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Freedom Writers: Hilary Ain’t The Only Swank Thing About This Movie

Style diva and general troublemaker Stevie Wilson takes issue with Robin Roberts’ piece about Hilary Swank on Good Morning America, noting that Roberts’ description of Wilson High School in Long Beach is far from “inner city.”

Stevie cc’d FBLA on an e-mail she sent Roberts, saying: “The designation of Woodrow Wilson as an inner city school shows a lack of research on their part and a bit of spin doctoring on the part of the movie producers to increase the movie’s reach,” she wrote. “It’s a school in one of the most affluent areas of Long Beach — where most of the upscale homes are located.”

The sign outside Wilson declares it a “classical high school,” we don’t know what that means, but we know about the sign because we lived two blocks away from the school and can agree, wholeheartedly, with Stevie when she says Belmont Heights is not the hood.

So here, without further ado, is Stevie’s rant:


The piece that Robin Roberts did on GMA this AM with Hilary Swank about Freedom Writers and the high school that Erin Gruwell taught at was not in LA but here in Long Beach, CA. They referred to it on TV as an INNER CITY SCHOOL — the school is Woodrow Wilson and IS NOT an inner city school by any means. It’s a school in one of the most affluent areas of Long Beach — where most of the upscale homes are located. The reasoning for the “inner city” designation is because children have been bussed into various schools in Long Beach for over 20 years to achieve an balanced ethnicity population and to allow some schools that are truly in the ghetto (read Long Beach Poly and Jordan High Schools) to become magnet schools for federal funds and special programs (Poly Pace for example is well known throughout the country as a top notch school within a school at Poly … where most of the population is African American and Asian (read Cambodian, Vietnamese).

The designation of Woodrow Wilson as an inner city school shows a lack of research on their part and a bit of spin doctoring on the part of the movie producers to increase the movie’s reach. I don’t disagree with Erin’s part in creating a better environment for those students. Wilson’s student population (and all of the high schools in the LBUSD) is almost at 5 k per school ( 4 grades) and the schools are too small and underfunded. (I had to BUY a text book for my daughter to have a book for her science class. Not everyone can afford to buy a sixty dollar book for their children. It was not required that we buy it either. I just was not going to have my child go through a hard science class without a book).

What I resent is that this school is now a magnet school recognized as a Blue Ribbon School both at the state and national level for having outstanding achievement. This is the same school system that instituted required uniforms for k-5 and middle schools and two of five high schools are requiring uniforms to prevent gang and ethnic related violence — one of them is Woodrow Wilson HS, the very same school.

Ten years ago, WW HS was not the school it is today. And while there are still issues, to call this school an inner city school is an insult — just because the students were bussed in from other parts of the city to get a more racially balanced population.

Just thought I would fill you in on some inaccuracies and I will be forwarding this same email to Robin Roberts because it’s an insult to Woodrow Wilson and the parents and PTA who work and put time, effort and $$$$ into that school

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