April 4th, 2005

Society of Students

Nearly forty gangs claim the Boyle Heights neighborhood in East LA as home turf. Beginning in elementary school, students who work hard are ridiculed by their peers and labeled a ’school girl’ or a ’school boy’. The district’s one high school has more than 5,000 students and a graduation rate of 58%.

Can one more gang, this one started by a teacher, counteract the negative influences? Four years ago teacher Janis Hiura and her class created SOS -Society of Students–at Breed Street Elementary, in the heart of Boyle Heights. Using unique lingo and rituals, SOS tries to give its 1st through 5th grade members the skills they need to survive in the community and in school.

We take a look at this remarkable gang of kids.

(Originally aired April 4, 2005)

This program is made possible by the following funders:
Grade Level Reading Fund of the Tides Foundation, The Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

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