Waiting for “Superman”

I know I’m late to the game here, but I highly recommend that you see this documentary on the failure of our public schools.  Waiting for ‘Superman’  isn’t flawless, but it is very much worth your time.  It starts a bit slow but ultimately rewards your patience.  The “stars” of the film are compelling people, especially the kids.  The parents show that what James Tooley has found all over the world is true here in America as well — parents, even those without a lot of education, income, or experience with schools, want to do their best for their kids and discerning ones can tell good schools from bad ones.  Caveat: The lottery scene is downright depressing.

Ultimately, I think we have to separate public administration from public funding to drastically improve educational outcomes.   But until then, these model charter schools and the individuals who strive to make them work provide hope to the people essentially trapped in a failing, inefficient system.

The film almost makes me want to run out and start a private or charter school.

5 thoughts on “Waiting for “Superman”

  1. All institutions need occasional renewal–as Jefferson said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants.” The public school system is definitely subject to some tyrants. Even so, the charter school and private school systems likely succeed because they attract a higher density of children with involved parents. More than educational policy, non-union teachers, and curriculum reform, involved parents are the key to educational success.

  2. I thought The Cartel was better. It was better produced and examined more issues into why schools fail. While The Cartel did explore specific cases, it had less of a feel of a case-study and more investigative journalism. If you enjoyed Waiting For Superman, I think you will like The Cartel even more.

  3. Interesting movie. I was glad to see that the suburban schools did not escape criticism. This is one issue rarely discussed: kids come to suburban schools better prepared and their parents have the resources to help them when the schools fail them. This was certainly my experience in the Falls Church City Virginia schools. Very highly rated, but expectations were very low and the teaching staff very uneven. After 4th grade, I put my kids in private schools.

    There were a couple of things that were not addressed, however. (1) Science and math ARE very important but what about English and History? (2) Where are the new teachers coming from to replace the bottom 10 %? Who will teach all of those highly skilled workers we need as identified by Gates? (3) How do we address the salary issue? Public employees are unlikely to be paid 6 figure salaries as Rhee proposed. (4) What about the impact of non-English speakers in elementary and middle schools? This is a huge and costly problem in urban areas. Will we allow it to continue? (5) What about discipline? Fears of giving offense and in other places fear of litigious parents results in often no disciplinary action at all being taken against disruptive kids. (6) Not all kids can be reached and not all kids can or need to go to a four year college. What are we going to do for them?

    Lots left unanswered but the fact that the unions were tagged with a majority of the blame was good. That is certainly the truth. Private sector unions are absolutely necessary – in the public sector, no.

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