Find your next job fast at the Jan. 28 Virtual Career Fair. Register now.
Blog

Your Education Road Map

Politics K-12®

ESSA. Congress. State chiefs. School spending. Elections. Education Week reporters keep watch on education policy and politics in the nation’s capital and in the states.

Education

Her Future’s So Bright She’s Gotta Wear Sunglasses

By Michele McNeil — December 05, 2007 2 min read

ED in ’08, the national campaign to bring education to the forefront of the presidential campaigns, has gotten some attention lately for struggling to make headway in its efforts to make improving public schools a top campaign issue. (Read the EdWeek story here, and blog items here and here.) Yesterday, in fact, I suggested that the group could take a more aggressive stand on education issues if it wanted to gain traction.

That may happen if a new documentary, produced by Broken Pencil Productions in partnership with ED in ’08, generates some serious attention.

The trailer for “Two Million Minutes,” (below) is without doubt, provocative. It deliberately and effectively paints a picture of the prevailing stereotypes from two education worlds—one in the United States, and the other in Asia. According to the documentary, American students are getting passed by in the global race for admission to the best universities and the good jobs that follow. The film—or at least the trailer—has a certain Inconvenient Truth-iness about it, since it shares many of the same qualities as Al Gore’s environmental documentary, which sounded alarm bells on global warming.

The movie purports to illustrate the problems facing the American education system, and its youth, through the stories of six high school students—two each from the United States, China, and India—whose futures will be shaped by the millions of minutes they spend in high school. The differences among these students are stark and will inevitably spark controversy. ED in ’08 will sponsor screenings of the documentary around the country, beginning in January.

The two American students are from the affluent Indianapolis suburb of Carmel, Indiana. While 17-year-old Brittany Brechbuhl, who boasts a 3.9 GPA, talks of college in terms of joining a sorority, partying, and doing some “crazy” stuff, a peer in India describes American students as living a dream, with virtually “no studying.” While Brittany tries on sunglasses in her free time, 17-year-old Hu Xiaoyaun of China says she plays the violin, does her school work, and tries to never waste time.

In another scene, 17-year-old Rohit Sridharan of India describes how he could do math problems even when he was very young. Then, in an effort to question the rigor in American classrooms, viewers see a U.S. teacher giving a pop quiz to high school students. The quiz is on calculators, of all things.

The filmmakers are clearly making a point by drawing distinctions between the (perceived) high standards and serious attitudes that pervade the education systems of Asia with the (perceived) partying and carefree attitudes of sunglass-wearing students in American schools. The problems facing many American high schools are tremendous—high dropout rates, lackluster academic standards, and an achievement gap between minority and nonminority students. But it will interesting to see the entire movie, because my guess is that Brittany (who wants to be a doctor) has a serious side to her, while the students in India and China, like any teenagers, take time to have fun, too.

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
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Branding your district matters. This webinar will provide you with practical tips and strategies to elevate your brand from three veteran professionals, each of whom has been directly responsible for building their own district’s brand.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
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
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Nearly two-thirds of U.S. school districts are using hybrid learning right now with varying degrees of success. Students and teachers are getting restless and frustrated with online learning, making curriculum engagement difficult and disjointed. While
Content provided by Samsung
Teaching Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table With Education Week: How Educators Can Respond to a Post-Truth Era
America is more divided than ever—and dangerously so. We need not look any further than the recent attack on the U.S. Capitol while Congress was certifying the results of the presidential election. The denial of

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Special Education Teacher
Chicago, Illinois
JCFS Chicago
Elementary Teacher - Scholars Academy
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Clinical Director
Garden Prairie, IL, US
Camelot Education

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read