In 1995, the United States led the world in graduating students from college. Ten years later, it had fallen to fifteenth, not necessarily because it was doing worse, but because other countries were doing much better and were able to surpass it in the rankings. A new PBS documentary, Where We Stand: America’s Schools in the Twenty-first Century, explores whether the United States is doing everything it can to prepare its students to compete in a global economy.
Hosted by Judy Woodruff, senior correspondent for the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, the documentary examines three Ohio schools—in urban Cincinnati, suburban Columbus, and rural Belpre—and raises tough questions about American education. It also provides examples of the impact of education policy and funding formulas and showcases innovative solutions.
Where We Stand also introduces students, parents, teachers and administrators whose stories illustrate both the challenges that many students confront and some students’ the shining successes. They include Bin Che, an educator from mainland China who taught Mandarin in rural Ohio; Cherese Clark, principal of Cincinnati’s Pleasant Hill Academy, a high-poverty school struggling under the pressure of low test scores; Guadalupe Medina, a student at Metro High School in Columbus, who, at age sixteen, had completed all of her high school requirements; and Anne Kuittinen, a Finnish exchange student who had earned straight As in the United States but was required to redo her junior year when she returned to Finland because the Finnish school system doesn’t accept credits from America.
The documentary originally aired on September 16, but interested viewers can now watch it in five segments on the PBS website at http://www.pbs.org/wnet/wherewestand/.