The premise behind Oyler’s community school model is simple: If kids can’t see the board, they’re not going to be able to learn what’s on it. To demonstrably inadequate healthcare add drugs, prostitution, poverty, and family histories that often don’t include high school graduation, and it’s clear these Lower Price Hill students are up against…a lot. Oyler’s statistics reflect that fact. So the school, in collaboration with the Community Learning Center Institute, aims to provide much more than math skills in the name of, well, better math skills: a health clinic, dental clinic, vision center, childcare, and three meals a day—all self-sustaining—as well as stable affordable housing in the near future.
Amy Scott, American Public Media’s Marketplace education correspondent, has reported on the efforts at Oyler over the course of a few years now, and this May she premiered OYLER, a documentary film that follows the school through its ups and downs for an entire year, including one student in particular as she works to get out of the cycle of poverty and into college.
“It’s incredibly challenging to transform a community overnight. It’s going to take generations, and so Oyler hasn’t seen the results on state test scores that they would like. But they have achieved a great deal, and it raises, I think, huge questions about how we assess schools and how we hold them accountable,” says Scott. “It’s a hopeful film in the end, but you do see just how steep the road is.”