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M. Night Shyamalan Pens Education Book

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Early educational philanthropy efforts put the Shyamalans on a trajectory shared by many Main Liners: big hopes, miniscule results. Frustrated and confused, Shyamalan set about writing I Got Schooled: The Unlikely Story of How a Moonlighting Movie Maker Learned the Five Keys to Closing America’s Education Gap (Simon & Schuster, 321 pages). 

He describes his own schooling as “a chiropractic adjustment” to his long-held beliefs. He learned what doesn’t work, including small classes, technology for students and teachers with advanced degrees. “Are those things nice to have? Yes,” he says. “But if
the education system is in crisis mode, should we be putting money toward [those things]? No. Here’s why: There is no data to show that they improve schools.”

“Data, data, data”—it’s Shyamalan’s mantra. That’s pretty interesting coming from a guy whose Hollywood career has been built mostly on things we can’t see. Here are his five ways to resolve the inner-city education crisis: 

1. Identify and quickly remove ineffective “roadblock” teachers.

2. Allow principals to focus on inspiring students and improving teachers, instead of being weighed down by administrative duties.

3. Find reforms that not only work, but can be duplicated in other schools.

4. Keep students in school longer to avoid the “summer slump.”

5. Have smaller schools in which to implement everything above.

If reform efforts and charitable donations are directed toward these things, Shyamalan believes the educational gap can indeed be closed. To that end, he’s been meeting with the types of officials in Harrisburg and Philadelphia who introduce appropriate legislation. What is his long-term vision? “One goal is that Philadelphia becomes the first city in the United States to enact all of these things,” he says. “The second is to take the concepts and do it throughout Pennsylvania.” 

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