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A Different Kind of Educational Crisis

One of the most curious things I learned during the first year of my PhD is that professors had been complaining that students did not know how to write as far back as the early 1900s. Various iterations of perceived crises in students’ lack of writing ability came and went throughout the century. Each generation of professors, it seemed, had some reason to believe that the group they belonged to had been better equipped to put words on a page than the one they were currently teaching. I enjoyed knowing that the headlines about how texting and social media erode students’ writing were just some version of the ongoing professorial belief that the current batch of students was decimating the written word.

Writing is not the only aspect of our education that we are told is in perennial crisis. The news is brimming with stories of educational failures. However, access to education has been steadily rising. According to Statista, in the United States in 1940 only 3.8% of women and 5.5% of men had completed a college degree. That number rose to 34.6% of women and 33.7% of men in 2017. Sadly, alongside increased access to education we’ve had an increase in mistrust of education, with conservative political and media forces often labeling education as liberal brainwashing.

As the new school year starts, I walk into my students’ classroom knowing that there is no real writing crisis but that we do have a crisis: the way in which education is being represented by many forces around the world. This is dangerous territory because if there is anything that will protect you from brainwashing, it is critical thinking and the ability to research and develop your own ideas. That is what most of us in education are teaching students today and what we so desperately need if we’re going to battle the Trump Administration’s penchant for questioning the veracity of anything it doesn’t agree with, no matter how true it may be.

We are Finalists for the Summer 2018 Roy W. Dean Grant

We are thrilled to announce that The Weeping Season is a finalist for the Summer 2018 Roy W. Dean Grant from From the Heart Productions. The grant comes with funds, discounted services, and mentorship from Carole Dean, From the Heart’s president and founder. We are particularly excited to have made it this far because, like our documentary, the Roy W. Dean Grant is a daughter’s way to honor her father’s memory. Carole Dean founded Studio Film & Tape, the first company to collect left over sections of film and sound stock and offer it to independent filmmakers at an affordable cost.

The business boomed, and thanks to Carole’s idea and work, countless indie filmmakers could finally afford to make their films. When her father Roy retired, she invited him to join her at Studio Film & Tape, where he chose to work at the front counter. After he died, she learned that he’d been giving away free stock to needy filmmakers with particularly promising projects. She decided to create a grant in his name, and it has been helping filmmakers bring their films to the screen since 1992. We couldn’t be happier to be in the running for a grant with such a beautiful and personal story, especially given how well the themes and ideas in The Weeping Season connect to the grant’s own origins.

Unearthed Photo of the Month

My father moved around often as a child to meet the demands of my grandmother’s career as a writer and cultural attaché to the Venezuelan embassies in the Americas and Europe. For his last two years of high school, he attended The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey. His fellow classmates were affluent young white men, although a smattering of prosperous light-skinned Latinos like himself were also admitted. They wore suits and ties to class, studying in buildings built to look like the Ivy League colleges where almost all of the school’s graduates would go on to study.

Back in 2006, when my aunt Rima presented me with his 1958 yearbook, I was fascinated by the glittering glamour of it all. These days, I’m more conflicted about my father having been part of this club of one-percenters. I can’t see this image without thinking of the ways in which private schools like this one are part of the reason we have an ever-growing income inequality gap around the world. This is why I’m glad that Dad stands outside the group in this school photo. There he is to the right of the top row, leaning against a brick wall and partially hidden by a tree as he smiles at the camera. I have no idea why he ended up so strangely outside the group, but what I see here is a 17-year-old boy ready to turn the fact that he never quite fit in anywhere into one of his best and most endearing qualities.

Come Watch A Place at the Table at our First Gallery Exhibit

We are thrilled to be having our first gallery exhibit at the east arbor architecture + gallery at 405 Grove Street in East Lansing. We had a wonderful opening on August 31 and the exhibit will be open to visitors from Monday to Friday from 9am-5pm until September 28. Please come and watch our short award-winning documentary about the 2016 Women’s March in this fantastic gallery space.

You Can Watch Teta at the Detroit SheTown Film Festival This Weekend

Our short documentary Teta: A nursing mother tells her story has been selected for its 21st film festival. If you live in or near Detroit, please come and watch the film at the Detroit Shetown Film Festival this Saturday, September 15 at 12pm at Cinema Detroit on 4126 Third Street. We hope to see you there!


As the school year begins in so many places around world, we invite you to use #FilmsForAKinderWorld and #EducationMatters to discuss films, TV shows, and webseries that showcase the value of education and critical thinking.

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