A note from LouAnne Johnson, bestselling author of Kick-Start Your Class: Academic Icebreakers to Engage Students and Teaching Outside the Box: How to Grab Your Students By Their Brains.
I hope this note finds you well. And I hope you share my belief that it is time to elevate the endless arguments about how to repair our broken public school system into a productive, enlightened and proactive dialogue — a dialogue that involves not just politicians and administrators, but parents, students, teachers, employers and community members who support our public schools.
We know that our country can’t afford to waste more time or money on educational band-aids. But, what can we do? We can use the power of television and social media to make real changes at the grass roots level.
Television has been this country’s most powerful medium for almost 50 years. But we aren’t making the best use of the power of television. We aren’t using that power for the common good. But that is about to change. I’ve been working with Re-Invention Television, LLC, producers in New York City whose other works include “Best Places To Live” and the upcoming “Faces Of Philanthropy” for PBS stations. We are creating a series that will rock the world of public school and harness the power of television on behalf of American public school children who deserve the best this country has to offer.
Our series, “Diary of a School,” will highlight one public school per episode. We’ll meet the real teachers and students, the administrators and parents, and people from the local community. By watching what happens in the classroom, in the lunch room, the gymnasium, on the playground and sometimes, at home – we’ll take an unvarnished 360 degree look inside every facet of public education. We’ll observe the evolution of problems, their causes and their hopeful cures. We’ll witness out of the box thinking, over the top effort and in the moment emotions. All this in hopes that other schools will benefit from these lessons.
“Diary of a School” will break new ground in the reality TV genre — it will entertain viewers while providing insight and new perspectives on an important subject and it will not fabricate drama, or exploit anyone. Unlike most reality television – “Diary of a School” will be substantive, thoughtful and honest. We hope to inspire people to tap into their own creativity and join forces to improve their own communities.
The people on our production team share a passion for improving public education. Of course, you have me, the real life teacher played by Michelle Pfeiffer in the film “Dangerous Minds” and other noted experts on education reform, along with a number of reputable organizations such as Edmodo.com, DonorsChoose.org and AdoptAClassroom.org. ”
Diary of a School” will not be just an incredible television program. It will also be a remarkable social media project. Our goal in working with various online video portals such as YouTube and/or others is to create a conduit for hundreds, even thousands, of schools to post their own viral versions of our weekly series. Imagine allowing people to see what is actually happening in public schools across the land! Obviously, the high interest in education goes far beyond the 52 schools a year we might be able to feature on television.
Our first priority is to create our pilot episode (so everyone can understand what the show is), promote it and deliver it online – while positioning the show for “pick-up” by one of several cable & broadcast networks with whom we’ve spoken.
We believe it’s possible to offer entertainment with integrity. Viewers will find much to like in the series – it will have elements of CBS-TV’s “Undercover Boss” except it will be politicians not bosses who get a quick tutorial on what it’s like in the (school) trenches. The series will also involve celebrities as hosts for each episode, similar to NBC-TV’s “Who Do You Think You Are” – but instead of exploring their family tree, they return to the roots of their own childhood education.
Celebrities are interested in this project. To name just a few: Tony Danza, Joan Severance, Robert Davi, Joanna Cassidy, Tamara Tunie, Jay. O. Sanders, and Evette Rios among others.
We ask you to think about what this country might be like in 10, 20 or 30 years if our public schools continue their downward spiral. We also ask that you help us spread our message of hope and change. Pass the word that “Diary of a School” offers real hope for logical and creative solutions to the problems faced by America’s public schools. And let us know if you want to support our project in some way.
Whether you are part of a giant news, entertainment or broadcast media corporation, an online giant or a start-up, or just a concerned citizen – your interest in our public schools and our future is very important. We appreciate any help you can offer, any synergies or connections you can help us make.
Please consider this the ultimate invitation to add your essence to our “pot of stone soup.” You may offer us just the right vital ingredients to change the lives of so many young people and rock the world of public school — for the betterment of us!
LouAnne Johnson is a former U.S. Navy journalist, Marine Corps officer, high school teacher, and the author of The New York Times bestseller Dangerous Minds (originally My Posse Don’t Do Homework). Find out more at www.louannejohnson.com.