Class of '27

Three communities in rural America come together against the odds, helping their children grow into successful graduates.

Film Signature Image
America ReFramed
Premiere Date
September 13, 2016
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Series and Special Projects
Headshot of James Rutenbeck
Executive Producer

James Rutenbeck

James Rutenbeck (Director/Co-producer) is a two-time recipient of the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Journalism award. Notable films include Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?, Class of ’27, and Scenes from a Parish. His work has appeared on Show more America Reframed, American Experience, Independent Lens, The Atlantic, and NYT Op-Docs. Show less

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Nina Alvarez

Nina Alvarez is a documentarian and journalist with over 20 years of experience. She directed and wrote an episode for Latino Americans, which received a Peabody and the Imagen Award. Nina’s credits include Very Young Girls, The Battle for America’s Schools, the Oscar-nominated Which Way Home, and the Emmy-nominated Aftershock Pakistan.

Other ITVS Films
Almost American

Dustinn Craig

Dustinn Craig is an award-winning White Mountain Apache filmmaker who began his career making skateboarding films on the Reservation. He has won a Rockefeller Media Arts Fellowship, and was selected for a documentary fellowship at the Sundance Institute Native and Indigenous Program. Dustinn produced a feature-length documentary on the Chiricahua Show more Apache Geronimo for the PBS series We Shall Remain, as well as two short films portraying contemporary Native stories connected to the past. He also produced a personal short for the acclaimed four-part series Matters of Race. Dustinn runs the production company, White Springs Creative, LLC with his wife, Velma Kee Craig, and lives in Mesa, AZ. Show less

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The Film

On native lands of the Upper Midwest, in the hollows of Appalachia and in West Coast migrant camps, parents contemplate a compromised future for their children, facing depressed local economies and soaring dropout rates. But a growing body of research on quality child development offers hope for breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty. Three diverse filmmaking teams set out across rural America, exploring the lives of our youngest citizens and telling the stories of families and communities coming together-- against the odds— to guide their children into successful graduates of the Class of ’27.

Class of ’27 focuses on students, educators, parents and guardians in three locations: Owsley County, KY, the poorest county in the US; along the West Coast with children of farm workers; and in White Earth Nation, the largest and poorest Native American reservation in Minnesota. Shot in observational style, the beauty and poverty of these American settings, and the challenges our youngest citizens, their families and school systems face, come into stark relief.