Current State of Public Education Examined in School of Education Quality of Life Series

March 22, 2018

On Tuesday, March 6, 2018, Sandria Parson’s film, Passion to Teach, was screened in the School of Education. Geared to an audience of educators and those interested in the reform efforts, this documentary explored the teaching profession, asking a fundamental research question:  How do courageous, skillful teachers teach from the heart, despite a disheartening top-down reform system? After the viewing, a panel of four educational experts led a dynamic discussion of the film, exploring with audience members, the political pressures facing public school teachers in a generative, thought-provoking manner. Panelists included:  Dr. Kristen Antoine-Morse, an LSU alum, who is a K-12 Science Education/STEM Specialist in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System as well as the Cofounder/CEO of the nonprofit, BELOVED Community, Ms. Robin Atwood, Director of the Mississippi World Class Teaching Project located at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg and Dr. Tynisha Meidl, Co-Director Teacher Education at St. Norbert College in DePere, Wisconsin. Providing a three state perspective, the panel discussion is curated by local news personality, Jim Engster. Baton Rouge, LA - Recently, the Directors of LSU’s School of Education’s Writing Project and Curriculum Theory Project collaborated in order to bring two evocative educational documentaries to LSU. Through the College of Human Sciences and Education’s Quality of Life Series, an initiative created by Dean Damon P.S. Andrew, the School of Education addressed the current state of public education. The Quality of Life Series emulates the College’s mission of making “our world a better place to live. Our students and faculty are committed to improving quality of life across the lifespan and are leaders in their fields, helping solve complex human, social, and information issues.”

On Thursday, March 15, 2018, a special screening of Night School a documentary which chronicles life for adult learners in Indianapolis, IN, a city with one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the country, was screened. Andrew Cohn's documentary follows the journey of three adult learners’ individual paths to return to high school and earn a diploma. Situated against the backdrop of life challenges and the broader systemic roadblocks faced by many low-income US citizens, the film event was a powerful experience for attendees. After the viewing, Andrew Cohn, the film’s director, addressed the audience. Cohn is an Emmy-award winning documentary filmmaker from Los Angeles, California. His most recent film, Night School, premiered at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival and was supported by a MacArthur grant.

This proposal to view these two films represents the collaborative efforts between two vital School of Education projects:  the Curriculum Theory Project, created in 1995 and the LSU Writing Project, a site of the National Writing Project, first established on the LSU campus in 1985. Both Bach and Sulentic Dowell worked on submitting the School of Education’s proposal for the College of Human Sciences and Education’s Quality of Life.Both documentary films addressed the current context of public education, particularly applicable to the urban issues faced in the Greater Baton Rouge metroplex. Associate Dean and Director of the School of Education’s Curriculum Theory Project, Dr. Jackie Bach expressed, “Both films explored innovative solutions to addressing students’ very real educational needs.” In addition, Dr. Margaret-Mary Sulentic Dowell, Professor and Director of the LSU Writing Project, commented, “It is important that the School of Education at LSU provide opportunities to both inform the public about current issues and questions facing public both locally and on a national scale and provide forums for discussion of the complex matters facing public education.”

Dr. Neil Mathews, director of the School of Education commented, ““The Quality of Life Lecture Series infused the School of Education’s faculty and students with a lively discussion about the role and reality of public education in America today.  These outstanding films portrayed two very different environments for teaching and student learning.  I want to thank the many contributors and sponsors for making this lecture series an annual event for the School of Education.”


About SOE
The LSU School of Education (SOE) offers graduate and undergraduate programs in Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership and Research, and Counseling, including two completely online master’s programs. SOE offers a range of professional and academic degree programs that focus on preparing students for careers in education, research, policy formation and implementation, as well as program oversight. The School’s mission is to prepare P-12 educational professionals to be leaders, practitioners, and scholars knowledgeable in contemporary educational issues. SOE is part of the College of Human Sciences & Education.  

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About CHSE
The College of Human Sciences & Education (CHSE) is a nationally accredited division of Louisiana State University. The college is comprised of the School of Education, the School of Kinesiology, the School of Leadership & Human Resource Development, the School of Library & Information Science, the School of Social Work, and the University Laboratory School. These combined schools offer 8 undergraduate degree programs, 18 graduate programs, and 7 online graduate degree and/or certificate programs, enrolling more than 1,900 undergraduate and 1,120 graduate students. The College is committed to achieving the highest standards in teaching, research, and service and is committed to improving quality of life across the lifespan.

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