October 8, 2010

Waiting For Superman


On Tuesday, BabyGirl and I attended a special screening of the documentary Waiting For Superman. WOW! What an amazing film. I’ve been following the buzz about it for several months and watched the trailer back in May some time. I’d heard the buzz from Sundance. I had high expectations and I was not disappointed.

The other day I wrote about two teachers that made a difference in my life. When I wrote that post I didn’t know I’d be seeing this film. I wrote it because I’d heard about Waiting for Superman and wanted to put my perspective on what good teachers can do.

The documentary by Davis Guggenheim, the Academy Award®-winning director of AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH, is a first hand glimpse into the public education system in the U.S. and how it is affecting our children. Guggenheim profiles five beautiful children and the educational dreams they and their families have for the future. He also talks to change-makers in the educational system. People who are so passionate about good education that they left ‘the system’ to make radical changes in the charter school segment of the public schools.

I cried. Not only for all the kids who get the short end of the stick year after year, but also because one person truly can make a difference. People like Geoffrey Canada, Bill Strickland, and Michelle Rhee. People who are strange in their belief that kids deserve quality teachers.

I was angry, mad and frustrated. Not only because I know how ridiculous the school district/central office setup is but at the power the teachers unions wield in keeping our kids down. I’m not a fan of unions and I’m not here to debate their value and place. But when a collective bargaining group has so much power that horrible teachers can’t be terminated EVER, there’s a problem. The dollar costs of their ineptitude are staggering but the long-term impact on our children, our economy, our justice system and our education system are unacceptable!

I was overjoyed. And I felt their sadness. I had a lump in my throat at the end of the film. I won’t tell you why because I don’t want to give anything away. Suffice it to say, it was very moving and I felt very invested in what was going to happen to these kids.

So why would I want to see this movie if I am a homeschooler? Why would I speak out and support public education? Because I was a product of it. Because I’ve sat through classes with teachers who shouldn’t be teaching pet training, much less kids! And because I pay taxes and I deserve to know the truth and speak up for the reform I think should happen.

I just so happen to live in a state with an abysmal educational record. That’s not saying much given the craptastic state of most public schools in the US. I also have a choice. I can choose to homeschool. CycleGuy and I made the decision for me to homeschool BabyGirl. Like those who choose private school, homeschooling can be a huge financial sacrifice. But I guarantee you, I can do more with $9,000 (the average expenditure per child in public school) than any school district. Most of us could. Yet year after year, we give carte blanche to total strangers to teach our youth. And daily we secretly pray that they don’t screw these kids up.

If public education was a business, it would be bankrupt. Well, actually it is. Maybe not financial, but on nearly every other front it is. But it’s like most things when human capital is the key factor. Customer service is non-existent in the public school system. And we’ve accepted the kick in the teeth year after year.

We’ve accepted, as the norm, that kids won’t graduate from high school, that reading significantly below grade level is OK, that math knowledge is optional if it’s too hard. We stopped asking questions of the educational leadership long ago. And we’ve looked the other way and made and/or accepted excuses of poor teachers.

Maybe this film with be a wake up call. Education is not only for the privileged. Education is important not only for the individua but also for our country. We can’t continue to fall behind.

What can you do?

1. Go see the film – Waiting For Superman is in limited release so check their site for a theater near you.

2. Buy your movie ticket online and get at $15 Gift Code to give to a classroom of your choice on Donors Choose.

3. Don’t settle – your kids may be getting a good education but these are still YOUR tax dollars. Speak up and demand better. Take Action!

Disclosure: BabyGirl and I were provided admission to the screening courtesy of Savvy Source. We were also each given a $15 Gift Card to donate to the project of our choosing at Donors Choose. The views and opinions contained herein are mine and I was not required to blog or state any position or opinion in exchange for attending the screening. I’m writing about it because every child is worth it!


{ 1 comment }

Life with Kaishon October 9, 2010 at 4:08 pm

We are so blessed to live in an area with a wonderful school district. I work in Philadelphia and am closely associated with the public schools there. My heart breaks often for the children in the bad neighborhoods. Truly devastating. Can’t wait to see the movie.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: