Thursday, September 29, 2011

"American Teacher" Praised: Say It Ain't So Valerie

UPdated - 10:15PM with Susan Ohanian comments on Dana Goldstein review.
Here is my review from May: Reviewing "American Teacher": Ed Deform Wolf in Sheeps Clothing

Praise for American Teacher Movie As "Getting it Right" Gets It Wrong.
The Answer Sheet Blog
'American Teacher': A Film on Education That Gets It Right
by Mark Phillips
Every policymaker should be required to see the new film “American Teacher,” which powerfully reveals the huge challenge that the country faces in attracting and keeping the best teachers to help improve public education.
I can't think of any post Valerie Strauss at The Answer Sheet published that I don't agree with. Until now. I've seen "American Teacher" twice and just loved Real Reformer Jamie Fidler (Rocking the House at Education Nation) in it. But I didn't hear the 2 dirtiest words in the world of ed deform:   class size

Funny, but there's a statement in the movie that they've "tried everything." But
class size (reduction)

And there is just too much Ed Deform house researcher Eric Hanushek in the film, one of the stars of "Waiting for Superman." See: Eric Hanushek Mistates Facts - Again

But then again there's Linda Darling-Hammond.

Dana Goldstein Review of "American Teacher" Raises Important Questions

I thought Dana did a pretty good job pointing out some of the major inconsistencies in the film. Brian Jones and I sat in the blogger peanut gallery with Dana during the screening at Education Nation on Sept. 25. Brian gave her a copy of "The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman." Too bad she didn't compare all 3 films. I think ours has the most consistent logic but I have a feeling Dana won't bother watching it or reviewing it if she does. 

We also sent a copy to Valerie Strauss at her request back in June but not a word.

Here, Susan shamelessly plugs our film once again.

Still Waiting for Superman

Ohanian Comment: OK, below find a warning about movie star worship. My advice is that you should order a copy of The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman and share it with colleagues, neighbors, churches, etc. This movie is unique: it is made by teachers. We MUST stop looking for outside saviors and look to our own for leadership in The Fight.

Here is the subtitle for this review:

Dave Eggers and Matt Damon’s American Teacher is almost as flawed as last year's big school reform movie.

In an otherwise fairly sensible review, Dana Goldstein pronounces, [T]here is little doubt the quality of the teacher corps would improve if the job paid a six-figure salary.

I have grave doubts that this is true. I base my opinion on visiting classrooms in 26 states. I wonder what Goldstein bases her opinion on.

Leonie Haimson had a few things to say about another "favorite" featured in the film:
TEP – The Equity project charter – is not just featured in this movie but also relentlessly promoted in several articles in the NYT, NPR, 60 minutes etc. despite the fact that it has among the worst results of any school in the city. 

Zeke Vanderhoek its founder has attacked the notion that class size and other factors matter – and that teacher quality is the only thing that does.

He has also recruited teachers who moved across the country to be there and then fired them.  In fact, he bragged about how many teachers he’s fired.

I wrote about this charter last year here:

On this year’s scores the students came out on bottom again – and yet the PR spin continues unabated.
More specifically the website it links to; Microsoft Partners in Learning at

Sad, because though I haven’t seen the film, according to many, it appears to be sincerely committed to improving the public’s appreciation of teachers and how hard they work w/ so little pay.  It is too bad that they are participating in this green wash.

Protest Against NYPD Brutality - Friday 9/30 at 5:30pm
In response to NYPD brutality this past Saturday (Sept 24) and the on-going discrimination against people of color (for example, City Councilman Jumaane Williams and City aide Kirsten John Foy were arrested & detained unlawfully by the NYPD simply because they are young African-American who looked like trouble makers), there will be a rally and a march to protest against NYPD brutality.

WHEN: Friday, Sept 30. Start time 5:30pm
WHERE: The rally will start from Zuccotti Park (between Broadway & Liberty St.) in Lower Manhattan, marching toward NYPD headquarter at One Police Plaza in Lower Manhattan.
Source: AM New York

Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits.

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