2013 Grants Challenge

A Passion at Risk

``A Passion at Risk,'' will be a 40-minute short film about teachers from throughout Los Angeles County and their opinions about the future of education reform. Since ``A Nation at Risk,'' was released 30 years, schoolteachers in Los Angeles have been working in a constant state of reform. Some who started out in their early 20s and are now approaching retirement have spent their whole careers in a sector in a constant cycle of reinvention. In this film, teachers will tell their stories about which reforms have worked and which reforms have fallen short and why. Los Angeles still has a persistent achievement gap, many failing schools and a dropout crisis. Most reforms that have not succeeded through the years have failed due to ineffective implementation. In looking back, we will find great ideas that worked and not so great ideas that led to ridiculous situations. Teachers consistently say they are left out of the conversations about reform and are just given marching orders from administrators who may be unaware of the challenges they face in their classrooms. ``A Passion at Risk,'' will give Los Angeles teachers a voice and give them the opportunity to share their visions for a more collaborative future. There will be one teacher for each grade from K-12 and they will be chosen from traditional public schools, charter schools, private and parochial schools. We will not find out until the end what ``type'' of school it is where they are teaching. They will range in age from new teachers to teachers will vast experience. There will be teachers who are union activists and others who do not belong to a union at all. The film is titled, ``A Passion at Risk,'' because so many teachers are leaving the profession despite their passion for teaching. Los Angeles is already seeing teachers come together to talk about how they can have a stronger voice in policies that impact their classroom. This film is meant to serve as an inspiration to that movement and to emphasize the importance of involving teachers in the discussion about how to dramatically improve our schools in the next 37 years.


What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

Pacesetter Productions is a new name for a consulting business Lee Condon has run from 2005 to the present. During that time, our project teams have produced more than 30 videos honoring teachers, principals and schools that have won awards from the California Charter Schools Association. Please see examples here:


In addition, Lee Condon served as the producer of the California Charter Schools Conference from 2007 to 2012, creating extensive programming for teachers, including a Teacher Expo. The event grew from 1,600 to 3,300 attendees in this time period. Our teams have also produced promotions and videos to support the growth of the charter school movement. Please see details here.


Lee Condon, the director and producer of the film, was a founding staff member at the California Charter Schools Association and served as chief of staff to LAUSD School Board President Caprice Young.

Before becoming involved in education reform, Lee Condon worked as a journalist for 11 years. Selected writing is linked below:


Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

Brian Appel, Bad Appel Production. Brian Appel and I have worked on several film projects together. Brian will serve as the editor for the project.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

The project is meant to inspire school districts to more fully involve teachers in their efforts to improve our schools. In addition, the film will inspire teachers to demand a more active role in how reform will be implemented in their classrooms. The project will be successful if education reform organizations embrace its message and host screenings that will start conversations among local teachers. In addition, we will use the website to promote and distribute the film online.

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

The education community in Los Angeles is outrageously fractured. Despite many attempts to improve education in Los Angeles, we still have persistently failing schools throughout the county. Many times we look for a one size fits all solution and instead of empowering teachers, we are imposing strict rules and regulations that may or may not benefit their work with their students. Currently in LAUSD, we are about to implement a new teacher evaluation system that will likely fail to because of opposition from teachers and a lack of a clear plan from administrators. This film will highlight the need for teachers to have a voice in the changes they will be asked to implement in their classrooms.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

In 2050, education in Los Angeles would be built to serve the needs of its students. Instead of sticking with systems just because that is always the way things have been done, our communities will have freedom and flexibility to create education programs that inspire our students to excellence. We will come up with funding structures that are consistent so that our schools are not left in a constant cycle of crisis. We will provide teachers with higher salaries and provide incentives to keep our best teachers in the classroom.