The Story+Education+Equity (S.E.E.) Initiative is a wake-up call to parents, educators and policy makers across the country. At its core are two documentaries that follow the behind-the-scenes struggle for the future of public, community-based education—which is seemingly up for grabs. Through screenings, forums and other engagement opportunities, Active Voice Lab is designing a strategy so that these and other stories can help:
> Expand parent engagement and youth organizing
> Broaden coalition building
> Create new opportunities for informed expression from stakeholders who are commonly left out of policy decisions
Funded by the Ford Foundation and implemented by the Schott Foundation for Public Education, the two films complement each other in focus and scope:
Backpack Full of Cash, by Sarah Mondale and Vera Aronow, reveals the pitched battle in Philadelphia and other cities as for-profit marketeers swoop in to capitalize on struggling school systems. Rich with data and characters, it contrasts the current trend toward metrics-driven, for-profit education with student-centered, more effective, and enthusiastically public models.
The Newark Project, by Ouida Washington and Derek Koen, picks up on the themes of decision-making and authentic public engagement, by focusing on the parents, students, and school advocates of Newark as they lead a movement to regain control of their school system.
Together, these powerful stories present a counter-narrative to the increasingly common and contrived refrain that all public schools are failing. Scaffolded by rigorous research and partnerships with leading experts, this initiative aims to help target audiences connect and take action on behalf of all children—through a lens of social and racial justice.