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Learning to Survive

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Running with the Bulls

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Learning to Survive

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Living on the Fault-Line

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Beating the Bottom Line

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Link to Episode 3 Transcript
Link to Ernie Cortez Interview Transcript
Link to Patricia Clark Interview Transcript
Link to Episode Three Credits

“The biggest thing I’ve learned from students is that they want to be feel that what they’re asked to do in school is worth doing, has connections with what they want for the future, is meaningful work. We cannot afford not to do this. If we don’t design a new way of learning, of educating and training our youth, of engaging them in the community, then we’re going to get the [damaged] society we deserve.”

    –Patricia Clark, creator and director of an innovative career academy system used in some of Oakland, California’s high schools.


Hedrick Smith brings viewers some encouraging news about public education that is successfully preparing youth and retraining adults to provide the backbone of our 21st Century workforce. Innovative and committed teachers, students, principals, and activists provide refreshing proof that all children are capable of learning and that displaced working people can reconnect to the economy by retooling their skills in the classroom.

Learning to Survive begins with a rare look at education in Shanghai, China, where Smith meets bright young Chinese students who aren’t interested in producing cheap textiles -- they are ambitious, modern, and ready to compete in the global economy. China’s strategy to leap from Mao to the global marketplace in one generation relies heavily on a vast network of academically tough career high schools. Smith’s portrait of two Chinese schools underlines the urgent need to review America’s educational mission.

A junior high school in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas is accepting the challenge to raise education standards and expectations. Once plagued by gangs, truancy and poor academic performance, the school made a dramatic turn-around by joining the Alliance Schools Initiative, lead by community activist Ernie Cortes. This growing movement to reform education is spreading across the Southwest, where new academic and community partnerships are gearing up tens of thousands of young people for the global economy.

In Oakland, California, high schools are banking on a bold restructuring to prepare students for the modern work world. An expanding system of 28 “career academies,” within larger comprehensive high schools, offer courses to get students ready for the challenges they face in today’s workplace. Concentrations include fields like computers, media, engineering, and law, and the program places students in the real working world through paid internships. Learning to Survive profiles the oldest of the academies, the Academy for Health and Bioscience, and director Patricia Clark explains how the school jumped from being an academic disaster to having 90% of its graduates head for college.

Baby Boomers downsized out of their jobs in the Cincinnati, Ohio area are also turning to education. Hedrick Smith explores an innovative program at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College that helps reconnect displaced workers with the competitive 1990s economy. At the center of this model program, which has a remarkable job placement rate of 98%, is strong co-op program with hundreds of local businesses.

Don’t miss Learning to Survive, Episode Three of Surviving the Bottom Line with Hedrick Smith, airing in January on PBS.

[Episode Three Transcript] [Cortes Transcript] [Clark Transcript]
Episode Three Credits]

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