Education

On PBS, Two ‘Frontline’ Reports and a ‘TED Talks’ Special on Education

By Mark Walsh — September 13, 2016 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

PBS’s Spotlight Education week continues Tuesday night with a doubleheader: “Frontline” and “TED Talks: Education Revolution.” And the “Frontline” episode has two separate education stories, so it’s three for the price of one.

“Frontline” is up first at 9 p.m. Eastern time (check local listings) with segments titled “A Subprime Education” and “The Education of Omarina.”

The first is “Frontline”'s latest report on the for-profit college industry, and it couldn’t be more timely. Correspondent Martin Smith starts the report by recapping key elements of his 2010 “Frontline” episode, “College Inc.” This was a time when a for-profit institution such as the University of Phoenix was opening campuses like Subway was opening sandwich shops.

But that 2010 report detailed the problems that were encroaching on the industry, including interviews with nursing graduates of one for-profit college who never set foot in a hospital and were unable to find jobs in the field.

“Since I last reported on the sector, a lot has changed,” says Smith. He recounts the political battle over the U.S. Department of Education’s efforts to crack down on the industry through its “gainful employment” regulations, which eventually took hold last year.

And Smith probes last year’s closing of Corinthian Colleges Inc. and the takeover of some of its campuses by a new, non-profit organization that until then had specialized in debt collection. One homeless man who had borrowed heavily in student loans to attend a Corinthian campus tells “Frontline” that all he got out of his Corinthian education was “a $16,000 T-shirt.”

Smith’s report gives a nod to the more recent news about the closing of another for-profit provider, ITT Technical Institutes, after the Education Department barred it from enrolling new students with federal student loans.

All in all, “A Subprime Education,” which takes up about 40 minutes of the hour,” makes for a good primer on the for-profit college issue.

* * *

The other 20 minutes of this week’s “Frontline” is devoted to “The Education of Omarina,” which is the show’s third visit with Bronx, N.Y., native Omarina Cabrera. Like the for-profit college report, this segment spends some time recapping from two previous reports: In “Middle School Moment,” from 2012, Cabrera was an example of students who have a make-or-break moment in middle school, when troubled students either shape up and get on the path to college or sow the seeds of dropping out of high school.

In “Omarina’s Story,” from 2014, Cabrera made it to the private Brooks School in Andover, Mass. She confronted challenges there and family troubles back home. The new material shows her overcoming those challenges to graduate from Brooks, as well as the dramatic scene when she receives news about her future in higher education.

* * *

TED Talks: Education Revolution,” set for 10 p.m. Eastern time (again, check local listings), is a one-hour special based on the non-profit TED organization’s aim of spreading ideas mainly through short, powerful talks.

The special is based on a single event filmed at The Town Hall Theater in New York City. Hosts Baratunde Thurston and Sara Ramirez introduce five main speakers, as well as three short films and a few other elements.

The first speaker is Sal Khan, the founder of Khan Academy, the online educational content provider. If you didn’t know much about Khan, his short TED Talk here doesn’t do justice to his work, and you would do better to look up his 2011 TED Talk or Sanjay Gupta’s “60 Minutes” profile of Khan Academy in 2013.

But in this fast-moving hour, there’s time for the next element, which is a short film by Greg Whiteley called “Modern Classroom,” which draws on themes about the organization of U.S. high schools from his acclaimed 2015 documentary “Most Likely to Succeed.” The other films are “Freedom University,” about an alternative college program for undocumented students in Georgia, which bars such students from its top public universities; and “Unconscious Bias,” about racial expectations in schools.

The other speakers are Julie Lythcott-Haims, the author of How to Raise an Adult, who speaks about getting parents to treat their children less like bonsai trees and more like wildflowers (see the clip below); Victor Rios, an author and educator who talks about restorative justice; Nadia Lopez, the principal of Mott Hall Bridges Academy, a public middle school in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, N.Y., that gained viral attention last year from the “Humans of New York” photo blog ; and Anna Deavere Smith, the actor, educator, and author, who powerfully performs some segments of her recent work based on interviews with young people in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray in police custody.

“TED Talks: Education Revolution” was probably more powerful for those who saw it in person at The Town Hall theater. As television, it’s a sprightly mix during a sometimes-heavy week of educational programming on PBS.

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


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


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
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
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
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

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 Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP