Beyond the Bricks is a documentary created by Washington Koen Media with the goal of promoting solutions for one of America’s critical problems in education: the consistently low performance of black males in the school system. The film follows African-American students Shaquiel Ingram and Erick Graham as they struggle to stay on track in the Newark, NJ public school system. Fifteen year-old Shaquiel is a bright student who enjoys writing poems and playing the trumpet, but finds himself a ward of the court system when he can longer take the “chaos” of his local high school and stops going to class. Erick, a nineteen year-old high school drop out, realizes that the freedom he sought from his former daily school routine is not all it’s cracked up to be. Unemployed and unable to find a job, he spends most of his days bored at home and watching TV. In danger of becoming just another couple of statistics on the “school to prison pipeline”, the boys find a lifeline with support from compassionate community leaders and alternative education programs that address the root causes of their problems with staying focused in school.
The movie also stars: Newark Mayor Corey Booker, Schott Foundation President and CEO Dr. John Jackson, Dr. Pedro Noguera, Dr. Ivory Toldson, and others, and it gives their thoughtful commentary as they weigh in on three areas that have a major impact on the success (or failure) of black boys in school: public policy, the public school system and the role of the larger community.
The press kit did not include any information about when the film is going to launch, nor did it come with screen shots, but it looks interesting.