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 education agenda."
  • "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 others.
  • Ed journals full of analysis of high failure in inner-city schools.
  • 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 Clarke
    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 beating children.
  • 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 skipping classmates.
    doing god work in community too, painting, cleaning, helping
  • Agenda for teachers too
    do more
    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 calls home.
    teachers held accountable: your can't be great if your kid fails.
  • 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 hollow.