- Atheists sue to remove ‘Ground Zero Cross’ from 9/11 museum
- Bishop in Aleppo: ‘We Christians live in fear in Syria’
- Oscar Pistorius vomits during graphic testimony
- Toronto Mayor Rob Ford flubs daylight saving time advice: ‘Turn your clocks back’
- Americans don’t support sending U.S. troops to Ukraine
- Florida lawmakers move to wipe corrupt ‘Boss Hogg’ town from map
- N.C. math whiz to unveil secret of March Madness picks
- An appealing offer: Chiquita merges with Fyffes to make world’s largest banana firm
- Amnesty International says Syria guilty of war crimes for food blockade
- Mitch McConnell on beating tea party: ‘We are going to crush them’
MOVIE REVIEW: ‘The Providence Effect’
Chronicling the incredible success of Providence St. Mel, a school on Chicago’s decrepit west side, “The Providence Effect” comes off as more a gauzy 90-minute infomercial for the school than a real examination of its methods and strategies for success.
Located in the heart of a city with a long-broken public education system, Providence St. Mel emphasizes discipline in the classrooms, hard work from its students and holding teachers accountable for their successes and failures. As a result of the get-tough approach emphasized by founder and president Paul J. Adams III, the school boasts a 100 percent college admission rate. Over the past seven years, half of the students have been accepted to top-tier universities.
It’s an intriguing and inspiring story: Mr. Adams believes that education is the only sure path out of poverty and we are condemning generations of children to the poorhouse by failing to impart that message. The problem is doubly bad in inner-city areas like Chicago’s west side, where predominantly minority groups of children languish well below the nation’s average for educational achievement.
The teachers and principals at Providence St. Mel obviously are doing something right: After they took over a failing public school, test scores jumped from the ninth percentile to the 44th, no mean feat. However, we never really see how the school manages to accomplish this. We see snippets of students going about their work and are treated to a taste of the discipline imposed on them, but we never see most of the obstacles the school has to overcome.
For instance, it’s hinted that teacher unions have made life more difficult for the school. This is unsurprising: The Providence St. Mel formula is based largely on holding teachers accountable for their students’ success, and unions are apt to resist efforts to hold their members accountable for achievement.
We’re never shown any of these struggles, however. If unions are really a problem, it would make sense to show the audience just how they adversely impact the lives of the students their members should be serving.
Another area that surely impacts the students is life at home. The students who come to Providence St. Mel are, one would guess, blessed with some sort of support at home that many of their peers lack. Parents get only the briefest of mentions, however, and there’s no real examination of how these students’ after-school hours differ from those of their less fortunate friends.
It’s a shame because there are real lessons to be learned here and elsewhere. Instead of looking into these lessons, “The Providence Effect” is content to celebrate the success of the school without really exploring the reasons underlying it.
TITLE: “The Providence Effect”
RATING: PG (some mild thematic elements)
CREDITS: Directed by Rollin Binzer
RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes
WEB SITE: http://www.theprovidenceeffect.com/
MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS
About the Author
- BEYOND HOLLYWOOD: Poking fun at blaxploitation
- MOVIES/BUNCH: A year of hits... and misses (mostly hits)
- 'Avatar' rising
- Blu-ray for everyone
- MOVIE REVIEW: 'Avatar'
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- CURL: Today's GOP really is Reagan's 'Big Tent' party
- As Crimea falls, Obama takes Key Largo golf vacation, Biden hits Virgin Islands
- Mitch McConnell on beating tea party: 'We are going to crush them'
- SAUERBREY: Taxing Marylanders until they flee
- Russia besieges Crimea as U.S. seeks diplomacy; Putin remains undeterred by Obama's sanctions
- Investigators puzzle: How does a 777 jetliner just disappear into thin air?
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again