“The New Public is an unwitting primer on how to teach disadvantaged students. As the country continues to struggle with education reform, it seems obvious that education schools need to change, so that prospective teachers walk into their first classroom knowing how to teach. This film can help bring about that change.” - The New York Times
Definitely“With nuance and humor, The New Public shows how poverty presents many obstacles..to effective teaching and strong learning... Inspiring and sobering.”
- Greg Kaufman with Elaine Weiss, THE NATION, BILL MOYERS JOURNAL
“Setting aside political debates over school funding and philosophy to examine one school’s real world experience, The New Public...is a fine addition to the larger conversation and has theatrical appeal.”
“The New Public is exceptional in contrasting the principles of a community and the effort of reaching out to students and offering a system of hope for their future...It is as ambitious and brave as the people who began the small school...”
- Marcos Bernal-Salas, EXAMINER.COM
“A powerful and important film, [The New Public] uniquely documents the reality of urban schools...without reifying stereotypical images of urban education. It is both a well-crafted and emotionally gripping American story and an invaluable learning tool for potential and practicing educators everywhere."
– Anand R. Marri, Ph.D., TEACHERS COLLEGE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY
“The New Public is a three tissue film! It is unlike any education film I have seen before...as honest as it is inspiring. An important, human story. An American story. A must-see...”
– Katherine Chew, BROOKLYN FREE SCHOOL
"A personal look into the lives of a handful of...instantly likable characters. You leave the film with an appreciation of the immense challenges faced by inner-city educators. The New Public doesn’t provide and answer, but it looks at how one imperfect solution has succeeded and failed in the face of impossible odds."
– David Accomazzo, BOULDER WEEKLY
"In an age of rancorous debate over the fate of our schools, The New Public artfully reminds us of the core tenets of public education; trust, service, relationships and an unwavering commitment to the needs of students, families and communities."
– Joseph Bishop, NATIONAL OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN CAMPAIGN
“A thought-provoking look at the challenges and triumphs of public education through engaging characters, students and faculty alike.”
- Basil Tsiokos
Any prospective teacher, and most especially someone who is thinking of teaching in a small urban high school should see this film.”
“This is not just apress. good film about a school. It‘s a film filled with very special human drama that transcends the education film genre and is better than any fictional film about schools that I’ve ever seen. That may seem like hyperbole, but it’s true!...The only film that I remember capturing kids and educators in the inner city as effectively was the great TV series The Wire... That’s a high compliment.”
– Mark Phillips, EDUTOPIA, THE GEORGE LUCAS FOUNDATION
PART ONE: FRESHMAN YEAR.
It’s August 2006, just days before Brooklyn Community Arts and Media high school (BCAM) will open its doors for the first time. Dr. James O’Brien, former D.J. and point guard turned first-time principal, and his faculty of eight, take to the streets in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn to recruit students. Their enthusiasm is infectious and their ethos is enticing: to build strong personal relationships, meet kids where they are at and provide unconventional arts and media electives taught by local artists. From the first day of school, the buzz from the student body (a single class of 104 freshman) is that this is a dream come true. But as the months go by, conflicts arise when “the honeymoon is over.”
PART TWO: SENIOR YEAR.
Flash forward to September 2010, the first day of senior year. Principal O’Brien arrives at the morning staff meeting and marvels that his faculty has grown from 8 to 50. It will be their first year as a complete school with four grades and 450 students.
That’s the good news! The bad news is, of the 104 students in their founding class, almost half have transferred or dropped out, leaving a senior class of 60 – and only 30 on track to graduate.
What happened? What happened is both compelling and frustrating, and it’s what makes The New Public a critical document of the complexities, frustrations and personal dramas that put public education at the center of national debate. What makes a kid or a school succeed are a series of complicated, interconnected dynamics, including, a re-evaluation of how we define “success.”
BCAM has made major adjustments – most notably, more disciplinary structure and no arts electives for seniors. But as O’Brien owns, “We spent more time thinking about empowering our community than board of Ed requirements…now it’s a race to the finish.” Casualties are unavoidable.
Their story explores issues of class, race and culture in the contemporary battlefield of urban education. It’s a case study and a detailed map for the road ahead.
The New Public follows the journey of students, parents and educators striving to reconcile idealism with reality and make a difference in the futures of young people whose lives are stark representations of our country’s education and opportunity gaps. Through the prism of one inner-city public school, we witness complexities faced by urban public schools and communities everywhere.
HOST A SCREENING.
Educators. school administrators, parents, community leaders, non-profit organizations, or concerned citizens:
Catalyze a dialogue about urban public schools on a local and national level. We can help you plan a screening of The New Public in your community. The filmmakers and film’s subjects are available (schedule permitting) to attend your screening.
The New Public: Educators Edition was created by Teacher's College, Columbia University, Professor Anand Marri and independent curriculum writer Brian Crocco specifically for use in teacher training programs at the college and postgraduate levels.
The package includes a chaptered version of the film and an accompanying discussion guide. The Educators Edition was designed to minimize teacher prep time first by identifying moments in the film that can serve as case studies, and then by suggesting the questions and themes that emerge from them.