Watch and Learn: The Wire and Public Education

This fall, Warm Cookies of the Revolution and the Sie Film Center are partnering to present Wire Wednesdays, episodes and discussions from all five seasons of HBO's The Wire. Here at the library, we're joining the discussion virtually with this Watch and Learn blog series

Each season of The Wire shines a spotlight on a different element of Baltimore society. On Wednesday, October 3, we'll be on to season four, which delves into the Baltimore City Public School system. In a 2006 Teacher Magazine interview, writer-producer (and former police officer and teacher) Ed Burns explains that the season "focuses on four 8th grade boys. 'You see the world they're in and what forces are pulling them... The school system is one magnet, the police, another magnet. You have [a] gym as another magnet, and then you have the drug dealers.'" 

Wednesday's discussion will explore how The Wire relates to education in Denver, and includes guest speaker, Project Voyce executive Candi CdeBaca, to share her experience and expertise. When I moved here (from Baltimore, coincidentally) I didn't know anything about Denver Public Schools' history and its impact on education in the city today. It's a complex and challenging story to uncover, but the library has a variety of resources, historic and current, to help you understand education issues on the local and national levels.

The Western History and Genealogy department is always the go-to for local history. Check out this post detailing the histories of Denver's five iconic high schools, North, South, East, West and Manual. Also included are links to the DPS records collection, housed here at the library, as well as a digital copy of the fascinating History of the Public Schools of Denver: A Brief History (1859-1989) and Complete Building Survey of the Denver Public Schools.

We're also fortunate to have a variety of documents spanning the history of Denver Public Schools' integration in the 1960s and '70s, including the Noel Resolution, which provided a path towards district integration, and legal documents from Keyes v. School District No. 1, the Supreme Court case that ordered supervised integration including busing. Both of these examples come from the Rachel Noel Papers at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library. For a narrative piece about DPS integration and equity then and now, I recommend this recent 5280 magazine piece, The Legacy of Denver’s Forced School Busing Era.

For education news about Colorado and other regions around the country, check out Chalkbeat. Particularly as we approach the midterm elections, it's a great spot to learn how our representatives and laws impact the state's teachers and students. Recent articles shed light on the gubernatorial race and the proposed Amendment 73.

We recommend CQ Researcher as a starting point to learn about all kinds of issues and events. It includes reports to help you understand the scope of national issues, like bilingual education, standardized testing and policies. Here is the most-recent full education report: Education Funding: Should states increase funding for public schools? 

For more instructional and academic information, see our Education Databases page. If you are a teacher or educator yourself, Denver Public Library wants to support you and your students. Our Educator Services page tells you about all of the options, from customized research guides, to field trips, to our 24/7 chat reference service, Ask Us.

Now that you've done your homework, sit back and enjoy the show.



School sign image by Ricard Gil via Flickr, Creative Commons licensed. 

Written by Hillary on September 26, 2018


Anonymous on October 1, 2018


What an interesting way to explore and think about this topic.