Saturday, September 25, 2010

Make a Pledge

I'm pretty sure I have written about this movie at least once before, but I decided to mention it again.
"Waiting for Superman" opened in New York and Los Angeles yesterday and will go into wider release in October. Aside from the fact that this is a compelling documentary that examines the current trajectory of American public schools, it is also an important film about social justice and the responsibility we all have as adults, as Americans, to educate our children and prepare them for a future that is becoming more complex all the time.

I cannot think of a more important film to see - regardless of your political leanings, regardless of your parental status. Whatever this film does, it will at least initiate a conversation about a topic that people don't really want to discuss, much less look at with any depth. I know that Oprah did a couple of shows in it this week and the Facebook CEO donated $100 Million dollars in a Challenge Grant to help schools in Newark, NJ.  The winds of change are blowing, but maybe if we help them along, they will get up to the force we need and really start transforming education for our children and for the fate of the country.

Here is a trailer to tempt you:

Here is a clip of an interview with a man named Geoffrey Canada who appears in the film and is helping to publicize this important issue. All four of his children have been or are attending public schools.

Pledge to see the film when it comes to your town. Portland, OR is #20 on the Pledge list.

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**Please Note:  While this may be considered by some as a political issue (left vs. right, Progressives vs. Conservatives), I think it is an issue of what is best for children. I DON'T believe that privatization of all schools is the answer, I don't believe that Unions are to blame, I don't think that this is hopeless.

I worked in public schools for 9+ years in addition to my own public school experience. I know what a difference good teachers can make and I know how much damage bad teachers can do. I interpreted in a school where EVERYONE in the school, from the principal to the custodial staff, KNEW that the teacher in my classroom should have been put out to pasture YEARS earlier.  Not only was this person a poor leader, s/he was mean, ineffective and the students were afraid of him/her. When this teacher would start yelling at the students, the kids would start to eat each other alive when they realized they weren't the target. They were so relieved it wasn't them and so desperate to stay out of the line of fire, they would have thrown their best friend under the bus.

I know that special education is something that hasn't really been looked at carefully by charter schools and people who are interested in charter schools, but ultimately, this is something we have to start thinking about. We have to think about how many kids are in special education and we have to think about whether or not we are really serving this population of students effectively. One size doesn't fit all in these situations.

We have a real crisis. This movie opens a conversation. What are we willing to do? What are we willing to expect?  What are we hoping for our children? Our nation? That's why I'm interested in the movie, in the conversation. I am not here to bash teachers. I love teachers. Good teachers. Teachers who care. And most do. But we have a much bigger problem than that...

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm....Looks liek a great movie.

    I wonder why, with that school that does the lottery, do the kid have to be there? When we tried to 'lottery in' to a high school, a letter was sent to the parents, then we had an opportunity to decide how to approach it with our son.

    I would say the first reform is to change that system so it's not SO traumatic for the kids!




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