180 Days: Hartsville

(Rochester, N.Y.) – 180 Days: Hartsville features a small town in rural South Carolina, where the entire town is trying to make an exceptional use of their elementary school system with exceptional results, despite the odds. In 180 Days: Hartsville, experience a year of a Southern town’s efforts to address the urgent demand for reform in American public schools, and watch what happens when the systems that can either fuel or diffuse that reform — bureaucracy, economic opportunity and fixed mindsets — interact and intersect. 180 Days: Hartsville airs Tuesday, March 17, 2015 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV. 

The two-hour special, co-produced by South Carolina ETV (SCETV) and National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC). Co-directors Jacquie Jones and Garland McLaurin, the team behind the Peabody Award-winning documentary 180 Days: A Year Inside an American High School (on-demand) which premiered in 2013, joined SCETV in Hartsville, South Carolina for more than a year. They filmed in two elementary schools struggling with new curriculum standards and maintaining funding, while meeting the needs of individual students. South Carolina ranks 45th in the country in education. The majority of Hartsville residents hover on the poverty line with a median income of less than $30,000 and more than half of the city’s students qualify for free and reduced-price school lunches.

Yet Hartsville is fighting the odds—and winning—with an astonishing 92 percent graduation rate in their city. This is a remarkable achievement considering that one-third of students from low-income families in many states did not graduate despite an increase in the national graduation rate of 80 percent for the class of 2012, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

“With poor children now representing a new majority of public school students, it is more critical than ever that successful models in education be explored to ensure the American dream is attainable for all of our children,” said Jacquie Jones, co- director and executive producer. “Hartsville has proven that if the right forces in a determined community come together to put children first, tangible results will follow.”

The film was funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) as part of American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen.

This program is part of WXXI's American Graduate: Let's Make It Happen Initiative: a public media initiative to stem the dropout crisis by supporting community-based solutions.  Learn more at: http://wxxi.org/grad

Additional Support is Provided by:

Pictured: Principal Julie Mahn with students in front office of Thornwell School of the Arts.

Courtesy of Clevis Harrison

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