Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Produced by the Reading Rockets Project of the Washington, D.C., public-television outlet WETA, A Tale of Two Schools focuses on the teachers and administrators of two different public schools, both of which have been singled out as among the worst in their respective communities. The illiteracy rate at Beardon Elementary School in the Mississippi Delta district has been so high that virtually everyone has given up on the place -- everyone, that is, except school superintendent Reggie Barnes, who, with a handful of dedicated teachers, has fought against near-insurmountable odds to bring Bearden up to standard. Meanwhile, Walton Elementary School, populated by children from the "projects" of Houston, TX, has, in five years, gone from being one of the lowest-rated in its district to the lofty level of "exemplary," thanks in great part to the tireless efforts of head teacher Vanesse Kemp and her staff. Although A Tale of Two Schools emphasizes the great progress made by both institutions of learning, the documentary pulls no punches in detailing how far both schools still have to go.