Comments by Jon Miller

Comment for "Mind the Gap: Why Good Schools are Failing Black Students (54:00 and 59:00)"

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Riveting, important, smart

Nancy Solomon moved to New Jersey's South Orange-Maplewood School District because she wanted her young son to learn in a progressive, racially integrated public school system. But she soon found that the district, which is 60 percent black, faced the same problem that afflicts districts across America. Black and Hispanic students get worse grades, score lower on standardized tests, and go to college in lower numbers than whites. "Mind the Gap" is the record of her brave, resolutely non-dogmatic attempt to understand why. Is it class? Is it culture? Is it low expectations? Is it a misguided approach to discipline? Whatever it is, can it be fixed?

Solomon visits a black preschool and a white preschool. She meets black parents and white parents. She talks to students, administrators, academics and teachers (one of whom takes her on a surreal tour of Columbia High School, guessing the academic level of each classroom by counting the number of blacks and Hispanics.) Each encounter adds a little to our understanding of the problem -- and, eventually, to a clearer sense of what needs to be done. Near the beginning, she says "I've come to one definitive conclusion: It's complicated." And while the evidence she gathers points in many directions, by the end she has built a strong case for the need for teachers who engage, challenge and support their students. "Mind the Gap" deals head-on with one of this country's biggest, most urgent questions. In this balanced and nuanced exploration, Solomon gives us much to chew on and much to discuss.

Comment for "Just Another Fish Story"

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Review of Just Another Fish Story

When I heard this there was a smile on my face the entire time. Its pacing is like a raft trip through rapids: quick overlapping cuts that pull you along and occasionally take your breath away. The Down East voices are wonderful and the jaw harp and fiddle music complement them perfectly. Some of the juxtapositions are hilarious; others provide startling insights about community, life and death. A very special piece.