Station does its homework

December 14, 1990|By David Zurawik | David Zurawik,Sun Television Critic

WBAL-TV (Channel 11) deserves points just for making its "Stories of Success" special, which airs at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Remember back in September when it seemed as if almost every television station and network was launching special reports and series on education? So have you seen any follow-up since the initial publicity?

There hasn't been much. CBS, for example, promised in the fall an ongoing commitment to education programming. But now CBS says they won't be following through because of the downturn in the economy.

"Stories of Success" continues Channel 11's Great Expectations series on education. The one-hour special, hosted by anchorman Rod Daniels, looks at five Maryland residents who are trying to make a difference.

They are: Betty Gordon, who volunteers to teach illiterate adults two nights a week at the Learning Bank; Alice Evans, who taught in the state's last one-room schoolhouse; Dr. Spencer Holland, founder of a program to get men to volunteer to teach and serve as role models for black schoolboys; Bob Bonnell, chairman of a program that offers incentives to keep high school pupils working toward a diploma, and David Simon, director of the Baltimore School for the Arts.

Only three of the five profiles were available for preview, and those were in unfinished condition. Because of that, a definitive call can't be made on the quality of the show.

But several things were apparent. The stories are inspirational: It's possible, for example, to actually see the good Ms. Gordon is doing on the faces of her adult students. And the reports go beyond the one-dimensional gumdrops such public affairs programs can all too easily become. The report on Dr. Holland's Project 2000 gives voice to those who criticize the male orientation of Dr. Holland's program and also relays Dr. Holland's spirited defense.

"Stories of Success" is public affairs television with its heart and commitment in the right place.

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