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Show Enlists Communities in 'Extreme Makeover' for Schools

"A school decimated by budget cuts and neglect is transformed through the efforts of its kids, parents, staff and community."

Believe it or not, parent and public engagement in schools has become a hot enough topic that this is the tag line for a new NBC prime time series, "School Pride," which debuts October 15 at 8 p.m. Eastern time. The series dramatizes stories of communities working to invigorate "aging and broken public schools." Community organizers are the heroes, with huge supporting casts of parents, teachers, students, and other community members.

A trailer shows hundreds of people mobilizing to rebuild a school in Compton, Calif., in 10 days. With shows about similar stories at schools around the country, "School Pride" is also about "revitalizing the community, and encouraging student pride and academic improvement," according to the web site of producer Cheryl Hines.

An accompanying web site, My School Pride, offers tool kits for parental involvement and "causes, issues, resources, and information you need to make a difference."

Will the series be compelling enough to captivate and motivate audiences, or at least get them to think about issues of community engagement and school improvement? Will the show attract more than those already committed to these causes? While unlikely to be a breakaway hit, one can only hope that it does help to change the public mindset about engaging with schools and, maybe, becomes a new model for public service-oriented reality TV.

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