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Lights, Camera, Action: Education Reform

by Holly Quinn Delaware

Article excerpt

How M. Night Shyamalan got schooled in education reform

How did a famous Hollywood director like M. Night Shyamalan come to write a book on closing America’s education gap? The short answer: While location-scouting Philadelphia schools for a movie several years ago, he came face-to-face with the immense disparity between low-income, inner-city schools and privileged suburban schools, and became determined to find a solution.

Our take

5 Keys to Closing Educational Disparities: Could a Movie Director Have the Answers?

Two public schools just four minutes apart, but shockingly different in terms of the educational experience offered to students. M. Night Shymalan’s recent experiences while scouting locations for a movie have piqued his interest in finding a solution for these disparities. Data collection is key to closing education gaps, he says; could a celebrity voice bring closer scrutiny and better outcomes?

Possibly, but even Shymalan’s resources may not be enough to address systemic issues; a scholarship program he set up brought that to light for him. Now, he’s taking a broader approach, focused on data and five keys that he has identified, and which he documents in his book I Got Schooled: The Unlikely Story of How a Moonlighting Movie Maker Learned the Five Keys to Closing America’s Education Gap. The keys: teachers, data collection, small schools, extended school hours and a strong school culture.