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HBO's 'The Wire' Sparks Discussion

Cast member and his wife lead discussion on issues in public schools

By Amira Abulafi, Contributing Writer

After the news that HBO TV show “The Wire” would be used as a case study in an upcoming Harvard course made waves online last week, an actor from the show and his wife led a discussion at Harvard Law School yesterday centered around the show’s depiction of public schools.

Cast member Jim True-Frost and his wife Cora True-Frost, a professor at the Law School, used the fourth season of “The Wire” as a jumping-off point to examine wider issues in education and the reality of inner city schools.

“The Wire,” set in Baltimore, focused on a different feature of city life each season from 2002 to 2008. The fourth season, in which True-Frost portrayed the police-officer-turned-teacher Roland “Prez” Pryzbylewski, centered around the city’s school system.

The episodes on education also dealt with poverty, social stratification, and maintaining classroom control.

“It is a godsend that these issues have been brought to a bigger public arena,” said True-Frost, whose character taught middle school math.

One recurring theme in the clips the True-Frosts presented was the difficulty of controlling a rowdy classroom, an issue with which many members of the audience had grappled with in personal teaching experiences.

“I had to invest in being tough,” said Cora True-Frost, who, prior to her career in law, taught in the Baltimore city school district. She said the job was one of her most life-changing experiences.

The Law School student group Child and Youth Advocates sponsored the lecture, which coordinates volunteer activities between HLS students and children in the Boston area.

Lindsay S. See, a second-year law student who organized the event, said she hoped the discussion would promote further contemplation.

“When people start talking, they start thinking about the issues,” she said, “Especially when the issues are so dependent on experience.”

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