The Long View
One of the most common unifiers of people all over the world is the desire for a good education. Parents and guardians want this for the children in their lives, and young people want this for themselves as soon as they are old enough to appreciate its worth. Many countries, including Denmark, Finland, England, France, Australia, and Canada constitutionally guarantee the right to a free public education. In the U.S., however, the public education system too often perpetuates inequalities, based on race and class.
The Long View brings forward the work of community organizing, a process in which people come together over a shared interest to build collective power and influence change, as one of the most effective ways people without wealth can exercise power to improve their public schools—and sustain that improvement over time. There is a lot of media attention paid to what isn’t working in public schools, but not enough to looking at what conditions create high-functioning public schools or the systemic factors that contribute to struggling schools.
The Long View provides a look at two public high schools in the same East Oakland neighborhood. One is a high-functioning school where educators, parents, community members, and administrators came together with a vision and have worked to sustain it; and another, where these conditions are not present. The film sets this story within the context of race and class, where residents in the more affluent—and predominantly white—Oakland hills have been able to control the circumstances of their children’s education to a far greater degree than those without political and social power. Both communities care deeply about education. The differences are in circumstances and resources—not in desire. The Long View, however, is a story of hope. No one gives up in this film, and through this persistence we see a pathway towards positive change.
It has been inspiring for me to learn about and document how community organizing in public education is one of the most effective strategies to reduce inequality and broaden democracy. The vision, struggle, and perseverance of parents, students, educators, and organizers in The Long View and my previous film, A Community Concern, show the hope and the possibility for a more just public education system and society.
Films capture a moment and allow viewers to reflect on other peoples' experiences and their own situations—to see what is similar, what is different, and to explore a path forward. My hope is that in viewing The Long View—and in learning about the experience of parents, students, and educators in Oakland—you’ll find inspiration and information to support your own local efforts for quality public education.