The entertainer Bill Cosby is coming back to television—as the producer of educational programs for the Philadelphia public schools.
Mr. Cosby and the city’s School Reform Commission, which runs the district, have formed a partnership to provide the programs on the district’s cable television station, PSTV, Channel 52.
“He is a warm, caring, very smart, passionate man, and he has an insight for change and implementation,” said Cameron Kline, a spokesman for the school district.
Mr. Cosby, 66, grew up in the city and graduated from Central High School. He received a doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts.
Long known for his philanthropy in the African-American community, Mr. Cosby on May 17 received an award at the NAACP’s celebration in Washington of the 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision.
In his acceptance speech, Mr. Cosby told the audience that “the lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal,” and he criticized some African-Americans for not helping themselves and not actively raising their children. His remarks caused an uproar that has since played out on newspaper editorial pages and elsewhere.
“We would never suggest that any race or class has a monopoly on poor parenting, nor do I believe that this is what Dr. Cosby meant,” said Cecilia Cummings, the executive director of communication services for the Philadelphia schools. “But we have high standards for parents’ involvement in their children’s education.”
The district and Mr. Cosby plan to produce four programs:
- “Bill Cosby Homework Club” will try to motivate students to study and commit themselves to the academic process.
- In “Test Preparation,” the entertainer will record insightful and humorous comments on the process of test-taking.
- “Real Life TV” will explore issues such as school violence, learning differences, homework, and health matters, told through real-life experiences of Philadelphia students, teachers, and families.
- “Community Histories” will aim to inspire Philadelphia students to gather information on the histories of their communities in a city known for its neighborhoods.
A version of this article appeared in the June 09, 2004 edition of Education Week