Lesson Not Learned: “America To Me” Documents Why Race Has Everything To Do With Education
Oak Park and River Forest High School garnered national attention a few years ago for hosting a controversial Black Lives Matter assembly that excluded non-black students.
Now, the school is the focus of a new documentary series on racial inequality in schools called “America To Me.” In the trailer, one person of color says “everything is made for white kids. This school is made for white kids, because this country was made for white kids.”
As The Atlantic suggests, the school should be a success. But what’s happening down the halls and between its walls is another story.
It’s in the liberal village of Oak Park, Illinois, where (as [director Steve James’s] narration reveals) community leaders in the 1950s and ’60s resisted white flight and redlining to keep the area integrated. The white residents who left were mostly older and conservative, James explains, while the white people who moved in were younger and liberal, hopeful that they could play a part in “an American experiment in true diversity.”
So if this school — with its diverse student body and 94 percent graduation rate — isn’t getting things right, the show seems to ask, which school is?
We’ll meet the docuseries director, a recent graduate of Oak Park River and Forest High School, and two education experts to talk about how focusing on one school in one community is strengthening a national conversation about education and equity.
In the meantime, here’s a guide on racial inequality in education across the U.S., from ProPublica.