“Teach”: CBS special celebrates educators who are making a difference

With his 2010 documentary film Waiting for ‘Superman’, director Davis Guggenheim unleashed a vigorous, trenchant examination of the failures of the American education system. While the film earned praise and sparked on ongoing debate about our schools, controversy arose over the perception by some that he laid too much of the blame at the feet of teachers — namely, bad teachers being coddled by the powerful unions. But with his new project, TEACH, those educators should be able to more easily embrace his approach.

Hosted by Queen Latifah, whose mother was a teacher, the two-hour special airing at 8pm tonight on CBS explores the question of what it takes to be a teacher by following four public-school teachers who are making a difference. Viewers will visit the classrooms of: Matt Johnson, a fourth-grade teacher at McGlone Elementary School in Denver; Shelby Harris, a seventh- and eight-grade math teacher at Kuna Middle School in Kuna, Idaho; Joel Laguna, a sophomore AP World History teacher at Garfield High School in Los Angeles; and Lindsay Chinn, a freshman algebra teacher at MLK Early College in Denver. TEACH will showcase how they used tenacity, innovation and passion to make it through the turbulent 2012-’13 school year.

Joining Latifah in celebrating educators will be other celebrities such as Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men), Anna Faris (Mom), NBA star Paul George, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rashida Jones and Jerry O’Connell (We Are Men). All right, so almost all of those names have CBS connections (Jones is developing a comedy for The CW, which is owned by CBS), but let’s not be too cynical here. Teachers have a hard job, and while there certainly are bad ones, you could say that about any line of work, right?

Perhaps Friday night isn’t the ideal time to schedule a school-themed special, but here’s hoping the right people see it.

Teach CBS Queen Latifah

Photo: Credit: Don Holtz




  1. I’m a retired Principal and just loved this program. My heart was overjoyed that we are recognizing those who make a difference with our children everyday even during their summer break. Teachers are thinking what next or they are in university classes learning new strategies that will intice their students to become great thinkers. The days of being in the classroom came back to me along with the countless hours teachers spend planning, etc. for the next day and weeks to come. At the school where I was the Principal for the last 8 years of my career, I admired the staff of teachers as well as all staff in the building who played a very important role in all the children who entered the doors.
    If someone could lead me in the direction of how to become a part of this project, please send me a message. I want to share some of my ideas and experiences.
    My hats goes off to all who helped to get this project on national television. Who would have thought Teachers would have the spot light in the mist of how society view schools during these days in 2013.
    One of my favorite shows before TEACH was Dancing with the Stars, well teachers are stars everyday they enter the classroom. I would love to be the first Educator on that program, also. Let’s continue to show case Teachers who make us who we are today.

  2. Thank you to the Gates foundation for sponsoring this program.

    Oh, wait a second… this is the same foundation that has pumped millions of dollars in promoting the common core curriculum. The same curriculum that has third graders going into panic attacks and convincing very good teachers to give up on a profession that they used to love.

    I am a parent and a teacher in New York. I teach in one of the better schools in the state. I have seen what the common core has done to our students and our school.

    Our district, like many, have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in new curriculum and “methods” of teaching the common core. Testing companies have been using New York students as guinea pigs for the past few years by placing field testing questions in state exams. Normally, companies elicit volunteers and compensate them when asking them to test a product that the company will eventually profit from. This is not the case with our students. They have ridiculously difficult questions placed in state exams and the students go into panics trying to answer them. This also comes at a cost to the district, as we have to pay thousands for the extra personnel needed for administering and grading these exams.

    As a parent and teacher, I am fed up with the common core and gates foundation.

  3. Not to say I don’t appreciate teachers making a difference, but I doubt teachers will have much of a chance, if any at all, pretty soon. With Common Core State Standards seeping into the nations curriculum, our children are-pardon me- screwed! The educational system will become even more rigid and “teaching to the test” is all you will see. Students will get dumber, and there isn’t anything even the best teacher can do about it.

  4. Of what use in real life is the 7th grade algebra lesson shown on the board, about which the teacher asked if it were a negative or positive pattern? I’ve never seen that kind of problem before and may not be describing it correctly, but I sure question what relevance that particular problem has to the life of an ordinary person. I’m a former elementary teacher, believe that teaching is a sacred profession, but think we need to teach skills and concepts that apply to the real life of ordinary people!!

    • Spoken like a third grade teacher. Really?? You must have been that kid sitting in math class whining “when will I EVER use this?”

      Here’s your real life example of a negative correlation. The changing temperatures due to the seasons…As the weather gets colder, heat bills will rise. When warmer weather comes back around, heat bills will decrease, which is an example of a positive correlation. But, why is there a positive correlation between winter trmperatures and electricity use? What are the possible reasons? its cold, roads are bad, prople stay home…use more power. Winter means it gets dark earlier…teaching students about positive and negative correlations can maje them THINK. I would think that as a teacher, you could see that. I hate that they used a “big word” you didn’t understand. As adults, students need to be able to interpret data, analyze a situation…

      Do your students NEED to know how to make pilgrim hats? I don’t see many grown adults running around wearing construction paper hats…but is there value in lessons about pilgrims? Sure there is.

      • Well, I guess “there’s no dumb question” applies only to students, not to fellow teachers. I asked because I didn’t understand. You provided an answer I could understand, but I could have done without the derogatory attitude. Never had my kids make a pilgrim hat. Spent most of our class time trying to bring a bunch of 4-6th graders closer to grade level in reading, math, and spelling. I had a group of kids who had been passed from one grade to another without having mastered the basic letter sounds or number concepts. If they don’t get those basics in the early grades, they’re doomed to mastering the grade level material.

    • Hey Lois, did you consider that algebra can teach a kid how to approach, analyze and solve a complex task? Or is critical thinking not a life skill?
      — German/ELL Teacher

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