Winner 2000

School Sleuth: The Case of an Excellent School

Learning Matters, Inc. and The Merrow Report, New York

What constitutes excellence in education? Based on years of reporting in schools all over the country, School Sleuth: The Case of an Excellent School probes five aspects of schooling in its search for excellence-safety, the curriculum, the physical environment, the adults in the building, and the school’s sense of purpose. This pragmatic piece is framed in a clever and entertaining way. Using parody of film noir, veteran journalist and former teacher John Merrow becomes a “school sleuth,” a private detective hired by a mother to solve “The Case of the Excellent School.” These jocular scenes are sprinkled throughout the program and help bring home a serious point: there are many more ways to evaluate schools than examining test scores and college acceptance rates. In creating these informative, appealing and out-of-the-ordinary vignettes executive producer John Merrow works with writer/producer John D. Tulenko, associate producers Tania Brief, Alexis Kessler, and Lisa McHenry and director Simon Verlaque. Creatively presented against a backdrop of vouchers and choice, in what should be required viewing for schools and parents, a Peabody Award is presented to School Sleuth: The Case of an Excellent School for its straightforward, witty approach to imparting its crucial message to the general public.