Help make it happen. Donate to IEP here
As some of you may know, I am the director of the forthcoming short film, IEP. IEP, (which stands for Individualized Education Plan), was written by my wife, actress/writer Trenekia Danielle, and exposes some pitfalls of the special education system as it exists today within the United States. In her position as a school psychologist, she saw the often discriminatory practices and labels used against young African-American and Latino children, whose behaviors were often misdiagnosed and misunderstood. IEP sheds light on a fictional hodgepodge of some of those incidents and dramatizes how they ultimately affect us all.
Our protagonist is 8-year-old Xavier, a product of inner-city Los Angeles, discussed — with widely varying opinions — by his mother, teacher, principal and others who should know him well. Our goal, amongst other things, is to give voice to many young black boys who are unable to speak for themselves. Shooting is to begin in Los Angeles in fall 2009.
Here is the issue in more detail:
The New York Times, November 11th, 2005, article by Avi Salzman
Educators in urban districts, burdened with packed classrooms, often don’t intervene early enough to deal with the problems of minority children, Dr. Malone said. As they approach adolescence, the students act out their frustration, she said. That can intimidate teachers.
“Many times, I believe the staff and faculty are afraid of boys of color,” Dr. Malone said. “The simplest way to deal with it is to teach the kids who are easy to teach and warehouse the most difficult ones.”
Another excerpt, from EZine articles titled, “Over-Identification of Minority Children in Special Education – What Can Be Done?” by Joann Collins
About 9% of all school age children are diagnosed with a disability and receive special education services. But African-American children receive special education services at a rate about 40% higher than the national average across racial and ethnic groups at about 12.4%. Studies have shown that schools that have mostly white students and teachers, place a disproportionately high number of minority children in special education.
Young Xavier acts out at times, sure, but why? Is he the animal he’s been made out to be? Is his well-meaning but inexperienced teacher to blame? His mother who loves him but doesn’t know how to show that love due to her own demons? His absent father? His numbers-driven principal? Tough questions. But we’ll address them all.
If you are reading this, you can help. The film has been approved for fiscal sponsorship by Fractured Atlas, a non-profit organization based in New York City. That means that any donation you make to help fund this short film will be tax-deductible to extent permitted by law. We are ultimately looking to put our funding towards paying our crew and our expectedly expensive navigation of the international film festival circuit, in order to reach as wide an audience as possible.
Give today and you will receive:
1) A free copy of the completed film and signed poster.
2) Weekly updates on the film's progress and exclusive, behind the scenes photos.
3) Your name in the film's final credits.
4) The ability to say that a relevant, entertaing, topical movie couldn't have been made without you.
Times are tough. But if we fail to shine light on how so many of our children are being abused by the system created to help them, times will only become tougher.
Donate to IEP here
Or mail contributions to Jason Gilmore PO Box 961 Woodland Hills CA 91365-0961. Checks should be made payable to Fractured Atlas with IEP in the memo line.
Other short films by Jason Gilmore
Jason Gilmore is a film director, screenwriter, novelist and unrepentant Detroit Pistons fan. Track him down on Facebook.
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IF YOU LIKED THIS COLUMN...
5.20.09 @ 12:40p
I think the subject of your film is very important. My best friend is a special ed teacher at an impoverished high school in Southern California. She teaches a different population--hispanic, mostly undocumented, and poor, but the issues are similar. In addition, her school population turns over at a rate of 50% per year, so each year a large portion of her caseload is kids she's not seen before and whose parents probably do not speak English.
Shining a light on the issue of kids who are ill-served by the "System" is an admirable endeavor.
5.20.09 @ 9:24p
Thanks for your contribution! My wife works in Los Angeles too. She really opened my eyes to what is going on in some of our poorer districts, but even the kids in the suburban areas are getting it too, it just manifests itself differently. We are telling just one story but one that is not unusual and hopefully it leads to further discussion.
5.21.09 @ 7:47p
My friend is in Santa Ana where things are comparable to inner city LA. She spends much of her personal time and a lot of her personal resources counseling, tutoring, defending, and literally feeding the kids in her classes. And, of course, on a teacher's salary she can ill afford to buy kids supplies, clothing and food, but she does it anyway because she cares.
Good luck in promoting the short. I look forward to seeing it.
5.29.09 @ 5:18p
Jason and Trenekia,
Kudos to you two for coming up with such an idea that definitely NEEDS to be addressed. I will do by best to support this project financially, physically, and spiritually (through prayer). If you all need any help with this project whatever that may be please feel free to let me know and I will do my best to provide. I will be spreading the word!
Keep me posted,
Much muich love and many blessings,
6.14.09 @ 5:14p
I was a psychometrist and counselor in school programs for over fifteen years of my working life, all of it over twenty-five years ago. Even back then these same conditions and problems existed. I applaud you for trying to do something about it in the best way you and Trenekia can: throught your art.