November 15th, 2005

WATCH: The Turnaround Specialist Series

This four-part series follows one former superintendent turned principal’s ambitious reform efforts at one urban middle school in Richmond, Virginia.

Parke Land is facing the biggest challenge of his career. After 31 years as a principal in some of Virginia’s top performing suburban public high schools, Land has moved to the inner city to try his hand at ‘turning around’ a struggling middle school.

Boushall Middle School in Richmond, Virginia, has a failure rate of nearly 50% in reading. Three out every four students live in poverty, and teachers say that discipline is their biggest problem. Boushall is exactly what Land was looking for when he signed up one year ago for Virginia’s “Turn Around Specialist Program”.

This series has received a Silver Plaque, Emmy nomination, and a Cine Golden Eagle Award.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

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.


PodcastA Roundtable On Fixing Schools

What does it take to turn around a struggling school? John Merrow sits down with three ‘turnaround specialists’ to find out. Listen to the story.

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I just had a chance to view your turnaround series. I was planning to dip into the first installment to get a flavor of it and ended up watching every minute of all four segments. It was a really devastating, clear eyed portrait. I was particularly struck by Land’s point that it’s one thing to deal with students from difficult circumstances, but another to deal with difficult kids in larger numbers. It confirms many of my doubts about the experts who say that if only teachers worked harder, they could quickly turnaround these very difficult schools.

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