If you can see one movie this fall, I'??m going to recommend Waiting For Superman. While I adore Julia and think RomCom'??s are delightful, this is a movie we all need to see for the sake of our children. Davis Guggenheim follows five children in this documentary. The kids range in age from first graders to middle school and live in LA, Silicon Valley, DC and NYC. Guggenheim picked an adorable crew to focus on'??these kids are bright and full or promise.
They'??re in mediocre to bad schools facing even grimmer options in the future. Parents or grandparents scramble to find better options a school that will '??save'? their child just like Superman would. All of the families end up looking to charter school and all face a lottery system to secure a spot at a public school that is doing something unusual and inspired.
I'??m not going to ruin the film by telling you what happens in the lottery. But I will tell you what happened to me. I was deeply moved. I was lucky and my girls are lucky'??we'??ve got choices if our public school is not up to par. In the neediest neighborhoods (and in some affluent ones) public schools are failing our kids. Test after test shows are kids are falling behind the rest of the world.
Did you know Kazakhstan (isn't that where Borat was from?) scored better (549) on fourth grade math scores than the USA (529).
The risk is monumental if we ignore this issue. About 10% of children attend private school. The remaining 50 million rely on state and federal government for education. Here'??s why you should see this film:
It celebrates teachers
Many are shown in the very best light as selfless leaders'??and the solution to the problem. This is not teacher bashing.
It provides solutions
Not everyone may agree, but this is not a documentary that simply presents villains without heros. Clearly we are meant to believe that unions need to make serious concessions to solve the problem of bad teachers. Guggenheim's answers seem to be accountability, charter schools and performance-based pay.
It will make you angry
And maybe inspire action. The length of time it takes to get rid of a bad teach is heartbreaking. Years and years they sit on the public payroll (NYC spends about $30 million a year paying teachers full pay before their hearing some up). Although the city has invested about $2 million in hiring more lawyers to help principals get rid of teachers, it has managed to fire only three for incompetence in the last two years. During the last two school years, 45 teachers have been fired for misconduct, like corporal punishment, sexual harassment or crimes. These facts from the NY Times are staggering. Are there really only 47 bad teachers in all of NYC? It shouldn't be this hard to replace the bad apples with talent.
It will inspire you
Geoffrey Canada (NYC) and Michelle Rhee (DC) are two examples of leaders sacrificing for the greater good. You'll also be hopeful about the new charter schools opening and the many, many parents who are fighting to get the best for their kids.
It will make you re-think the status quo
Performance-based pay and bonuses for great teachers willing to take on the toughest schools and bring them up to par. No one school is perfect for the way different children learn. By developing different types of schools some with tracking some without--maybe even public boarding schools, we can offer our children places to learn that are not cookie cutter.
It will break your heart
All the beautiful, bright children slipping through the gaps. The ones with parents or grandparents that wanted something better (and they are in the good spot'??what about the kids without parental advocates!). They line up for charter school lotteries and watch their children'??s future decided by the selection of a bingo ball. No child should have their future decided by the roll of the dice.
Of course there are no easy answers. This is a huge issue and the education dept. is a huge bureaucracy. But ignoring the issues or using duct tape here and there to fix the broken system simply isn'??t good enough. We'??re failing our children. See the movie. Join the debate.
Momtrends was not paid for this post. I am deeply grateful to my parents for making my education such a priority.