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Dr. Andres Alonso was born in Cuba and emigrated to the United States with his parents at the age of 12. Originally speaking no English, he attended public schools in[…]

The fourth season of the acclaimed TV drama was all about the Baltimore school system. So why won’t the real-life CEO of Baltimore’s public schools watch it?

Question: As the Baltimore schools CEO, have you ever watched “The Wire”?


Andres Alonso: I never watched it.  I’m familiar with it.  You know why I’ve never watched it?  So, first of all, people think it’s an amazing show and they always react to me as in, “How could you not have watched The Wire?”  When I decided that I was going to go to Baltimore and everybody said, “You have to have watched ‘The Wire,’ and you have to watch the fourth season.  That’s the season that is about education.”  It just struck me, no, if I’m going to give the city a chance, I can’t approach it through the lens of a work of fiction, however magnificent it might be, that shows it in its worst light.  And I love people in schools too much to do that to them. 


So, I - and, of course, I taught in Newark, New Jersey for 12 years, so I felt that I don’t need to watch a TV show to understand what happens in some of the urban, the core of America.  So, I’ve decided that I wouldn’t watch it and I’m just too busy to watch 150 hours of TV or however long it might take right now.  So, I haven’t watched an HBO series since “The Sopranos” and, of course, “The Sopranos” I watched because I’m from New Jersey.  So, that’s the story of “The Wire” for me.

Recorded on January 29, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen