'Making the Grade' gets excellent marks

April 02, 1991|By David Zurawik

MPT is making good public affairs television with "Making the Grade," which airs at 8 tonight on MPT (Channels 22 and 67).

The show, reported and produced by John Rydell, looks at several innovative educational programs that seem to be working in Montgomery and Prince George's counties and Baltimore City.

The opening segment, about a program for troubled teens in Montgomery County, is a piece that producers at Baltimore's network affiliates might want to watch to see how much more can be done than what they sometimes deliver.

Rydell and company capture moments of intimacy, which are both illuminating and moving, between teens and their parents, teens andtheir counselors, teens and the interviewer. Getting one or two such moments on tape can be a matter of luck. But it takes patience and a commitment to dig beneath the surface to get as many of these moments as Rydell gets.

And Rydell reports; he does not merely celebrate. After he shows and tells what's good about the programs, he asks about their failures. He offers context, too. For example, he points out that one reason Montgomery County can offer such a program for troubled teens is that it is one of nation's wealthier counties.

"Making the Grade" reminds us that educational programs are only as good as the people -- the teachers and the students -- in them.

Blacks and war

PBS' "Frontline" examines black America's response to the gulf war tonight at 9 on MPT (Channels 22 and 67) in "Black America's War."

The program will open with an 18-minute report on black participation in the war and reaction to it, followed by a town hall meeting taped last week in Philadelphia. Panelists at the meeting included the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Hodding Carter.

A spokesman for "Frontline" said yesterday that the producers found blacks three times more opposed than whites to the war and overwhelmingly more concerned about the government addressing social problems in the United States.

The show was not available for preview.

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