I am thinking about two young teachers from is 131 in New Yorks Chinatown who spent their Saturdays taking immigrant kids on walks around the city, encouraging them to make observations, ask questions, and wonder about the implications of what they had seen. . Im remembering the year a science teacher and I took a group of eighth grade feisty females to art museums, cafes, and bookstores every Friday after school. Im thinking about a fifth grade teacher at ps 11 in Chelsea who designed and implemented a social justice curriculum requiring children to observe and write about what was unfair in their communities and then develop action plans to make changes. These days I get emails from former nyu students, telling tales of being compelled to follow scripted reading programs. Theyre dismayed at the lack of value placed on the teaching of writing and at the obsession with test scores. They love working with students, but they are disheartened to have such little voice in what happens in their classrooms. .
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Now she travels around the country advancing the idea that unions are the enemy of school reform, and she has been persuasive. . She is not alone in her disdain for the unions, as we have seen in Wisconsin, Ohio, and New Hampshire, where some people place blame on unions for everything from low pie test scores to budget deficits. In New York city today, teachers applying for tenure go through a rigorous process of compiling a portfolio, securing letters of endorsement, and being observed and interviewed. . The vast majority of teachers ive known over the past 28 years, twelve spent in New York city as a literacy coach, principal, and university instructor, have been conscientious in their commitment to students, something the film ignores. . teachers do not seek job security at the expense of students welfare, as Rhee asserts; they seek to be treated as professionals. These issues are complex and it wont be a superman who will address them. . The films melodramatic portrayal of moms too poor to pay catholic school tuition, its blanket condemnation of unions, and its presentation of dubious statistics will do little to help. Other, more constructive, ideas abound. For every dedicated educator shown in the film who is working at a charter or private schools in New York, there are thousands of equally committed and creative teachers working within the public school system. In addition to being excellent teachers in the classroom, they devote hours of free time to their students beyond the school day.
Waiting for Superman casts a rosy glow on geoffrey canada, founding principal of Harlem Success Academy, who narrates a short cartoon in which a teacher walks from student to student, opening heads and melisande pouring something from a pitcher. . It should be simple, he says. A teacher filling her students heads with knowledge and sending them on their way. . But weve made it complicated. This feels like a leap back into the past; what we really want is students who are much more active participants in their own learning. Waiting for Superman accuses teachers unions of being the monkey wrench in school reform. . If only we could torpedo teacher tenure and move to merit pay, insists the films other star, michelle Rhee, everything would improve. Rhee, former chancellor of the washington,. Schools, closed 23 schools in one year and offered teachers huge salary increases, if they would agree to forfeit tenure. .
This is the first in donation a series of blog posts by maureen. Too many of our inner city students are not thriving in school. . Waiting for Superman, a compelling documentary produced by davis Guggenheim, to raise the question: What is our obligation to other peoples children? The film is an indictment of the public school system with particular criticism aimed at teachers unions, the villains of the piece. . Heralded as inspiring and one of the best films of the year, it left me heartsick. The movie is slick and manipulative, advocating a school reform agenda that pushes charter schools and teacher accountability tied to students standardized test scores. Guggenheim deserves credit for shining a light on education, but his solutions are simplistic and ignore the fact that societal inequities are more powerful than any force teachers can bring to bear in schools. . The pedagogy of rote learning, endorsed in the film, is one that many contemporary educators have abandoned in favor of a more student-centered approach that recognizes that knowledge is a process of coming to understand, connecting nurse new information to previously held concepts.
Wont it be interesting to see if it succeeds in reshaping the national debate about how to fix our broken educational system? Wouldnt it be something if viewers actually do what the filmmakers suggest they do at the very end of their film—go out and get involved! Do they give academy Awards for that? We know many teachers who have avoided watching the documentary. Waiting for Superman because of what theyve heard about the films view of public school teachers. We asked teacher educator maureen Barbieri for her thoughts about the film and the messages it sends. After working as a teacher, principal, and literacy coach for many years, maureen currently teaches literacy courses at the University of New Hampshire, volunteers at a local elementary school, and takes care of two young grandchildren every week. .
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Thats exactly how all these families see this: Without a good education, their kids will simply have no future. The odds are mightily stacked against them, of course; for every opening in a charter school, there are literally hundreds of applicants. Its heartbreaking to see that only two out of the five kids weve come to know here will win their lotteries, and more heartbreaking still to realize how often this is happening to kids we dont know about. The biggest controversies created by, waiting for Superman are likely to be the accolades it gives charter schools (many of them clearly have found the formula to turn out successful students) and the charges it levels against the major teachers unions. While praising individual teachers, the film comes down hard against some of the self-protective practices imposed by the unions. Forbidden to fire teachers, for instance, some schools swap their worst instructors in hopes of finding a better fit.
(Heads-up, progressives: The teachers unions are among the biggest contributors to political campaigns, and 90 of their money goes to democrats.). But there is a third theme running through the film, and it is a hopeful one, for it focuses on some of the heroic teachers and administrators who have come up with new educational methods that work: geoffrey canada is the well-known president and ceo. C.s struggling schools; and david levin and mike feinberg are the disillusioned teachers who formed kipp (Knowledge Is Power Program) and forged a nationwide group of 82 free, open-enrollment and independent analyse schools. Among the films other talking heads are bill Gates, again speaking eloquently of the business world's crying need for educated workers; Eric Hanushek of Stanford University, who has researched the profound relationship between teacher quality, class size and student achievement; and Randi weingarten, the formidable. Waiting for Superman may very well be the strongest polemic uop ever framed in a documentary film format.
He offers no specific plan to fix whats broken, and theres very little said in the film about the no child Left Behind proposals from george bush or Barack Obamas Change the Equation plan. Guggenheim merely lays out the parameters of the nations educational crisis in a way that carries a powerful emotional—and intellectual—jolt. He does this in several ways. First, he pulls together a bunch of statistics about school dropout rates, rankings of math and reading skills, failing school districts and their relationship to failing neighborhoods (many schools fail first, it turns out the ease with which teachers get tenure (and the virtual impossibility. Etc.—and he presents these stats in simple, hand-drawn (or so they seem) graphics that are inserted throughout the film. Much of this is not new but shocking nevertheless—e.
G., in the last 30 years. Educational spending per student has more than doubled, yet our reading and math scores remain flat while virtually every other economically advanced country spends far less and gets much better results. But statistics cant tell the human cost of our failing schools. To do that, guggenheim and his documentary team scoured the country to find some bright kids whose economic and social circumstances have kept them stuck in dropout factories. (Many dropouts correctly conclude that a diploma from these schools would be worthless; it couldnt even get them in the door of a college admissions office.) The filmmakers picked five kids who try to change their dismal educational prospects by applying for lotteries to win. The five are: Anthony, a washington,. Fifth-grader who lost his father to drugs and is being raised by grandparents; Francisco, a first-grader in the Bronx, with a hard-working, college-educated single mom; daisy, a fifth-grader in East. Who wants to be a doctor and has already applied to the college of her choice; bianca, a kindergartener in Harlem, whose single mother can no longer afford tuition in the catholic school right across the street; and Emily, an eighth-grader in affluent Silicon Valley. The cameras follow these students and their families for an entire year; theyre there when the kids get up in the morning, when they study in the afternoon, and, eventually, when they and their families sit and wait for the right little ball to drop—or.
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The public education system is tasked with not educating, but also socializing and defining students sense of self as they mature through. Controversy is already swirling around this powerful and important documentary exposing the shocking essay state of Americas educational system and vividly demonstrating how it is failing the nation and devastating the lives of individual families. Sep 23, 2010, after his Academy Award-winning documentary, an Inconvenient Truth and now. Waiting for Superman, its obvious that director davis Guggenheim knows a thing or two about using the power of film to stir up a national debate. But whereas in the former film he was, in essence, preaching to the choir—as its audience largely consisted of progressive types who held convictions on global warming similar to his own—in his newest effort, on American education, its as if hes asking those individual choir. No matter what weve read or heard about the countrys broken educational system, most of us have no idea just how huge and complex the problem really is; we simply dont know whats been going on in our classrooms. Thats what Guggenheim tries to show us in waiting for Superman.
The finale of the film is a heartbreaking scene. The viewer watches as all five children along with their families wait to see if their numbers are called in the lotteries for a place in the charter school. Futures are determined by the drop of a ball rather than hard work and effort. Conflict perspective, as defined by david. Newman, views the structure of society as a source of inequality, which benefits some groups at the expense of other groups (Newman 19). Waiting for Superman demonstrates inequalities in education by highlighting inner-city minorities and their struggle for a proper education. The defined conflict wall in this documentary is between the welfare of the children seeking a proper education and the welfare of the teachers, seeking to maintain their employment at any cost through the use of unions. Education becomes the focal point for this analysis of the conflict perspective. Newman states, the most powerful institutional agent of socialization after the family, is education (Newman 67).
an eye opening, to many, look at the failings of the. The film follows five students across the. S., who range in grade level from kindergarten to eighth grade, as they try and escape the public school system through a lottery for a chance admission to a charter school. Guggenheim lays the blame for the failing public education system at the feet of the various teachers unions, and makes a plea for the public in general to get involved in reforming the system. By analyzing waiting for Superman through a sociological perspective, issues of inequality will be explained using the theoretical approach show more content, there is one major problem with them though; there are never enough enrollment slots to accommodate all children. Therefore as stated earlier, most of these childrens futures are determined by luck alone.
This was alarming especially being aware of real life examples and videos that were caught on tape of how teachers use their classroom time. Even more alarming the results of school testing that illustrates a clear image- thesis schools are not producing what they should, and education system in institutions are not working! It does not take a genius to realize that something has to change. You cant have a great school without great teachers is a beautiful" mentioned in the film. Although government officials have sought out to reform education by providing funds or special programs, the real problem is finding effective and passionate teachers who truly seek to make a difference in the world by giving the gift of knowledge. If the system can effectively evaluate its teachers worldwide, and rid of teachers who are not doing an adequate job or benefitting the students or institution, they should no be teaching. Time is precious, especially time in the classroom and hopes for a new age of education system is possible. If there are more great teachers in our school systems, the us may have a brighter future. If there are qualified and effective schools, the children of America would not have to fight for a spot to receive education we all deserve.
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The concept of education as a vital part of life and success is universal, regardless of how it is done. Unfortunately, regardless of its importance best in society, the education system does not always accomplish its goals. The documentary, waiting for Superman, was an excellent illustration of the large problems we face here in America. From our disappointing comparisons of education in the us compared to other countries, and the system of the government (impoverished neighborhoods, poor and failing education institutions) is a crisis that should be addressed and brought to public attention. Although there have been countless attempts to reform education, increase budgets, and implement new programs, the education system in the. Is not doing its job entirely and as effective as society needs it to be to foster the future generations. The film is alarming to the sad truth: there are teachers out there who dont care about what they. There are teachers who use the contract that they signed into to take advantage of their role, and not do what they signed up.