IMDb > "Frontline" Dropout Nation (2012)

"Frontline" Dropout Nation (2012)

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Frontline: Season 30: Episode 19 -- Witness a high-stakes experiment to rescue students prepared to quit high school without a diploma.


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TV Series:
Original Air Date:
25 September 2012 (Season 30, Episode 19)
Witness a high-stakes experiment to rescue students prepared to quit high school without a diploma. | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
Crash Dive See more (1 total) »


 (Episode Cast)
Sarah Childress ... Herself / Reporter
Arun Rath ... Himself / Reporter

Episode Crew
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Frank Koughan 

Produced by
Raney Aronson .... producer
Ken Druckerman .... executive producer
David Fanning .... executive producer
Missy Frederick .... producer
Anneka Jones .... co-executive producer
Lisa Kalikow .... co-producer
Azmat Khan .... associate producer
Frank Koughan .... producer
Michael Mezaros .... post producer
Sarah Moughty .... coordinating producer
Robin Parmelee .... coordinating producer
Arun Rath .... producer
Michelene Starnadori .... line producer
Michael Sullivan .... executive producer
Banks Tarver .... executive producer
Kevin Vargas .... producer
Original Music by
John Dragonetti 
Cinematography by
Jaron Berman 
Jeremy Gould 
Film Editing by
Fanny Lee 
Production Management
Kevin Fogarty .... post-production supervisor
Varonica Frye .... unit manager
Anna Haynes .... production manager
Liz Hodes .... production manager
Sound Department
Brian Albritton .... sound supervisor
J.R. Rodriguez .... sound mixer
Jim Sullivan .... sound mixer
Camera and Electrical Department
Jaron Berman .... cinematographer
Wolfgang Held .... additional camera operator
Pierre Meunier .... additional camera operator
Barry Strickland .... gaffer
Editorial Department
Michael H. Amundson .... post-production editor
Phil Bennett .... managing editor
Mark Dugas .... post-production editor
Jim Ferguson .... post-production editor
Eric Gulliver .... assistant editor
John MacGibbon .... promotions editor
Megan McGough .... post-production coordinator
Lucas Mumford .... post-production coordinator
Marlon Singleton .... additional editing
Emiliano Styles .... assistant editor
Louis Wiley Jr. .... editorial consultant
Music Department
Martin Brody .... composer: theme music
Mason Daring .... composer: theme music
Other crew
Sam Bailey .... multimedia director
Carla Borras .... production secretary
Jim Bracciale .... series manager
Eric Brass .... legal
Jason Breslow .... research assistant
Ariel Carson .... post production assistant
Alejandra Chavero .... translator
Ernest Coaxum .... logger
Gianna DeGiulio .... contracts manager
Brittany Djie .... production assistant (as Brittany Djie Mills)
Rose Donnelly .... production assistant
Greg Duran .... rights and clearances coordinator
Mike Etlinger .... post production assistant
Talya Feldman .... compliance manager
Jay Fialkov .... legal
Janice Flood .... legal
Chris Fournelle .... broadcast director
Andrew Golis .... media director
Doron Hagay .... logger
Diane Hebert-Farrell .... publicist
Pamela Johnston .... audience director
Amy Kane .... logger
Scott Kardel .... legal
Christopher Kelleher .... secretary
Katie Lanning .... editorial secretary
Jenny Lee .... logger
Edward Thomas Liguori .... technical manager
Tim Mangini .... broadcast director
Emily McNamara .... contracts manager
Alicia A. Murphy .... rights and clearances supervisor
Sean Murphy .... utility
Lisa Palone .... content manager
Tobee Phipps .... business manager
Alex Pullen .... office manager
Justin Revis .... production assistant
Bill Rockwood .... developer
Sandy St. Louis .... manager
Nathan Tobey .... coordinator
Chris Caesar .... special thanks
Jaime Castaneda .... special thanks
Laura Jeffery .... special thanks
Victor Okoli .... special thanks
Mark White .... special thanks
Series Cast
These people are regular cast members. Were they in this episode?

Will Lyman ... Series narrator

Series Crew
These people are regular crew members. Were they in this episode?
Directed by
Brent E. Huffman 
Katerina Monemvassitis 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Ly Chheng  developer

Produced by
Marsha Bemko .... associate producer
Katerina Monemvassitis .... producer
Cinematography by
Emmett Wilson III 
Production Management
Grant Viklund .... assistant production manager
Sound Department
Donna Bertaccini .... location sound mixer (multiple episodes)
Michael Keenan .... location sound mixer (multiple episodes 1997-)
Editorial Department
Nishant Radhakrishnan .... assistant editor (2000-)
David Waletzky .... assistant editor
Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

114 min
Sound Mix:


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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful.
Crash Dive, 28 April 2013
Author: tieman64 from United Kingdom

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Fascinating and tragic, "Dropout Nation" attempts to look at the dropout crisis facing American high schools. One school, Sharpstown High School in Houston, is our focus, a school which was once mockingly labelled the "dropout factory".

The documentary revolves around a small cluster of students, all of whom are at risk of dropping out. Each find themselves battling various social, economic and psychological issues, which together with the Sharpstown staff they attempt to overcome. Much of the film watches as support staff and teachers make thankless, Herculean efforts to get these kids across the finish line, often to no avail. One teacher, Brandi Brevard, a short haired woman, feisty and strong willed, is particularly interesting to watch.

Unsurprisingly, most of the suffering students live in poverty, have broken families and have little social support. Many are bright and quick-witted. Optimism and willpower help keep their heads above the water for some time, but eventually their environment's win. Suffocated, they drop out. The teachers cross boxes and watch them disappear.

Late in the film we're introduced to several special programmes initiated by Sharpstown in an effort to help failing students. Other programmes have a more sinister edge. They're designed to fudge numbers, hand out easy diplomas and convey the illusion that students are doing better than they really are. It's number manipulation. Paper trail trickery. Later we see "diploma mills". For around $300, we learn, they will give a quick test and then provide a diploma.

"There are no throwaway kids," the school principal says, but moments later his optimism collapses: "We're not going to be able to save every one of them." For every teacher who praises and supports a student in the documentary, there's another who lays the guilt and blame on thick.

One of the school workers claims that 70 percent of the problems they deal with from students are external to academics. The film makes clear the tremendous amount of strength needed by teachers to help these kids, but its overall point is pessimistic; the work of these teachers has little influence on the big picture. Depressingly, the few kids who graduate end up joining the Army. They have few other options.

Some of the kids followed are more interesting than others. Consider Sparkle ("I don't wanna talk about my life, because I don't wanna cry in front of all these people"), who seems smart and self-aware, but who eventually drops off the radar. When an administrator tries to tell Sparkle — a Katrina refugee who moved from New Orleans to Houston — that being a student needs to be her most important job, she responds that she needs to "make sure I can lay somewhere every night. Make sure I can eat every day. That's my job". If there's any lesson to be learnt from "Dropout Nation", it's that improving the educational system cannot be separated from improving society as a whole, no matter how hard some of the best people try.

Ironically, mega banks like J.P Morgan Chase – recently handed the reigns to banking system in the bulldozed country of Iraq – are the chief donors to Sharpstown (though the school is still in debt). Follow the money, and it's the very organisations that brutalise these kids, that toss them pennies to stay afloat just a little longer.

8.5/10 - Interesting. Worth one viewing.

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