With his 2010 documentary film Waiting for ‘Superman’, director Davis Guggenheim unleashed a vigorous, trenchant examination of the failures of the American education system. While the film earned praise and sparked on ongoing debate about our schools, controversy arose over the perception by some that he laid too much of the blame at the feet of teachers — namely, bad teachers being coddled by the powerful unions. But with his new project, TEACH, those educators should be able to more easily embrace his approach.
Hosted by Queen Latifah, whose mother was a teacher, the two-hour special airing at 8pm tonight on CBS explores the question of what it takes to be a teacher by following four public-school teachers who are making a difference. Viewers will visit the classrooms of: Matt Johnson, a fourth-grade teacher at McGlone Elementary School in Denver; Shelby Harris, a seventh- and eight-grade math teacher at Kuna Middle School in Kuna, Idaho; Joel Laguna, a sophomore AP World History teacher at Garfield High School in Los Angeles; and Lindsay Chinn, a freshman algebra teacher at MLK Early College in Denver. TEACH will showcase how they used tenacity, innovation and passion to make it through the turbulent 2012-’13 school year.
Joining Latifah in celebrating educators will be other celebrities such as Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men), Anna Faris (Mom), NBA star Paul George, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rashida Jones and Jerry O’Connell (We Are Men). All right, so almost all of those names have CBS connections (Jones is developing a comedy for The CW, which is owned by CBS), but let’s not be too cynical here. Teachers have a hard job, and while there certainly are bad ones, you could say that about any line of work, right?
Perhaps Friday night isn’t the ideal time to schedule a school-themed special, but here’s hoping the right people see it.
Photo: Credit: Don Holtz