The New Public | 2012
In fall 2006, former DJ, point guard and educator turned first-time principal James O'Brien opened a public high school in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, where 1/3 of residents live below the poverty line and the graduation rate is 40%. With infectious optimism, O'Brien and his staff of eight undertook a new and unconventional approach -- emphasizing strong individual support and inquiry-based instruction with a focus on arts and media. Initially, the buzz from the community was that this was a dream come true. But conflicts arose when old realities surfaced. Filmed over four years,we follow the journey of students, parents, and educators striving to reconcile idealism with reality and make a difference in the futures of young people whose lives are stark representations of our country's education and opportunity gaps. Through the prism of one inner-city public school, we witness complexities faced by urban public schools and communities everywhere.