This program was made by possible by support from the Annenberg, The Eli and Edythe Broad, Bill & Melinda Gates, William and Flora Hewlett and Wallace Foundations.
Paul Vallas has spent most of his first year in New Orleans doing what could be called ‘rescue work.’ It seems as if he’s had no choice: many of the 12,000 students in the district are one, two and sometimes three years behind.
This begs the question: what’s happening in the early grades, where the foundation for learning is built? Are first graders learning to read with comprehension? Because if they aren’t, they’re likely to become part of the cycle of failure for years to come—and Vallas will be doing ‘rescue work’ forever.
In this episode, we chose three of Vallas’ elementary schools at random, took over some first grade classrooms and had children read from a book they’d never seen. The results were surprising and moving.
(Originally aired June 17, 2008)
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