Winner 2009

Mind the Gap: Why Good Schools Are Failing Black Students

Nancy Solomon

Independent producer/reporter Nancy Solomon probes the central question of Mind the Gap: Why Good Schools Are Failing Black Students through a detailed examination of a diverse high school in suburban New Jersey. Columbia High School features a nearly equal demographic split between white and minority students, yet it’s the kind of place where a teacher can play “guess the level” just by peering into a given classroom. A room of predominantly white faces means a high level or honors class; a room with mostly black students suggests mediocre to lower level learners. These striking differences prompted Solomon’s interest in investigating the stark inequalities that exist even in some of America’s better school systems. Solomon embeds herself in Columbia High, displaying her curiosity and perspective without ever stealing the show. She has seemingly unlimited access here, interviewing a diverse cross-section of students, teachers and administrators, while capturing first hand just what goes on in the classroom. Rather than positing hard and fast answers, Mind the Gap plays as radio ethnography, putting a particular face on an ongoing educational injustice, and prompting many further questions. For shining a nuanced light on an underexposed site of racial inequity, a Peabody Award goes to Mind the Gap: Why Good Schools Are Failing Black Students.


Producer/Writer/Reporter: Nancy Solomon. Editor: Alex Blumberg.