In 2014, WBEZ Chicago reporter Linda Lutton followed a class of fourth-graders at William Penn Elementary School on Chicago’s West Side. She wanted to explore a big idea that’s at the heart of the American dream: Can public schools be the great equalizer in society, giving everyone a chance to succeed, no matter where they come from or how much money their families have?
Lutton told the story in a Peabody Award-nominated show, “The View from Room 205.” This week, Reveal presents a condensed version of that documentary.
Don’t miss the next big story. Get the Weekly Reveal newsletter today.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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The country students are getting restless, classes are coming to an end and the promise of summer seems just within reach, but I want to take you back to the beginning of another.
Its September, twenty forty, Morocco Mama's president in just a few weeks after a white police officer to Michael Brow
Ferguson Resort on the West side of Chicago. Fourth, graters
the impasse elementary had the first day of school in their minds
piling into an auditorium to hear from their mayor Rama Manual, whose touting right
test scores, yes, give the teachers ahead
what they have accomplished? The head of the public
The time Barbara vanities here too, to tell kids a version of something that poor children all over the country. Here constantly no
where you from what neighborhood you call home and no matter what your dreams are in life. It is right here it pen that our children are going to get this start so that they can have that dream chase, that dream capture that dream and live it. It's a
the idea that is at the core of our nations identity does
Who you are or were you born? You can make it in school. Is where that habits? These fourth waiters are all sitting.
Front they live in the north Longbill neighbourhood of Chicago one of the poorest neighborhoods in the country, its fill with vague lots and boarded up buildings how many jobs all of Chicago believes in you
no subject too hard for you to learn. There's no dream you can achieve if you stay focused and persistent. If you stay focused and persistent, and with that, she makes it clear it's up to the fourth graters in every kid in the auditorium, to work hard,
succeed, it's up to them and William Penn elementary.
The school bell rings than the principle,
play on the sound system can use now much faster than the mayor. The tv cameras back up and the school year begins with everyone, hoping that William Penn can be the antidote to poverty. That's what schools are supposed to be the great equalizer except too often they're, not and lately, when schools don't make it drastic things happen in London, two thirds of the schools have either been closed, returned into China.
Schools were seen their entire staff replaced from the principle to the lunch leads to find out what life is like under that kind of pressure. Education, reporter, Linda Leaden of W B, Easy Chicago spent twenty fourteen school year reporting on a fourth grade. Classroom pin today whip
condense version of her Peabody Award nominated Documentary, the view from room to o five.
I know it's is gonna, be fine and am, I believe, a challenge if anybody's
Take the mayor and the schools chief at their word and dream and be persistent. It's the fourth graters in room.
Well hundred and five you can meet their town if
haven't been around fourth graters recently. Let me remind you how great they are. There still curious and fun happy to please their teachers. They get excited about simple things like
pudding for lunch? The first thing we do this more is: what do you know about? The room starts to buzz their teacher, Ms Carolyn, Hath or and move from group to group. If he saw his hat or in the supermarket, you might actually guess she's a school teacher.
You are a turtle, necks and teacher sweaters and sturdy shoes. I know their fourth grade is not going to be easy,
Oh, we are going to act and take the test.
I know I am. I not pass. Whoops wrote their role, they present their work to the class
had torn and ask them a loving makes them feel proud. Life like next was hath or turned to the test. The one they took last year, that's gone,
Lord thank says one of the fourth graders, as if God himself heads
down the old standardized test. In that way,
and I heard someone say she write park on the board, but she doesn't have to the kids all know about it. Even though
brand new and they all know the other big standardized test to which still take three times this year. Think about this for a minute, the kids in room to a five hour.
About an hour into fourth grade. Instead of imagining science experiments, art projects, field trips, what they're looking ahead to are the standardized exams and that's not unusual. This is the norm at high poverty schools like pen, because the tests there how we measure a school success, it's how we decide if all the reforms were trying are working in middle class schools where kids score well. The tests feel like an afterthought, but in high poverty schools like pen, they are centre stage. All we're gonna have to read. The law will have the right and left a man is very challenging, but I do believe you can do it. I do believe you can do it, but, as Ms Hawthorne looks out
her brand new. Fourth graders. Thirty kids look back at her and try to imagine this please! Twenty three of them are boys. She has the son of a former gang leader in class, wonders what that will be like there's the boy whose depressed on medication, age, nine, several children have parents in jail or recent.
Released, I don't know- and some I don't know, if I'm doing some writing something very bad and God is trying to tell me so much about room. Two hundred and five feels optimistic. Take Jamari a he's like the classroom.
T guy Miss had thrown calls him her low computer man competing de la gloomy wooden. When she can't get a protectorate of work or the fourth graders have trouble logging on the computer lab to Maria gets the call
put the password in on the tablets
defining the Timorese a little chunky. He has a head full a dread locks. He looks like he could somehow be your uncle
Even though he's only nine, he loves anything electronic his current obsession is an obscure video game
Eugene what I want to know. What s character
play jizz in my title screen am I made my own music for a to mom is positive, he'll, be a game designer when he grows up a software engineer, something I like to thinking of what all the fourth graders might be. Chelsea, for instance,
Earl with an outsider, laugh she's, always organizing something in room to o five dollars now she's, fine, bold opinionated, maybe a future active at recess. I'd! Let the fourth graters play with my radio equipment com,
Pretend to be reporters. Celebrities live on air, from room to O five Chelsea. What did you say about the hurricane Latin? Ah, I see the whole day what chance allow Mamma. I love you and now mission and I'll be wearing. My big are remote control,
calcium, got an ear to ear smile and a backpack bigger than he is just about. Every time Kelsey got near my tape. Recorder he'd, give a shoutout Tis mom
I thought his shouts were like any other kids shouts until I found out
the only sees her on Fridays he's a foster kid and my microphone Kelsey saw it as a way to connect with her pen is calcium third school. In three years his first was shut down. He changed again after he got put in a foster home, but he's relentlessly positive here's what I mean Kelsey. How was your day, it was a great day really what made a subway gods we we are leaving nothing special, even great, is just calcium baseline. When you talk to kids like Kelsey, were so many of the kids in room tool. Five, you feel like yeah it
so possible to overcome poverty by sheer positivity by smarts. By curiosity, I started going to class, as often as we do
Ah no briefings us was unhappy and it means tell cease working with a partner and he's doing a little dance right by his desk, which he does unkind.
Justly almost all the time Kelsey failed. This disobeyed that'll make many of the words they're supposed to modify with their new prefixes. Our words they don't know
it's that neither school nor life along sixteenth Street has taught them like the word ripe. The only example I can come up with the man Miss Half comes out for this is the second group she's, helping with the definition of ripe right, but downloads are yellow. I can't think of a store along sixteenth street that sells fruit. The modalities of ring arrive woman to say about them, they're, not young, oh say they are not.
All the whig grown calcium, his friend lean over a dictionary yet run down, Hasn t fully grow and develop right unripe. I want to paint you a picture of the neighborhood
are the kids in room to o five live if you wanna shorthand way to think about it? I t imagine tv footage you ve seen of Detroit or Baltimore or the worst part of New Orleans. A few years after Hurricane Katrina, Northland deals, Katrina has been a decades long, storm of disinvestment, slow and thorough. One day I ran into Kelsey outside right by pen
he was with his brother, and we were talking for a while before I realized the conversation kept coming back to the same place.
I had a long day, our jobs.
Since there was no school to stay, there was also no school breakfast or lunch. A guy from a social service agency happened to pass by coming out of pen. He tossed each of the boys a little bag of chips.
Calcium brother, finished his own then started eyeing, calcium, ok, I guess
guys I can get to. Thank. Are you hungry gotten, you are:
What are you doing today? Show off while plus your breakfast three redfish, we're a breathless? Everyone else that it's almost five p m and we actually refers anyway before we
It calls he looks at me. I'm gonna act with what I get
I've done ground
to see if I can turn away up. I put my microphone right up next. Accountants Tommy and I give him my headphones, so he can hear and just as I do, a car
drives by which sounds like a big growl any sometimes it felt like they're just wasn't enough food. In long Dale, there's been an increase in people
on two dollars a day or less in this country. Long deal is one of the places they live. Homes that stay dark after the sun goes down, not enough for the light bell. People go to friends, houses to bathe when the gas has cut off. There are more shuddered businesses than open ones along sixteenth street, most everything behind bars or bulletproof glass. What causes us,
I really want to see these game. Mister Murry was always talking about all the characters he was building at his apartment. I wasn't sure we'd be looking at a laptop or a desktop, but I had not considered this his moms cellphone all so or look learner algae cracked screen. Yes, I dropped. It turns out room to o fives. I t guy
little computer man has no computer at home later in the school year, I notice an article in the newspaper about Minecraft summer camps. Of course I thought of GMO area. The story was about how frantic parents were pleading to pay extra tuition, thousands of dollars sometimes to secure spots for their kids in the camps in Longbill, the per capita income is twelve thousand dollars a year. That's close to the amount affluent parent spend on each of their children just for enrichment, musical instruments, tutoring for standardized tests. Minecraft came early life.
That is how things may be headed towards seventy and retirement, but she still has a way with the fourth graters. What are you,
it was half hour is considered a pro at pen. She train the principle but she's. Also an old school teacher. Her own training took place in the late nineteenth sixties. Back then Chicago assigned black students to infamous temporary classrooms, specifically to avoid integration. Some is hath organs, very first classroom wasn't even
Technically in school, it was on the first floor of a housing project. She was assigned a mentor tamper, become the best teacher possible. The first does, she came, knew you could tell. She was nervous. She had to go by. The game was to get back there.
So once you will, then then there was a fire. It was on an upper floor, the projects and at one point, a mattress full of flames came crashing to the ground, fell right by the classroom door. That was enough for her
Mentor teacher at lead is just as Caroline would you walk me out of the car she never came back. I had to do a John, so the two good track. What I was doing and that was miss- have thorns
preparation as a teacher, the segregation and racism of the city baked right into her training view of the conditions she teaches in have changed.
Its MS hath thorns normal, concentrated poverty, segregated schools, a bomb doubt neighbourhood,
in long deal, a lot of
things are normal that shouldn't be as soon as I found out about the killing. I went to see Chelsea the fourth greater with the outsize laugh her cousin caprice was sixteen on the funeral programme has a baby face. He's floating in a blue cloud filled sky light from the heavens all around. He was shot on the same block.
Pen I found Chelsea outside she was just back from the funeral. We guess sat two tasks in here to dancing chess. This has become the wage. Halsey explains what happened. The refrain of her cousins killing the funeral was
been casket, he had a who want to make up our cause, though
They have they want they when they can cover it up, so they have to put a whole bunch of make up on him and he was over dark like this Chelsea TAT,
my black car or you Rodya thank a light that make up, came off and shown low piece of a bully home, good air by customers for Chelsea, big voice and her confidence make it easy to forget that she's, just ten years old and she's, one of the older kids out here, I feel, like I've, stumbled into a mini impromptu memorial, one just attended by children. I feel he died the thing about kids, they dont really follow adult rules for talking about death and even while their grieving, there's too little kids debating what makes a good block party answer.
Anti House, and how to best pickles put the local jobs will draw up a sour Bilbil jewels day, I'll make it your life. When I call I shall cease clutching the funeral programme, occasionally kid tries to snatch it. They want to see and getting that first version you have known who was ever shot like Chelsea looks at me pause,
almost like. Of course, Caprice is not the first person I've known to be shot area, but every day,
No, my uncle King Arthur
Karen gosh, I, when I was five
I've, never glistening, we'll Ohguro will heal
he home. They give me all my days in jail,
he got out when I was seven
He had a shot in the head to retain incorrect s, actually does
kind of drama. These kids are carrying with them every day, whether there on the playground at home or in Rome to us.
William Ornamented, on real incentive for
to get reporting and p r exe.
From the centre
Investigative reporting in p r eggs. This is reveal a militant today.
We're getting a rare look inside the life of a classroom. A fourth graters at will
campaign elementary on Chicago's West side, so it comes to us from W B, Easy Chicago,
we're playing a shortened version of their documentary, the view from Rome O five students and teachers a pen.
You'll tremendous pressure to do well on standardized tests or face the fate of more than a hundred other hype,
pretty schools Chicago and be shut down
Linda, Leaden, picks up the story in January with testing Day just around the corner right around this time, Miss Heather and begins using a code working class, bring back the man.
Eighteen, thereby no one talks about it, turns out, ban, was half or didn't get this information and tell just recently teen of her students more than half the class barely pass. The third grade lead is in Germany will have do some bad that eighteen behaviour, if you don't make it is because of choices you're making by Miss Hath thorn. Only half believes that really this clear should be two classes for them to get the individual attention that they mean does, but does not go
happen. So I need to make this work the best way possible. One of her biggest challenges born of the eighteen is a little boy named Karim,
cream fights with classmates. He
out of his chair during lessons. Karim is a constant threat to everything, miss Hath or in trying to accomplish this year. This has thorn, has tried so many times to get creams mom on the phone. She practically knows the number by heart, but she also knows cream is basically raising himself with some
help from brothers and sisters, not that much older than he is one day and answered prayer. A neighbor comes up to room to o five. Four Karim on taking this hath calls Karim up to the front of the room. His godmother stands right beside him and his hath one asks the fourth graters to tell Karim how they feel about his disruptions. Business common from Veil Chelsea raises her hand to speak, feel because all she knows screen
she's. No boy he's been our time all over the course of the year. There are lots of moments like this moments, where things feel like they're, getting a tiny bit desperate in room to o five she'll know ten teacher half a dozen kids get up to testify, then Kareem's godmother has him apologize for
robbing his classmates of their chance to learn that you wanted to hear your teacher a yoke last half hour, you we're wasting their time. Why? She, China, tease pill
Are you taking a learning away? Karim has his hands in his pockets. He looks sometimes at the floor, sometimes at his classmates
around this time in the school year, Miss Hathor and starts teaching. Six days a week there, Saturday school at pen in preparation for standardized tests when the first round of scores come back. The news in room to o five is not good. Ah love, I'm not please! I had somebody go thou manners. Eighteen matters. Seventy
Please, with that at all the teachers received, the results had a staff meeting and Miss had Thorn was in me uncomfortable position of having the least progress in the school, making her look bad in front of colleagues back it up. You gotta move up a gear would make do we understand the job? I'm not certain and another me look down at law gave us I'm embarrassed, and you can do some about here
yes downstairs. The principle has posted every student score on some giant charts in her office. They take up an entire wall and there are kids on that wall who are making
who will defy long deals, circumstances and beat the odds? America loves those stories. We tell them again and again, but there's a bigger pattern. Here too one that's harder to look at one, that's true across the entire country. It looks like this: the more poor kids in a school, the lower the scores, nothing better predicts how kids will do and standardized tests, then, where they sit along the spectrum of poverty and privilege. Let's say all the fourth graters in the entire country lined up on a huge stairway based on their test scores, so the highest scoring kids would be up on the third floor and the lowest scoring kids would be in the basement. Nearly all poor kids are in the basement. Pen, despite its scores, inching up for nearly a decade is in the basement that pattern. It's true in every state, true for public schools for
Carter, schools and the gap between how rich kids and poor kids do it's actually growing decades of fixing schools has not shaken poverties hold if we want to make the american dream real for poor kids. This is what we have to wrestle with. I'm not the first person to be looking at poverty from this very spot.
Not the Martin Luther king in nineteen sixty six Martin
their king Jr moved into a dilapidated apartment right across the street, from William Penn Katy Corner from the playground
and we're down
I want experience in North Lawndale, King stairwell smelled like urine the door to the street wouldn't lock. This was after he won the Nobel Peace Prize after Birmingham and Selma. Now his target was poverty. He wanted an end to what he called.
Um jobs, slum wages, slum schools when a man does not have a good job ban wages he's the sleigh when a man cannot live in substantial housing. Provision
he's a lay king wondered the government to battle poverty head on. He called for a huge increase too.
Minimum wage and massive investment in neighborhoods like this one billions of dollars he wanted game
teased that no one would live below a certain income and that income should be high. He said not low. King said this would be the hardest part of civil rights movement because it was gonna cost
society, something much easier has agreed a bus.
Than it is to get a programme that will force the government to put billions of dollars and ending slums. Almost nothing of what
who called for in has been implemented even partially. The poverty rate is higher in law deal today than it was in nineteen. Sixty six, the unemployment rate is at great depression levels. Seventy five percent of land, L residents older than aged sixteen, don't have a job for black history.
The fourth graters in room to o five learned a poem about king.
Today is the day we all sing.
But the fourth graters won't hear that king lived across the street. They won't hear anything about poverty. They won't hear that king said people are poor
because we use our low because discrimination limits opportunities, because schools are under funded you're, not poor, because of you.
Students had been studying all you longed for the big standardized this when we come back we'll see how
all the pressure round tests living
teachers and the staff at William Penn to do something that feels desperate
This reveal from the centre for investigative reporting in p r exe.
From the centre for investigative reporting. It p r eggs. This is reveal I'm Allison,
today, Linda London of W B, Easy Chicago is bringing us her documentary
View from room to o five, it's an intimate
and unflinching, look at poverty and the american education system.
And found out students,
the impasse. Elementary are under incredible pressure to succeed as other schools leaders.
One thing. If anyone can help
North Lonsdale kids get out of poverty. It should be Cheryl more all e, hence principle,
from this community and on Monday and
You know those kids. I me I was there as a kid. She lived through. Domestic violence saw gangs lure her brother, but she became valedictorian over high school
and eventually earned her doktor it. So I know that success happen,
and communities like this
I don't care of your shoes flippin at the bottom.
The only valid you have. You can do
no matter what doktor
His own triumph is the sort of trajectory we believe is possible. We want her story to be everybody story.
But when you hang out a pen long enough, you see the complicated D.
Doktor Ali and the teachers due to try to make pen live up to its promise, like she hired an extra third grade teacher to keep class
prices down, but that no means artists taught by two parents and music is taught by a country
The instrument there studying today,
Is the Orange Home Depot five gallon bucket tomorrow?
like coming to class factor, Holly resents having to cut corners and her students
It's so much more. There are three hundred and sixty seven kids at pen, one of the neediest schools in the city and just eighteen get time with a social worker. Not a single one of the fourth graders in room to all five qualifies pens budget is like a lot of public school,
Jets never feels like enough, but even if pen had all the resources of a wealthy school, if there were small class, I
as an art and music,
even a little orchestra. The way Doktor Ali has imagined the world.
Side would be just as mean there would still be no fruit on sixteenth street, no jobs, still no parent to call about Karim the boy whose most
raising himself lots of kids. This
age are so easy to love. Their big hearts show through right away Karim hides under.
Hoodie gives one word answers.
This is Karim. He loved the idea of taking my tape recorder home, but he was guarded even when he was all by himself. My failure. Sports is basketball. That's all, I have to say little bits of creams. History have appeared from time to time in the newspaper headline mother of sex charged with murder of boyfriend. It's a story about creams mom.
Allegedly killing her boyfriend with a stake knife. All six kids at home. The youngest of those was Karim idle player above lagging.
And I love you more. Every
it may come by room to o five cream is getting in trouble. Today, he's been put out of class
I'm just gonna walk around half a mockery.
I'm not coming cream says he slowly starts to cry.
Standing against the wall in the hallway, under its hood, Miss Hathor and caused the security guards to get him to come
Will you listen you? The jail Karim is really sobbing. Now to me. It seems so obvious that something else is
Learn something beyond being put out of class. I think miss hath are probably sees that too much
He has a broader mission. Thirty kids.
I know I know a lot of things that could be making cream cry. Maybe it's the unanswered Christmas letter he sent to his dad in prison is hath or and help them right that maybe it's his moms,
to leave a drug that all overlong deal on the day she supposed to check into rehab. She can't make it only God can judge me,
t shirt says that they is too much and you still you know expected to achieve in the midst of the chaos that goes on on a daily basis. One day, some months later, police came to pan with a foster care worker. They were there to take Kareem his brother and sister to an emergency shelter. There was one police officer per child. In case they ran pens assistant, principal called the kids out of class. Three angels cry now see, look we're not going to be together. That was what he said. We're not going to be together.
In the spring on principle. Ali goes to a performance management session with district officials. They pick apart. Everything that can possibly be measured at PAN test scores attendance rates, all down to the tenth of a percentage point and when she gets back Doktor Ali shares a torrent of
frustration with her assistant principle. You know they don't understand what we deal with me. A hundred facilitators would be perfect and we had perfect families. You now
Now they does one. As you know, you gotta get, this make it happen, saw weeping
We also have to figure out how to make it happen. How do we do it? What can we do the week before the big park test? I stopped at a staff meeting. It was in the principal's office, the third fourth and fifth grade teachers were gathered, including was half or not.
The topic was the upcoming Perth test results. First, disconnection each teacher was looking at a test, booklet or photocopied test neglect.
The park tests arrive in the mail school officials are told to keep the box under lock and key until they give the exam. That's how serious security as around these tests, but now here I was looking at the actual test, and so were the teachers
They were pouring overriding passages and questions where they really we read it good.
Mrs Cresson, I acted like this was the most norm.
A thing in the world to see teachers paging through the state standardized exam but inside all, I could think of was why. Why are they doing?
I did not want to be seen this. What was that? The real partners,
you guys we're looking through
yeah, we haven't, we have a tense its principal Ali. You have actual security features, look through there,
They got vacancy the tests. We can given the test before the tests happens. One of them
you guys them, but the format of the tests, but it doesn't say that they can have a task before the assassin, so hopefully they can actually know.
Can't and that's really clear in all the rules schools are given about this test. I didn't come here to report on standardized tests or to do some expos ay. My thing was to see up close,
what poverty throws at nine and ten year olds and how their schools respond. It was
until later that I realized what I saw that staff meeting was part of my story. It's part of what we get by telling schools. There's no excuse for low scores by turning the screws.
I'm not saying we get cheating every time, I'm not even sure. I should call what happened at pen cheating. Sometimes I would leave pen turnover
using my car and hear about big blatant cheating like at Lana. Were teachers were told to get score.
Up by any means necessary. They changed kids answer sheets, that's not what I saw a pen, but the pressure feels the same with just three weeks: left of school. Everybody in rooms
Oh five lines up Kelsey at the front of the line to Maria at the end, and they marched down stairs to a basement computer lab to take the highest stakes test of the year in this pale, yellow, cinder block room, the kid scores will help determine Miss hath thorns rating as a teacher and pens rating as a school, I noticed nearly all the kids are carrying their class planners, which have a whole reference section inside Miss Hath or in her.
Had instructed the kids to bring them, which is weird, since no reference materials are allowed in testing protesting
Do we timetables, we gonna take
tonight. We are. We had to name the shades,
is an agenda over the shapes hitherto where's that
Abe, says models is already here
As we all know, your money is right. You know your decibels, the fourth graters we're in the computer.
For an hour or so when I wandered back, testing was wrapping up the diminish testing
Would you let us come out
when they were lining up to go. A little Kelsey came up to me quietly and he whispered this right into my micro
nothing more like what you say: they don't they don't like you, these things. I saw the teachers looking at the task ahead of time,
its using reference materials? They are not allowed and they are wrong. There also, the first things. I've told you about in this whole story that would ever make a news,
line, and you can probably imagine that story to the principal on the hot seat, the teacher all the fingers pointed, but now-
In all the things I have told you about. That would never get a headline that would never get our attention. All you
not know about pen. You wouldn't know that the fourth graters learned the word ripe from a dictionary you wouldn't know about the killing of Chelsea Cousin or about Kelsey missing breakfast and lunch. That's not news! You wouldn't learn that not one of the fourth greater sketch time with a social worker. It can be hard to look at. Schools like
hard to look at places like Lonsdale, and I think that's why we mostly walk away the whole idea that kids and schools can overcome poverty.
That idea allows us to look away because we tell ourselves the problem,
Poverty and unemployment will be taken care of by the schools by the fourth creators and their teachers working hard a week after room to o fives big task. I ran into Miss Halftone in the hallway she brought up what I had seen with the agenda both debated about that I'm sorry I did it didn't have
scores. Monkey Isabel was achieved its first. I'm ever put myself in a situation like that. So many people
Has he been credible for the last twenty
There is so close to being closed.
And I think I let my most get in my way. You know this time space time so much is dependent on the cheap
in terms of whether your school doors stale, while the people
maintaining jobs there. So many things in the school like this that should be in place in terms of helping children be successful. I tell Miss had Foreign, that's the whole point of me being here to see why
pen is up against what schools are up against. Don't nobody here, that's the bottom! Nobody cares
I want to tell you about the end of the school year at pen, all the fourth graters in room to o five passed to the fifth grade. There were cupcakes for
Kareem's birthday, Hungary,
happy birthday from the whole class rail air. I wish you many many more
handed not meet its testing goals the year. I was there, despite all efforts, legitimate and not so legitimate. Since then, scores have been up and down there about the same as scores at nearby charter schools and schools were all new teachers have been installed, but, of course,
All those schools are still miles below where middle class kid score. We believe schools can overcome poverty, but what? If we're wrong? What if were putting way too much faith in schools to overcome all the obstacles? Poverty presence, not because poor kids are any less brighter talented, not because they don't work is hard
simply because money, the kind of money that middle class or affluent people have that money buys experiences that help kids understand the world understand the word ripe. It buys music lessons and sports practice connections to people with jobs and opportunities, money,
by his dinner. Every night buys a neighborhood where kids are not shot, buys a school with more resources. We should want our schools to get back.
But what if we just plain wrong about how much schools can do to make the american dream real for kids, like the
Fourth graters in London
we're after his time in landfill, Martin Luther King became even more convinced that poverty should be attacked head on. He said trying to fix housing or education is just to indirect each seeks to solve poverty by first solving something else. He wrote the biggest supporters of the idea that schools can overcome poverty. They often call education, the civil rights issue of our time. They challenge the quality of schools and their right to do that, but they dont challenge what king was challenging. The conditions kids live in the conditions in which school takes place.
Now's, Linda Latin and Linda Commute
why you want to do the story. Looking at the connection between poverty and school, I guess because
education? Reporters like me, are confronted all the time with numbers test, scores, graduation rates and a lot of times when a schools numbers look good. That's just means that fewer
poor kids. I wanted to look a lot harder at that idea that no matter where you're from you can make it and we're really looking to schools as the place. For that to happen. Exe.
You know what we know from research is that, more than ever before your family's background
term how well you'll do in school and how well you do in school determines also more than ever before your future earnings. I think that something
our should feel really uncomfortable with a while back. I went to work with kids.
At were in a neighborhood. There was severely economically challenged, and I thought I understood poverty before and what I found was at poverty kind of changes every
like it shifts the narrative that we'd normally think about how families work and how communities work. What did you learn about poverty that you didn't already know like what perceptions were shifted after this expense?
well. I think certain things that you hear about on an academic level DC knows those and being confronted with those every day.
From a nine year old that touches you in a way that changes you little kids, who are persistently hungry with something I wasn't actually really prepared for didn't understand, would play a factor in in what I was seeing. So by investing
getting the nations education policy, you really zooming out and looking at the big picture of what's happening with echo,
inequality in America yeah
I'm taking a look at the fact that in the U S we essentially build are
cool policy around the notion that schools will overcome poverty, that poverty is no excuse for low achievement and
do that by imposing pretty harsh sanctions on poor schools when they fail to meet our standards, and if we believe that its schools that are failing, then the answer is to fix schools and that's better approach. We have not tried to fix poverty.
When you started looking into this, you were doing it during the Obama administration, but now present tromp is in power and hollow administration, how's that affecting students like the ones. You spent that school you with we're, seeing for the first time ever possible work requirements for Medicaid recipients in housing, or seen proposals to increase the percentage of poor peoples, income that goes towards
housing. I should say too, when it comes to education policy, there's not a lot of fundamental difference between the Obama, administration and Betsy Device, for instance, both embrace really radical consequences for America's lowest performing schools, which are schools full of poor kids. So I have to ask you about something
things. You stumbled upon the teachers in the principal reading through the standardized tests and them is half
Allowing the kids to bring notes into the test what happened as a result of their well Chicago public schools, said:
It did investigate those incidents. There have never been any findings made public. I can say doctor all you still principle,
at William Penn elementary. You know just before we broadcast the documentary Doktor Ali Essential each
and her story and said those were not the actual tests that teachers had been looking at all. She said they were practice tests
Though our reporting, you know, we had confirmed with the state that they were the real tests.
A leading researcher in the country who spends a lot of time with task or analysis, as he does not think Chicago. Schools have a widespread cheating problem. What can you tell us about the kids in the classroom? I mean how are they doing now, while the fourth greater, as are all seventh graters? Now
Jim yea is still really into computers. A listener actually sent him a computer after he heard this documentary Karim still not back with his mom hyenas. Siblings, live with an Anton Chicago South side. He doesn't go to pen Chelsea still lives right around the corner from where her cousin was killed.
Linda has a reporter w B easy in Chicago again, her documentaries called the view from Rome to O five. You can listen to a complete version of it and see photos from Lawndale illustrations from school year, W B, easy dot, Org slash room. Two of us
Linda one of my favorite reporters in the universe. Thank you so,
but for your work and show you start with his. Thank you out. We want to give a special thanks to the fourth graders, their families in every one it William Penn Elementary School, especially missed
a thorn in Doktor Ali Mary
acumen K, K had edited the documentary. It was made
By JO do so being Calhoun was?
for today show was supported by us
Sir Fellowship in education reporting, a colombian universities, graduate journalist support for it.
He was provided by the Raven David Logan Foundation, the Johnny and care
Mccarthy foundation. The Jonathan Logan fail
foundation. The Ford Foundation, the hiding Simons Foundation and the ethics and excellence in journalism foundation reveal
as a co production of cynical investigative, reporting and p r ex I'm and remember there is always more to the story.
These are last few shows of the year, and let me tell you in twenty twenty we are bringing the fire launching some of our most ambitious projects we ve ever done. I can wait for you to hear them reveal is all about going deep, pulling on threads.
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Transcript generated on 2019-12-20.