Education: The Movie
Education: the Movie
David L Kirp
George McKenna, Principal, Geo wash Prep HS in LA
At 1983 White House conference of school discipline.
Joe Clark preaching his kick the miscreants out, McKenna
disagreed: "A law enforcement agenda, kicking kids out, is not an
"I came to support the kids and school" he said not the Pres.
advocate of nonviolence
mediocrity in US schools as reported in Sizer trilogy and
Ed journals full of analysis of high failure in inner-city
thoughtful columns in LA papers, adoring profile in
EbonyPeople, glowing report from Reagan
TV CBS movie about McKenna The George McKenna Story
13.5 M saw it.
salvaged wrecked hs
Mckenna Leo Buscaglia, the man who preaches love for students
and not the lash.
"We want to fix education, but you don't do that by seeing
kids as the enemy.
Koppel asked "When do you give up Mr McKenna on students who
are not performing?" McKenna: "Never."
1979, 37 yrs old, became principal.
abandoned to rival gangs
90% black 10% Hispanic crips and Bloods
teachers bullied and beaten up, taught behind locked doors
1/4 stud skipped school
how could downtown let it deteriorate so much/
his agenda was change
college oriented name for school
new philosophy: nonviolence and love
school not gang would be family
"WE are family buttons" in Crips and Bloods colors
"We have to rescue these kids."
He got standing ovation when he told kids of plans.
bringing peace is only ONE item on his list, unlike Joe
school to be a life support system
had male only assemblies and spoke as a father delivering a
"definition of manhood." spoke of love and strength not violence.
He spoke to the girls of violence in families, mothers
idea of family came to mean stud helping each other.
"People who care" was their program which had 700 vols.
they tutored, advice on jobs, made wake-up calls, called
doing god work in community too, painting, cleaning, helping
Agenda for teachers too
lesson plans due every week
nonteaching time in halls
vol tutor after school and Sats
at night call parents home of absent kids which meant six
teachers held accountable: your can't be great if your kid
Had Union problems
In first 3 years 100 of 117 teachers quit or were eased out
when hand picked 1/4 left each year.
biggest prob is acad achievement
How to recreate Beverley Hills High in ghetto.
stud had hw all 5 nights, 2 on weekends
unexcused abs below 10%, lowest in LA
dropout rate was down 14%
curriculum 18 sections of chem, and some AP classes. Enough?
Where has love Gone?
Sept 88 McKenna has gone to the sup's office. Higgins his
former asst is prin.
SOSO comes back. McKenna spirit not present to carry on.
His 70% he claims went to college was really 40- 50% and a high
proportion flunked out of college.
Problem was he couldn't replicate it.
His program died without him in charge, which says it is