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Video: "Whatever It Takes" PBS Premiere Tonight

ScreenHunter_06 Mar. 29 22.47 For two years I've been telling you about this project and at long last "Whatever It Takes," a documentary about a rookie principal (and former Saks Fifth Avenue buyer) who started a school in the South Bronx five years ago is getting its broadcast debut -- tonight at 10 pm Eastern on the PBS non-fiction series "Independent Lens."  Do yourself a big favor and check it out.

What makes the documentary stand out to me is Ed Tom, the Asian American principal whose ferocious commitment keeps things going, and the fact that this is a district school (now in its 5th year) not a charter or contract school.  

Principal Tom's favorite education movie is Remember The Titans, especially the scene where, playing a black football coach, Denzel Washington tells his white counterpart not to coddle the black players. 

He says he sees himself as a Christian and as an educator, not as an Asian, and that it doesn't take the black and brown kids he leads very long to see him for what he is as a human rather than the novelty of an Asian male running an urban high school.  

Of course, not all of the kids in the film have made it through. And not everyone will agree with Tom's approval of the things the NYC DOE is doing. But you can't argue with his determination.  

Principal Tom is currently writing a big new proposal to start a "college university campus" to offer specialized classes to small schools kids who otherwise might miss out on electives and introductions to fields of interest. 

Previous posts about this project here, here.

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