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ETV airs special on public schools

By By Georgia E. Frye / staff writer
Sept. 24, 2003
Mississippi native Morgan Freeman narrates a public television documentary tonight about two public schools fighting for change one of which is in the rural Mississippi city of Sumner.
The documentary focuses on what it takes to teach a child to read in the face of challenges such as uninvolved parents, mediocre teachers and poverty.
Walton Elementary faced many of the same problems as Bearden Elementary. Teachers at Walton said some students didn't know the alphabet, couldn't write their names and didn't know how to open a book.
The documentary was filmed during the 2000-2001 school year and students in both schools have made progress in the past three years.
In Mississippi, programs like the Barksdale Reading Institute, funded by Netscape founder Jim Barksdale, have helped channel money into otherwise poverty-stricken schools.
The documentary also shows that the problem isn't simply a lack of funds. The film also emphasizes the importance of parental involvement. WETA in Washington produced the documentary as part of the Reading Rockets initiative, an attempt to get students interested in reading.
The documentary will air today at 6:30 p.m. on Mississippi Educational Television which locally is WMAW Channel 14. It will also air on Mississippi Public Radio, 88.1 FM, WMAW.
Immediately following the hour-long broadcast on ETV, the Jackson-produced public affairs program "Statewide Live" will host a call-in show dealing with educational issues in Mississippi.