In his seminal thesis titled Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire wrote: “One cannot expect positive results from an educational or political action program which fails to respect the particular view of the world held by the people.” Thomas A. Morgan’s Tomorrow’s Hope shows us the implications of the same, describing a world where education is treated as a privilege rather than a fundamental right. It also reassures that change is possible if it is relentlessly pursued by motivated educators who will do what it takes to secure the future of younger generations.
At the start of the documentary, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot informs us of the appalling fact that 5.5 million American children live in poverty, and half of them do not have access to proper educational resources. At the start of 2021, that figure had gone up to almost 11 million due to the unprecedented destruction of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to keep that reality in mind while watching Tomorrow’s Hope because this is the story of the children who did make it. The ones who slipped through the cracks of the system are mentioned in passing in anecdotal recollections of gang violence and crime.
“…it introduces us to children who are actually looking forward to a better world and who aren’t afraid to express themselves.”
We listen to the dreams of bright Chicago students like Jamal, Crystal, and Jalen, who aspire to go into diverse fields like medicine, psychology, and sound engineering. They have been given the courage to dream by inspiring educators like Jackie Robinson, facilitated by the support of Educare – an early childhood educational institution. Tomorrow’s Hope focuses its investigation on the operation of Educare and non-profit organizations like The Ounce of Prevention Fund, delineating how these institutions have contributed to the upliftment of marginalized communities in Chicago who the underfunded public school system has long underserved.
Through dialogic interactions with driven teachers such as Miss Robinson, documentarian Thomas A. Morgan reveals the key problems that plague the educational sector. The people at Educare have figured out that the key to a child’s sustainable education lies in the engagement of the parents, recognising that educating the parents is imperative to their ultimate goal. By contextualising the success story of Educare within a broader history of violence, displacement, and “development” in Chicago, Morgan conducts a necessary examination of the problematic past as well as the precarious present.
Although the documentary broadcasts the urgency of radical reforms and resources for better educational frameworks, it fails to get a complete picture of the broken system since its runtime is less than an hour. However, it serves its purpose of urging people to think more deeply about the undeniable impact of education on those who have been routinely neglected. It is extremely easy for future generations to be disillusioned by the encroaching reality of climate change and other factors that threaten to annihilate our civilisation. That’s why Tomorrow’s Hope is refreshing. It introduces us to children who are actually looking forward to a better world and who aren’t afraid to express themselves.
"…serves its purpose of urging people to think more deeply about the undeniable impact of education..."