Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Still Waiting for Superman

Things are heating up over the upcoming release of the pro-charter, anti teacher union Waiting for Superman film. A bunch of us had a conference call tonight to discuss a reaction for teachers and parents calling for real reform.

Here are some links I put up on Norms Notes.

Dan Brown on Waiting For Superman

This is the most important part of his essay-- the part that might actually influence what happens in American classrooms-- and it's simplistic to the point of uselessness. I know that Guggenheim is a movie director and not necessarily a policy wonk, but by making Waiting For Superman he should assume responsibility for the reforms he's pressing. His recommendations are so vague that many would-be reformers can and are using the same language to promote untested, potentially dangerous initiatives.

Susan Sawyer's Waiting for the Truth

 the film's conclusion is as simplistic as it is misleading: charter schools are good, and public schools, as they stand currently, are bankrupt. We knew from some of our own reporting that New York City was home to a collection of successful and innovative public schools that could challenge this assumption. But even more curious, the film undercuts its own message midstream by reporting that "only one in five charters is producing good results."

charter schools are funded through a combination of public and private funds, but they are independently run. They are not subject to the same level of scrutiny or accountability as traditional public schools.
Furthermore, many charters have been criticized over the years for making little to no room for students with special needs or English language learners. These students tend to be sent instead to low-performing public schools, further eroding their chances for success and the school's ability to improve.
Other school success factors go unmentioned, such as access to healthy food, exposure to rich language, a safe neighborhood, a stable home life and a supportive community. As in any story, there's only so much space or time to make a point, but still.

 his film promises to enlighten audiences about the educational injustices school kids face. It will inevitably leave viewers moved by the plight of the children, yet also unable to see any workable solutions beyond creating more charter schools.
That's more than inconvenient. It's tragic.

From Gotham Schools
  • “Waiting for Superman” director Davis Guggenheim thinks teachers are most important. (HuffPost) - 
At my house the other night, the suspense was more intense than a thriller. My wife, daughter and I were huddled over a computer in the kitchen. I had control of the mouse, but clearly I wasn't going fast enough scrolling down the list, because my wife snatched it from my hand. Then my daughter shrieked, "Mom!, it's right there! See!!!" There it was, the list of fourth graders and which teacher was assigned to each student -- her little nine year old finger, hunting for her name. She saw it first and starting squealing, then my wife jumping up and down (I've always been the slow reader) But yes, yes!!!! It was there. We got the teacher we wanted. I joined in the celebration high five-ing my daughter, but more importantly my wife because we knew the single most important factor in determining her success this year would be the teacher she sees at the front of the classroom each day.
I wonder if Guggenheim's daughter would be so excited at the teacher she is getting if she went to a KIPP school? Then again, is he saying that the school he sends his daughter to has teachers who are not all excellent? What is it about this particular teacher they are so excited about? High test scores? How does he define "success"?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are welcome. Irrelevant and abusive comments will be deleted, as will all commercial links. Comment moderation is on, so if your comment does not appear it is because I have not been at my computer (I do not do cell phone moderating). Or because your comment is irrelevant or idiotic.