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'Blackboard Wars': Oprah's Education Reality Show Reveals Reform Isn't Always Students-First

On the show and in education reform, students are mere backdrops that fuel exploitative drama.


As an educator in New Orleans, I've been asked dozens of times, "What do you think of Blackboard Wars," the documentary series featured on Oprah's OWN Network about troubled John McDonogh High school.

My first and most enduring reaction to Blackboard Wars is fatigue. I'm simply tired of New Orleans education reform, the spectacle. This is not because the series is not well produced. Without a doubt, Blackboard Wars is gripping television. The show has everything you want in television: an engaging protagonist with a fatal flaw (Principal Dr. Thompson), a damsel in distress (Ms. Cobb), people needing salvation (students), high stakes, community unrest, and love.

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