Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Leap Tall Buildings to See "Waiting for Superman"

Ok so this is a little delayed.  My work blocked blogspot (a serious crime) and with the holiday I have been really blog lazy.  But despite this I still can't stop thinking about this movie so I wanted to share my thoughts.
Three weeks ago I went to see the documentary, Waiting for Superman.  I loved it so much I went again the following week.  So this will be a 2 part post of sorts (2 in 1).  I wrote my first reactions to the movie as me, myself and my opinions (three weeks ago).  The second reaction is posted after I went to the movie with my mother who is an educator.  I value her opinion as someone who has experienced the "system" for a long time and I wanted to see how her expertise would influence my opinions and besides who doesn't need some good old fashion mother/daughter bonding.

First Viewing
We all know we have a bad public school system.  We hear about it in the news, from parents, we even went through it ourselves.  Waiting for Superman delves into some facts about school system including drop out factories, per student spending, test scores and more while it follows 5 students who are living as part of the system which will shock you. (just asked the crazy blonde who sat in front of me gasping).
The movie makes some very interesting points I had never thought about.  One, how teachers unions may actually hinder the progress of public education.  The very groups that should be fighting for reforms in the public school system are it's biggest mill stone.   The teachers unions have too much power and they are not allowing the changes necessary to improve our educational system.  For example the chancellor of the DC school district (surprisingly one of the worst districts in the nation) proposed a new contract with the teachers union to raise teacher salaries under a merit based salary program.  The union found it so threatening they didn't even allow it to go to a vote.  I think they realized that if teachers were paid on merit and not a standard yearly negotiation, their role would eventually dissolve.  Power is hard to give it up, even if it is in the best interest of the whole. 

Waiting for Superman also pointed out some success stories in the organization of charter schools.  Let me state here that I do not believe the movie was trying to portray charter schools as the solution to the public education problem, but simply showing that charter schools work outside of the system, outside the rules of teacher's unions and therefore have the freedom to make changes to the system to make necessary improvements such as extended school days and paying teachers higher salaries.
Ultimately, after my first viewing I felt inspired to be part of the process.  To stand up, to demand and to take action to see reform in our public school system.  I think teacher's unions are no longer necessary.  Bad teachers should be fired.  And teachers should be paid more.  I don't think it will happen quickly or that it won't be without some miss steps.  But a few miss steps is no worse then doing nothing at all.

Second Viewing
Wow! What a reaction you say.  Well, after seeing it the first time I had to go back.  Just ask some friends.  I could talk of nothing else.  But this time I would go back with a little "education"...my mom.  My mother has been a teacher and school administrator for over 20 years, I value her opinion and pretty much my mom is super smart and pretty much she rocks (what can I say she supports me through everything, I am bias).
Anywho.  We had a lovely dinner at Eva based on the recommendations of Brunette.  We discussed a few life topics and of course the movie we were about to view.  My mom has a really interesting viewpoint of the school system and teacher unions because she works with children who have special needs.  She sees a lot of the "exceptions" that many educational laws are created to protect.  We discussed teachers unions which I felt were a huge part of the movie.  We also discussed the "No Child Left Behind" program of President GW Bush.  She had very interesting viewpoints on the program and pointed out many of its weaknesses.
Overall, our opinions of the movie and its conclusions were very similar.  She brought an enhancement to the movie and her knowledge and ideas for reform were the mark of a master teacher.  I thought that with a more educated opinion my views would change, but I really think the movie hit it home for me.  I won't be solving the education system problems, but I will be making sure I stand up for good educational legislation and supporting those who I feel can make a difference.

Waiting for Superman is the documentary of the year.  It left me passionate about education and trying to help create a solution or be involved in any little way.  Maybe I'll even start a Redhead scholarship fund. Must be a redhead to apply.  GO see this movie.  It is worth the $8.50.  Grab hot chocolate after and discuss it.  Spread the excitement and be part of the solution.

Photos are of the five children who are followed during their pursuit of a good education.


Gulen is a Fraud said...
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Jake said...

I've been wanting to see this pretty bad. I'm hoping it sheds some light on how a country that invests so much on education ends up getting such a lousy return year after year, generation after generation. Clearly money isn't solving this. And unfortunately, with problems as massive and complicated as this there's no one solution.

I do like the voucher idea though. Let the parents decide which school gets the money attached to their kid.

Anyway, thanks for the recommendation. And nice blog. I'm really enjoying it.