I have taken an interest in helping public schools. It didn’t just happen it was an evolution. One that echoes the film “Waiting for Superman” which I saw opening weekend.
When I walked up to the theater and saw “sold out” at 8pm on a Sunday Night, I thought WOW this film is really making a fantastic impact. I actually was able to get the last seat, middle of the theater. The reality was that it was playing in a small (screener sized/30-40 seat) theater here in Los Angeles. Which was amazing, because it came with comfy big black leather chairs.
The theater was full, but I was curious who was going to this movie on a Sunday night, so I asked. The couple next to me came, because she was a teacher and had worked at one of the schools mentioned in the film. Another gentlemen was the same. He use to teach at one of the schools mentioned in the film. There was a mix, and I didn’t ask all attendees, but my guess is that people will see this movie for one of two reasons.
They are an angry and frustrated parent or they are an angry and frustrated teacher. The problem is that: the inefficiency of some bureaucrats that mess up the system, the segment of bad teachers that don’t give a 100% and the irresponsible parents who probably shouldn’t be raising children in the first place – all of these – will most likely not see this film, and they should.
So, let me get back to how I got here. over 6 years ago, I sat in a room at a Los Angeles area school as little slips of paper were pulled out of a cardboard box to see if my son was going to go to our selected “good” school. It was my first lottery experience, and it was mind shattering that my pride and joy would come down to a lottery game to see if he would be allowed to what I had researched and perceived to be a good school in our community. With over 90 people and just a limited number of spots open for students, our son did not get in. This is the exact story that is told a number of times in the documentary by Davis Guggenheim. We turned to our local home school just 3 block away as did several other families that we new from our pre-school the year before.
What was a moment of anger several years ago, turned into a new (volunteer) career of child, community and educational advocacy. Since that moment nearly 7 years ago, I have taken to task the system. I have fought to better our home-school and in so doing try to inspire others including a generation of new parents to make their own world a better place.
Believe me, I am not pollyanna about this at all. I know all too well the various black holes that our children fall through; including Unions, State Legislatures, Local Beauracrats, Financial issues, weak Politicians, Parental inadequacies, personal egos and the list goes on. Some teachers get a bad wrap, while others shouldn’t be teaching. The same can be said for parents, administrators, etc.
You want a better school? Get off your backside and challenge – support – help – change – advise – communicate with and make better the school in your neighborhood – And do it NOW. If it is a dead end, realize that and move to an alternative option. Charter, Parochial/Private or other alternatives.
The point in the movie, I suppose is my point. Stop waiting! In fact, many have stopped a long time ago and in those areas, they have created some say forced change – this is where Superman is Real. Superman is all of us, each of us, together… which adds a tremendous value in and of itself to the teaching of the next generation. Personally, we did not run to a private school at $30,000 a year for kindergarten thinking it would give our kids a better environment to raise a child.
Finally, what prompted me to post this?
I don’t want to throw a wet towel on the film. It makes an important statement… but I am a bit cynical perhaps because of my personal experience and first-hand knowledge. When I received this email… (below) – I think my first instinct when watching the film may have been confirmed. I ask you… Is #waitingforsuperman documentary filmaking at its finest, or abuse of a serious national need veiled in cause marketing?
The other issue is CHOICE. If you have two shoe repair shops on the same block – they compete for your business. If poor performing public schools, parents, teachers, administrators, politicians continue (as they have in some areas) then a new school is going to set up on the same block. That is what charters are. Charters saw a need, or actually responded and developed from a need. Are they better than public? That 100% depends on the community you are in.
A must read on Charters can be found here in the article “A’s and F’s for Charter Schools” – http://tinyurl.com/29ga8mm
Within this article there are several additional links to studies, info, research that I suggest you check out as well.
The key here is (in my opinion) choice – and being a fully engaged parent to identify and understand what your goals are for your child and be certain that you navigate the process to your best ability.
Why is the process so painful?It’s personal (these are our children) and our future leaders.It’s financial (this is our tax money) and someone’s job.