Full Episode Mar. 20: Charter Schools, The Story of the Jews, an “Unforgettable” Chorus

March 19, 2014 at 11:13 am

This edition of MetroFocus begins with a conversation about charter schools. Mayor Bill de Blasio said he would make education his first priority in his State of the City address. But even though his signature initiative was supposed to be universal pre-kindergarten, he also took on the city’s charter schools in an unexpected way. Now, there is a battle brewing in Albany and in the city.

Beth Fertig, WNYC contributing editor for education, and The New York Times reporter Javier Hernández spoke with MetroFocus host Rafael Pi Roman to put the whole charter story in perspective. “He sees charters as part of the lineup of different offerings for New York City public school students, but, unlike the previous administration, he’s clearly not going to put as much emphasis on them as a form of school reform. He sees it as part of the bigger picture of 1,800 public schools,” Fertig said of de Blasio. “He wants to provide parents with good local options so they don’t feel like they have to choose a charter school.”

On March 25, PBS premieres “The Story of the Jews,” a five-part look into 3,000 years of Jewish history and experience. It’s written and presented by Simon Schama, a university professor of art history and history at Columbia University, a contributing editor of the Financial Times, and a writer and presenter of 50 documentaries on art, literature and history. The documentary is also a personal journey for Schama, as he tells MetroFocus’ Rafael Pi Roman. “I felt actually that the only way through was to make it a kind of personal essay and let the cards fall where they are,” he said.

And what do you get when you combine the power of song with the power of science? A one-of-a-kind chorus group called “The Unforgettables.” Dr. Mary Mittelman, a research professor at NYU Langone Medical Center, created the Unforgettables chorus to study the effects of music and social interaction on people with dementia and their caregivers. The Unforgettables have performed eight public concerts so far, and will perform April 5 at St. Peter’s Church Sanctuary here in the city. Reporter and anchor Jack Ford spoke with Dr. Mittelman about this unique form of musical therapy. “It shows that dementia is not people curled up in a nursing home,” Mittelman said.

Watch the individual MetroFocus segments below and stay up to date on MetroFocus news from the New York region on Twitter.

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