Education

A&E Cable Channel Plans High School Documentary Series

By Mark Walsh — May 18, 2017 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

“Hey, aren’t you a little old to be a student here?”

That may be something heard in a new—and somewhat unconventional—documentary series about an American high school coming to cable TV.

The as-yet unnamed show will appear on the A&E cable channel after filming took place at Highland Park High School in Topeka, Kan., during the spring semester this year. The unconventional factor is that the show will follow seven young adults—reportedly ages 21 to 26—who have “personal motivations” for embedding in the school and acting like students, the channel says.

“Highland Park High School is emblematic of schools across America today,” Elaine Frontain Bryant, A&E’s executive vice president and head of programming, said in a news release. “Through immersive content and unprecedented access, viewers return to high school for a unique look into life as an American teen today, a topic at the forefront of today’s cultural conversation.”

The Topeka Capital-Journal had a story this week that quoted a Topeka school district spokeswoman and the principal of Highland Park High as revealing that the participants include a teacher, a youth minister, a motivational speaker, and others who are part of causes to help struggling high school students.

The seven “embedded” students were all vetted with background checks and screenings by the production and the school system. The “students” went to classes, did homework, and took tests (though not state achievement tests), the Capital-Journal said. Most teachers and students did not know the participants were actually young adults, but if the participants were asked about it, they had to be forthcoming, Topeka district spokeswoman Misty Kruger told the Capital-Journal.

The Topeka district is led by Superintendent Tiffany Anderson, who was one of Education Week‘s 2015 Leaders to Learn From when she led a Missouri district.

(The premise does remind me of a San Francisco Chronicle series quite some time ago in which a 26-year-old reporter removed her wedding ring and tried to blend in as an undercover high school student. Students were quickly dubious, saying “Hi, narc” when they passed her in the halls.)

Highland Park High School Principal Beryl New told the Capital-Journal said she only agreed to allow the project after producers assured her it would be “a good thing” and not damaging to the school. The newspaper said the production would donate an unspecified amount of money to the Topeka Public Schools Foundation for scholarships, as well as donating some video equipment and helping teach some master classes in a career education program.

A&E is known for such reality shows as “Storage Wars, “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” and “Born This Way,” an Emmy Award-winning series about seven young adults born with Down syndrome.

The network said in a May 15 release that the title and airdate for the show will be released shortly.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Education and the Media blog.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Education Insights with Actionable Data to Create More Personalized Engagement
The world has changed during this time of pandemic learning, and there is a new challenge faced in education regarding how we effectively utilize the data now available to educators and leaders. In this session
Content provided by Microsoft
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Accelerate Learning with Project-Based Learning
Earlier this year, the George Lucas Educational Foundation released four new studies highlighting how project-based learning (PBL) helps accelerate student learning—across age groups, multiple disciplines, and different socio-economic statuses. With this year’s emphasis on unfinished
Content provided by SmartLab Learning
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. If we

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education California Makes Ethnic Studies a High School Requirement
California is among the first in the nation to require students to take a course in ethnic studies to get a diploma starting in 2029-30.
4 min read
FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2020, file photo, Democratic Assembly members, from left, James Ramos, Chris Holden Jose Medina, and Rudy Salas, Jr., right, huddle during an Assembly session in Sacramento, Calif. Medina's bill to make ethnic studies a high school requirement was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
Education California Requires Free Menstrual Products in Public Schools
The move comes as women’s rights advocates push nationwide for affordable access to pads, tampons, and other items.
1 min read
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP
Education Florida to Dock School District Salaries for Requiring Masks
Florida is set to dock salaries and withhold funding from local school districts that defied Gov. Ron DeSantis' ban on mask mandates.
2 min read
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Education More Than 120,000 U.S. Kids Had Caregivers Die During Pandemic
The toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans, a new study suggests.
3 min read
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021 file photo, a funeral director arranges flowers on a casket before a service in Tampa, Fla. According to a study published Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, by the medical journal Pediatrics, the number of U.S. children orphaned during the COVID-19 pandemic may be larger than previously estimated, and the toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)