A SundanceTV Original Series
Produced by Jamie Oliver, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson and Chuck D

What You Need to Know About DREAM SCHOOL

When I first heard about DREAM SCHOOL – I’m not going to lie – I was skeptical. I might have even rolled my eyes. I mean, high school dropouts being taught by celebrities? “What will be taught – and who will be the teachers?” I wondered. Would Britney Spears teach an auto-tune music class? Would Professor Kim Kardashian teach elocution or videography? Or would Miley Cyrus hold court on sex education? My mind boggled.

But I will be the first to say I was wrong… and intrigued. It wasn’t just the choice of “teachers” – celebrities who came in to teach extra classes – like David Arquette, Oliver Stone or screenwriter Cliff Dorfman. It was also the selection of teens that was fascinating. Proving that high school dropouts aren’t just a stereotype from the inner city, the kids hailed from all over Los Angeles, even Beverly Hills. Their reasons for dropping out ran the gamut from teenage pregnancy to anger management issues to bullying. Basically, they got jammed up.

But as the episode unfolds, it becomes clear that while some kids got jammed up by life, some jammed themselves up. While some of the teens are eager to get on in life, others seem to act up and play a fool in front of the cameras.

I spoke with Cliff Dorfman about this and he said it better than I could have:

Not sure what this player is used for, but we’re now using it for the Mammas e-Card. — mikecags, 5/1/13 16:41

Each of the kids’ stories are gripping, but the episode is also frustrating to watch. Take Lucca, for example. She’s obviously bright and cares about her future, but she is also used to getting her way and doing whatever she wants – with her mother’s permission. Apparently she has been going to the music festival Coachella since the eighth grade (side note: WTF? Who allows an eighth grader to go to Coachella unsupervised? Her mother needs an Adult Education class – Parenting 101 – taught by Judge Judy and Dr. Phil). She skips Dream School to attend Coachella again – after being warned not to. Her mother provided an excuse for her. And that may just be the problem.

Not sure what this player is used for, but we’re now using it for the Mammas e-Card. — mikecags, 5/1/13 16:41

The full effect of the episode is frustrating, endearing and at times hilarious (watching Oliver Stone try to teach a group of bored, disinterested teenagers is, oddly, amusing). But it leaves me with more questions than answers.

Many of these kids are getting the credits not to graduate – but to get back to the grade level they are supposed to be in. But as they had such a difficult time in “regular” school, how will they fare when they go back? When their classes are triple the size of Dream School and not held in a beautiful mansion? Will they all graduate? If Dream School succeeds where other schools have not, what does this say about our education system where every 24 seconds another kid drops out?
I guess I will just have to wait to find out.

Watch the all new season of DREAM SCHOOL, Mondays 10pm.

Paula Froelich (@PFRO) – journalist, novelist, NATJA award-winning travel writer, queen of random, fun facts, and social anthropologist.