Dream School

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Dream School TV Poster Image
Innovative school inspires at-risk high school students.

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age 15+
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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The show highlights the importance of education, the challenges of staying in school when faced with difficult circumstances, and the efforts of some special people on behalf of these high school dropouts. It also reinforces the idea that no child should be thrown away and each one deserves a chance at success and education.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The teachers and mentors genuinely want to help students get an education, and they go above and beyond to attempt to inspire kids. They try very hard to be fair when determining disciplinary action. The students don't always make good decisions; their parents sometimes don't either. But they demonstrate significant perseverance.

Violence

A few students have been kicked out of school and even arrested for violent behavior. Some students argue, yell, and scream when they get upset. On occasional the principal talks about wanting to slap somebody out of frustration. 

Sex

Some students are teen parents. 

Language

Words such as "bitch" and "hell" audible; curses are bleeped. 

Consumerism

"Extra credit" segments feature products such as Canon DSLRs. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some students have a history of drug abuse; at least one student gets kicked out for possessing marijuana. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dream School is a reality series featuring at-risk high school dropouts trying to turn their lives around. Issues such as fighting, marijuana use, and teen parenthood are frequently discussed. There's also some tough language ("bitch," "hell"; bleeped curses), and occasional scenes of students arguing, screaming, and getting into physical altercations. Ultimately, the show sends very positive messages about staying in school, taking responsibility for your decisions, and finding new and creative ways to inspire students to learn. 

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Teen, 15 years old Written bySaad1Khan November 16, 2014

What's the story?

DREAM SCHOOL is a docuseries that features some of New York City's most challenging high school dropouts attending a special 30-day school designed to help them get back into the educational system. The radical social experiment allows 15 teenagers who dropped out of school for reasons such as fighting, homelessness, and extreme bullying to get back on the academic track with the help of educators and celebrity mentors, including rapper and entrepreneur 50 Cent, conservationist Jeff Corwin, and filmmaker Oliver Stone. From taking subjects such as math and writing to going on class trips designed to help them find their passion and encourage them to think critically about the world around them, the students have the opportunity to refocus themselves to graduate. Overseeing it all is Dream School principal Louanne Johnson, who works hard with the faculty to ensure that the academic and emotional needs of the students are met. 

Is it any good?

This series, produced by chef Jamie Oliver50 Cent, and music producer Chuck D, shows how mentorship and creativity can help reignite teenagers' interest in learning and working toward a better future. It also reveals some of the many obstacles educators face trying to meet the individual needs of challenging students. 

Although Dream School offers very limited discussions about specific lesson plans or the causes and effects of student behavior, teachers may be inspired by some of the ways the mentors attempt to engage their students. But, given this school's unique approach to helping students find their passion, teens may also take interest in what they see here. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the different reasons kids drop out of school, like the kids in Dream School. When faced with seemingly insurmountable circumstances, how can a teenager be inspired to finish high school? What are the disadvantages of not getting a high school diploma? Are there any advantages?

  • Do you think appearing on a reality series makes Dream School more appealing than it would otherwise be to the students who attend it? 

  • How does Dream School promote perseverance? Why is this an important character strength?

TV details

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