For the students and educators of Stanton Elementary School of North Philadelphia, optimism is pretty hard to come by. The area is one of the city's (and country's) poorest, with more than 90% of its residents living below the poverty line, and the school itself is woefully understaffed and underfunded. "Promise" follows innovative, dedicated Stanton Principal Deanna Burney for an entire year as she stretches her limited resources to handle her troubled school, knowing the only hope for a better life for these children is a good education.
"Promise" unfolds as a frank, penetrating look at the challenges facing educators working in a troubled school district plagued by poverty and racism. Director Raymond proves herself an excellent listener, as her film allows the people of this downtrodden community to speak for themselves. The message they convey is troubling, but against steep odds, hope for improvement persists. The strength and dedication of the subjects profiled here — students and educators alike — cannot fail to inspire even those who feel our education system is fundamentally broken. Sadly, this moving documentary feels only more relevant two decades after its release. This "Promise" is well worth keeping.