, conscious and willing to do the work, even if they don’t always agree on how. One well-meaning white teacher, Aaron Podolner, strains so hard to relate to his black students that it gets awkward. . . . Another colleague, Jess Stovall, spends a sabbatical studying how New Zealand’s schools integrate Maori students but struggles to get the administration to implement the ideas she brings back.

Here’s an interview with Stovall, who teaches English.

The 10-part documentary on Oak Park and River Forest High School is getting excellent reviews.

Large high schools where students segregate by social class, race and ethnicity are common.

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