PBS to ‘Spotlight Education’ Next Week With Multiple Documentaries and Shows

By Mark Walsh — September 08, 2016 3 min read
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If this post-Labor Day week did not have enough of a back-to-school vibe, just wait a few more days. PBS next week is offering “Spotlight Education,” a full week of documentaries and school-themed episodes of some of its top shows.

The highlights include a documentary about the college paths for two high school graduates from a tough Chicago neighborhood, a Ted Talks show about education, and special school-related episodes of public television stalwarts such as “Frontline,” “NOVA,” and “PBS NewsHour.”

I’ll be posting individual previews of several of next week’s offerings in the days ahead. Here is a rundown of the special programming, with PBS’s scheduled airtimes. (Viewers should check local listings.)

Monday, Sept. 12

“POV: All The Difference” (10 p.m. Eastern time.)

The documentary series “POV” has this offering that follows two high school graduates from Chicago’s tough Engelwood neighborhood as they pursue two very different college paths. This film is one of the highlights of the week.

Tuesday, Sept. 13

“Frontline: A Subprime Education/ The Education of Omarina” (9 p.m. ET)

Public television’s top documentary news show provides two education-related segments in one hourlong segment. The first examines the for-profit education industry, which is even more timely this month as another provider, ITT Technical Institutes, folds up shop. (“Frontline” focuses on the demise of Corinthian Colleges.) The second segment is another update about Omarina Cabrera, a New York City student that “Frontline” has been featuring intermittently since 2012.

“Ted Talks: Education Revolution” (10 p.m. ET)

The famous Ted Talks format invites several well-known educators, including Khan Academy founder Sal Khan, parenting expert Julie Lythcott-Haims, and actor/educator Anna Deveare Smith, to the stage.

Wednesday, Sept. 14

“NOVA: School of the Future” (9 p.m. ET)

The PBS science show provides its take on what is really the future of education, much of which is already happening, in this two-hour episode. The episode examines the “new science of learning.”

Thursday, Sept. 15

“Craft in America: Teachers” (8 p.m. ET)

This show focused on handmade crafts in America devotes an episode to the artists who pass along their knowledge to a younger generation.

“Time for School” (9 p.m. ET)

The latest installment of this longitudinal documentary features five children from five different countries struggling to get a basic education.The film has footage from over a decade, starting in 2003, of the students’ academic careers.

Saturday, Sept. 17

“American Graduate Day” (2 p.m. ET)

This four-hour broadcast from WNET in New York City will feature host Soledad O’Brien highlighting various individuals and organizations dedicated to helping young people stay on track for high school graduation.

“PBS NewsHour Weekend” (Check local listings)

Hari Sreenivasan anchors a special edition of the top PBS news show focusing on ways schools are trying to improve student engagement and performance. (Note: Education Week Video contributes regularly to “PBS NewsHour,” but is not part of this edition.)

* * * *

PBS also has a few more educational offerings for local stations to schedule as they see fit. “Class of ‘27: America Reframed” is a documentary about how several rural communities are working to help their students graduate high school in, yes, 2027; “The Address,” an inspiring and relatively short documentary by Ken Burns about a private school that requires its students to memorize and recite the Gettysburg Address. (It has aired on PBS before, and I reviewed it here); and “Navajo Math Circles,” about a collaboration between some of the country’s top mathematicians and math educators and children and teachers in the Navajo tribe’s education system.

That’s a lot of programming about education for one week. And to PBS’s credit, it airs other education documentaries, and some of these shows cover education throughout the year.

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