High School Ii

High School (1968), Frederick Wiseman’s second film, avoided overt editorializing but clearly indicted the authoritarianism, banality, and mediocrity of American public education, as exemplified by a typical high school in Pennsylvania. Twenty-six years later, Wiseman investigated the more ethnically diverse Central Park East Secondary School in Spanish Harlem, and High School II (1994), three times as long as the original, offers an inspiring brief for the virtues of progressive education. Whether the topic under discussion is the Rodney King verdict, the practical complications of teenage parenting, the structure of literature courses, or individual student performances, the interactions between students, teachers, and parents mostly seem like models of intelligent and enlightened behavior. 220 min. (JR)

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