Some of the people who've seen Blackboard Wars -- the Oprah Winfrey Network reality series about the effort to fix a New Orleans high school -- are objecting to the depiction of the kids, teachers, and school.
One blog post against the show calls it “Cops” meets “Dangerous Minds,” describing the show as promoting a tired trope about urban teen violence and exploiting poor kids "for ratings and national school reform cred."
To be sure, the decision to invite cameras into John Mac was a controversial one -- not only in the school community -- where 90 percent of kids but only half the teachers signed release forms -- but also within Future Is Now Schools, the nonprofit charged with making things better there. I've written extensively about FIN founder Steve Barr and am no stranger to his strengths and weaknesses as a school reform leader.
But I have to ask, how is Blackboard Wars really all that different underneath it all from This American Life's recent depiction of life at Garfield Harper High School in Chicago, which generated widespread admiration and (so far as I know) very little backlash locally or otherwise?