Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity


Posted at 4:06 PM ET, 11/ 4/2010

Has Ravitch hurt 'Superman’s' Oscar ambitions?

By Valerie Strauss

Millions of words have been written about Davis Guggenheim’s “Waiting for Superman” and the education policies it promotes, but now we have a new line of analysis about its impact: What are the chances that the education documentary could win an Academy Award?

In a piece on Movie Line’s Web site, editor S.T. VanAirsdale asked whether education historian Diane Ravitch’s scathing review of Superman in The New York Review of Books will effectively serve to derail the movie’s chances of nabbing an Oscar. The movie is being heavily promoted, with the help of a $2 million grant that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gave to market it worldwide.

In the tough review, which you can find here, Ravitch dissects the film and details its inaccuracies, one by one. Here are excerpts of Ravitch's article:

"The message of the film is clear. Public schools are bad, privately managed charter schools are good. Parents clamor to get their children out of the public schools in New York City (despite the claims by Mayor Michael Bloomberg that the city’s schools are better than ever) and into the charters (the mayor also plans to double the number of charters, to help more families escape from the public schools that he controls). If we could fire the bottom 5 to 10 percent of the lowest-performing teachers every year, says Hoover Institution economist Eric Hanushek in the film, our national test scores would soon approach the top of international rankings in mathematics and science.

"Some fact-checking is in order, and the place to start is with the film’s quiet acknowledgment that only one in five charter schools is able to get the “amazing results” that it celebrates. Nothing more is said about this astonishing statistic. It is drawn from a national study of charter schools by Stanford economist Margaret Raymond (the wife of Hanushek). Known as the CREDO study, it evaluated student progress on math tests in half the nation’s five thousand charter schools and concluded that 17 percent were superior to a matched traditional public school; 37 percent were worse than the public school; and the remaining 46 percent had academic gains no different from that of a similar public school. The proportion of charters that get amazing results is far smaller than 17 percent. Why did Davis Guggenheim pay no attention to the charter schools that are run by incompetent leaders or corporations mainly concerned to make money? Why propound to an unknowing public the myth that charter schools are the answer to our educational woes, when the filmmaker knows that there are twice as many failing charters as there are successful ones? Why not give an honest accounting?

The propagandistic nature of Waiting for “Superman” is revealed by Guggenheim’s complete indifference to the wide variation among charter schools. There are excellent charter schools, just as there are excellent public schools. Why did he not also inquire into the charter chains that are mired in unsavory real estate deals, or take his camera to the charters where most students are getting lower scores than those in the neighborhood public schools? Why did he not report on the charter principals who have been indicted for embezzlement, or the charters that blur the line between church and state? Why did he not look into the charter schools whose leaders are paid $300,000-$400,000 a year to oversee small numbers of schools and students?

Guggenheim seems to believe that teachers alone can overcome the effects of student poverty, even though there are countless studies that demonstrate the link between income and test scores. He shows us footage of the pilot Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier, to the amazement of people who said it couldn’t be done. Since Yeager broke the sound barrier, we should be prepared to believe that able teachers are all it takes to overcome the disadvantages of poverty, homelessness, joblessness, poor nutrition, absent parents, etc.

The movie asserts a central thesis in today’s school reform discussion: the idea that teachers are the most important factor determining student achievement. But this proposition is false. Hanushek has released studies showing that teacher quality accounts for about 7.5-10 percent of student test score gains. Several other high-quality analyses echo this finding, and while estimates vary a bit, there is a relative consensus: teachers statistically account for around 10-20 percent of achievement outcomes. Teachers are the most important factor within schools.

But the same body of research shows that nonschool factors matter even more than teachers. According to University of Washington economist Dan Goldhaber, about 60 percent of achievement is explained by nonschool factors, such as family income. So while teachers are the most important factor within schools, their effects pale in comparison with those of students’ backgrounds, families, and other factors beyond the control of schools and teachers. Teachers can have a profound effect on students, but it would be foolish to believe that teachers alone can undo the damage caused by poverty and its associated burdens.

Read the whole article; there’s a lot more. Movie Line’s S.T. VanAirsdale did, and though he said he didn't see the film, he thinks “Superman’s” Oscar chances might be affected by Ravitch's piece.

He writes, referring to another documentary called “Inside Job," by Charles Ferguson, which takes a deep look into the roots of the country’s financial meltdown:

" ‘Waiting for ‘Superman’ is the most important public-relations coup that the critics of public education have made so far,” Ravitch writes. “Their power is not to be underestimated.” Ouch. More importantly for our admittedly frivolous purposes, though, can I just say Diane Ravitch’s essay is the most important public-relations coup that Sony Pictures Classics, director Charles Ferguson and the rest of the Inside Job team will have at their disposal all year? Ravitch even points out the connection between the pro-charter camp and Wall Street, citing three New York Times stories “about how charter schools have become the favorite cause of hedge fund executives.” In language virtually borrowed from Ferguson’s excellent financial-meltdown exposé, she goes on to conclude:

“Waiting for Superman” is a powerful weapon on behalf of those championing the “free market” and privatization. It raises important questions, but all of the answers it offers require a transfer of public funds to the private sector. The stock market crash of 2008 should suffice to remind us that the managers of the private sector do not have a monopoly on success.

"And just like that, we have an Oscar knife fight on our hands. Fun! I’ll bring the nachos."



Follow my blog every day by bookmarking washingtonpost.com/answersheet. And for admissions advice, college news and links to campus papers, please check out our Higher Education page at washingtonpost.com/higher-ed Bookmark it!

By Valerie Strauss  | November 4, 2010; 4:06 PM ET
Categories:  Charter schools, Diane Ravitch  | Tags:  academy awards, bill gates, charter schools, davis guggenheim, diane ravitch, gates foundation, movie line, new york review of books, oscar, waiting for superman  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Margaret Spellings: The last NCLB defender?
Next: A 'doable' solution to teacher quality

Comments

My hope is that Diane Ravitch steps up her attack on those who perpetuate the corporate attempt at taking over public education by scapegoating teachers and espousing false and misleading information. I am in great admiration of her because she is so entirely knowledgeable. Truly, it is no surprise that Guggenheim didn't want Ravitch in his "documentary" and that Oprah wouldn't put her on her "education" show last month. When Ravitch speaks or writes, she is has such a wealth of information that she completely exposes the "pr spin" cloud that the corporate education profiteers espouse. And unlike other academics also versed in these issues, she is a most eloquent and forceful communicator. Another powerhouse who is "in the trenches" is Karen Lewis out of Chicago. It is my hope that these forceful communicators who have a long education track record, continually get their word out in national publications via newspapers, radios and the likes. It is most unfortunate that Michael Moore seems to cower at this most important issue. I would love readers comments as to why he is mysteriously absent from this issue! There are countless numbers of public school educators imploring him to look into this issue as his documentaries have such public appeal.

Posted by: teachermd | November 4, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Do hollywood people read the NY review of books? If so, it's hard to imagine "Superman" could win as a documentary.

Is there a propaganda category?

Posted by: efavorite | November 4, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Superman is SUPERFRAUD. By using children and parents as for-profit charter props, the greedy fake reformers behind the curtain - for-profit charter operators, billion dollar foundations, hedge fund managers, testing conglomerates, DFER, and media moguls are about spreading FEAR, UNCERTAINTY, and DISINFORMATION (FUD) for the purpose of hiring on the cheap and privatizing public schools.

I'm curious about why Guggenheim and his backers are not spending their millions documenting charter fraud and abuses like the one viewed by thousands via the internet about the non-certified charter teacher (hired on the cheap) at Jamie’s House Charter School in Houston beating a student while another student captured the video on a cell phone.

The student behind the cell phone should receive the Oscar!

http://www.youtube.com/verify_age?next_url=http%3A//www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3D2NfX4n0QPB0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJvWK5tHYO4

Posted by: nfsbrrpkk | November 4, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Waiting for Superman is not showing at a theatre near me.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | November 4, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Why are you afraid of a documentary? No film can counter the gajillions spent by the NEA, AFT, and the hundreds of other "teacher-centric" special interests that deny the voice of other public education stakeholders.

The rant against charters in an earlier comment is an example of the garbage that we are exposed to.

Maybe you are especially nervous that the White House, many big-city school systems, and the two-party leadership in Congress will coalesce to push a definitive public education reform policy that will be able to step up its current traction. Enough momentum to dislodge the traditional teachers-know-it-all-and-cannot-be-evaluated-by-mere-mortals crowd.

Posted by: axolotl | November 4, 2010 8:12 PM | Report abuse

@efavorite: "is there a propaganda category" - Love it!!!!!

Unbelievable that a film so one-side would be considered Oscar material.

Also, two important, complex issues that "Superman" apparently sidesteps:

1.Countries held up as examples: Finland
and Japan are much smaller, homogeneous
countries than the U.S. - even if we were
now able to replicate the Education systems
in those countries, the sheer diversity in
the U.S. student population has to be one of
the most challenging in the world in terms of
delivering equitable educations.

2.The U.S. Public Education system has been
one of the very few means by which we have
had to transmit a sense of cultural identity
based on the ideals of democracy. I think if
the public schools and the educators who
work in them are not better supported, we
will see more fracturing of our society.

- And that doesn't mean a negation of charter
or private schools; there is room for all in
our enormous, very diverse country.

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | November 4, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Agreed. Waiting for Superman? Pure propaganda!

No one denies that there are issues with public education, but to many people the reformers are exacerbating the problems, not coming up with solutions.

Posted by: Jennifer88 | November 4, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Axolotl,

Exactly how much is a gajillion dollars?
If you think that the NEA et al. is outspending Broad, Walton et al. then I believe that you're mistaken.

Posted by: stevendphoto | November 4, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Public schools face great problems. With no honest discussion, or even recognition, of their natures and causes, the repeated attempts at "cures" have been like treating a sick person without knowing the nature or cause of their ailments. They have made the patient far sicker. The latest "prescription" is to kill her.

Posted by: ArjunJanah | November 4, 2010 10:47 PM | Report abuse

PLMichaels and Jennifer - glad you enjoyed my propaganda line - please use it whenever discussing the film.

Posted by: efavorite | November 4, 2010 10:56 PM | Report abuse

"Known as the CREDO study, it evaluated student progress on math tests in half the nation’s five thousand charter schools and concluded that 17 percent were superior to a matched traditional public school; 37 percent were worse than the public school; and the remaining 46 percent had academic gains no different from that of a similar public school."

Why are charter schools only being compared to "similar public school(s)"? Standardized tests are standardized--students aren't compared to students in a similar demographic, and teachers certainly aren't evaluated in comparison with teachers who work under similar conditions. (On the contrary, NCLB is designed to penalize teachers and schools for gaps between demographic groups.) A fair evaluation of charter schools would compare them to all public schools, not just the bottom 20%.

But charter schools seem to be targeted solely at poor communities. If they're "the answer to our educational woes," then why on earth aren't wealthier communities clamoring for them?

Posted by: bhorn1 | November 4, 2010 10:58 PM | Report abuse

"Axolotl,

Exactly how much is a gajillion dollars?
If you think that the NEA et al. is outspending Broad, Walton et al. then I believe that you're mistaken.
Posted by: stevendphoto "

Don't worry about axolotl/Sarah.

She has indicated that she'd ask presidents if they take responsibility for not letting interns give them blow jobs and Catholics priests if they take responsibility for not abusing children.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | November 4, 2010 11:23 PM | Report abuse

I think Ravitch's critique of the documentary has some truth behind it. I believe it portrayed all public schools to be bad, and that only the select students who could go to an alternative type of school would be receive a decent education. Although "Superman" was an eye opening story of the need for change in our education system, it was also lacking, the things Ravitch is saying are true.

Posted by: adc09 | November 5, 2010 12:17 AM | Report abuse

"Why propound to an unknowing public the myth that charter schools are the answer to our educational woes, when the filmmaker knows that there are twice as many failing charters as there are successful ones? Why not give an honest accounting?"

Why not give an honest accounting, indeed? How many more traditional urban schools are failing than not? She seems to have regularly ignore that topic. In so doing she categorically minimizes her position on this controversial issue.

She also fails to discuss why Obama/Duncan champion charters as so desirable, the same way Bush/Paige/Spelling did. Bipartisan Washington support is rare on any issue and rarer still to be pushed to the back burner.

Diane Ravitch is correct to call into question the whole issue of charter schools as the solution to our achievement gap and/or urban education in general. There are many charter schools that are a joke and should never have been granted charters in the first place.

However, her blind notion that we must preserve public education at all costs, knowing full well charter schools ARE public schools, very much clouds her logic. As she has noted, there are good traditional public schools and bad, the same with charter schools. Take the good and do what you can to bring them to scale, traditional or charter, and throw the rest in the dumpster. Only do it now; don't wait for another generation of poor/minority youngsters to be lost to inertia.

She also conveniently sidesteps the issue of why so many urban parents stake such high expectations on their children "winning" the lottery to get into a charter school.

Getting into a charter school empowers parents to FINALLY have a choice as to where to send their children to school; a choice previously roadblocked by inferior economic family conditions and a choice previously afforded only to families of wealth. It also provides poor/minority families a SAFE place to send their children for 7-10 hours a day as opposed to numerous unsafe public schools for six hours a day. Ravitch never raises these legitimate concerns, never places herself in the shoes of these inner city parents to give a true account as to why charter schools are such an unmitigated luxury in theirs and their children's lives.

Why not give an honest account, indeed!

Posted by: phoss1 | November 5, 2010 6:59 AM | Report abuse

Yes, phoss1 - a choice indeed - unfortunately, according to all the research, it's more often than not a worse choice than the public school. Charters simply are not the solution. But I realize most folks' minds are made up and don't want to be confused by the facts.

Valerie, your work here has to be the best in the country. Thank you for all your effort, including bringing so many superb voices to the table.

Posted by: jerryeads | November 5, 2010 7:35 AM | Report abuse

Why are you afraid of a documentary? No film can counter the gajillions spent by the NEA, AFT, and the hundreds of other "teacher-centric" special interests that deny the voice of other public education stakeholders.


Exactly-axolotl-
About time the public had some say rather than the educrats.

How can they possibly defend their position and abhorrent failure?

Posted by: Reading101 | November 5, 2010 8:19 AM | Report abuse

How can guggenheim and Duncan defend their position (or should it be called propaganda) about Charter schools, or their dismissal of poverty as an overarching issue in education.

How does it help to expect that high quality teachers alone will solve the problems of public education.

Posted by: efavorite | November 5, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Efav - u are too hung up on charters. They are not the enemy, but rather part of the solution--for The Children. Perhaps that is why you missed it.

As for poverty, the current administration recognizes poverty as a root of many social ills, including a significant contributor do generally awful public education. (Poverty can't possibly explain the state of DCPS.) However, it cannot cure that swiftly. Another major variable, teacher quality, especially removing the ineffective, unskilled, uncommitted, and illiterate, can be addressed quickly with good results. The administration can also create conditions for the further development of the good teachers we have. Why are you afraid of that? Is it the competition?

To Philly -- vulgarity will get you no where here, but perhaps it will where you usually hang out, and from the sound of it, most of us don't want to know. As for the Catholic Church, I have never had anything to do with it. You obviously have, and have been deeply troubled as a result, we all can see. Please get the help you deserve; it is there for you.

Posted by: axolotl | November 5, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Charter schools will only succeed where traditional schools haven't if they have a sound curriculum, good administrators and support for their teachers. They will also have an advantage if they can exclude trouble making students.

Posted by: celestun100 | November 5, 2010 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Sarah,

efavorite exactly stated your point about charter schools explicitly in the post under the heading "Where Kline Stands on Education Policy." Perhaps you didn't read it, or perhaps you forgot, or perhaps you have a selective memory. Whatever the case, your points pass by many "as an idle wind."

Oh yeah, Sarah, please continue reading. I've put in some personal digs just for you in my comments to Reading101.
___________________________________________

Reading101,

An "educrat" is anyone who argues or promotes education policy and is not in education. They are usually politicians or just regular people who have an ax to grind. And it is because of this that I think your new emperor's costume fits you well.

And by the way, the question "How can they possibly defend their position and abhorrent failure?" implies that it cannot be done and that they are failures. It is not only an appeal to ignorance but it also contains a hasty generalization about all teachers.

You not only wear the emperor's new clothes but your exposed parts are showing. Please put some clothes on before you scare The Children.

Posted by: DHume1 | November 5, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

No, David, an educrat is a career education administrator, manager, researcher, professor, teacher union officials, special-interest group lobbyist who, with blinders, dithers and generally wants no change. They revel in the process of it all, paying no attention to whether the system produces educated students. Their status is from position, not accomplishment, and they tend to have shelter from being evaluated or fired for performance reasons. Many on this blogue, perhaps you, seem like they could be educrats, or wannabe educrats. Isn't this definition more on-target than yours?

Posted by: axolotl | November 5, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Sarah,

Sadly, I'm just like you. I just got the shivers.

And, by the by, I was mocking you with your own words from previous blogs. TTFN

Posted by: DHume1 | November 5, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

DHume1

I love axolotl`s response;

If you were invested in children,you wouldn`t think so egocentrically.
The movie indicates that in 2020 there will be a 28 percent literacy success rate in the U.S.-A 72% failure.Shall we let you lead till then?

Dr.Ravitch had every chance to consider the research from the Reid Lyon team at the NICHD-that poverty and a history of parents that struggled academically led to homes with weak literacy stimulus and communication and weak oral vocabulary development-and caused a condition known to be (neurological and NOT PHONICS)as weak phonological awareness and it could be made profoundly better with instruction in phonemic awareness that SYNTHESIZED the phonemes and activated the brain to read and spell-very early so new neuronal pathways can be formed-
Reading First GOT KILLED-WHY?Publishers didn`t like it-and the lobbying began-very sad.

Posted by: Reading101 | November 5, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Dear DHume1

Your egocentric nature allows you to defend a position that supports the adults working in schools but not the children and their parents-
Accountability is here to stay and as much as you may stamp your feet a 60% failure rate in Reading in Grade 4 is in tremendous need of a watchdog.
Teach them to read with proper research based instruction day 1 and teach them math calculations that make sense-go back to basics and grow incrementally the way we teach music-the tests will show marvelous improvements.

Most teachers need training in proper instructional methodology.

Posted by: Reading101 | November 5, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Just love reading101's response. And besides, I was just using you as a catalyst to mock Sarah (Did you notice how I did it again, but with you this time? Hmmm, I don't think you did).

Nevertheless, let my egocentric nature get to work on you this time; you obviously missed the biting irony that I threw around for Sarah, so I will be a little more explicit with you. I will go slow so that you can follow my instructional, step-by-step methodology. I will even throw in some redundancy.

Step 1: Words are wanton things, reading101. And I do not think you fully understand them, their content, or their purpose. I used Sarah's exact words from earlier blogs to attack her and her positions in an effort to show how similar she is to the very people she fumes at. This type of writing style is called satire. I was not as effective as I hoped, for Sarah didn't get it. She thought I was playing at being a dictionary or something.

Step 2: And here, I think you need a watch dog of your own before you blame others, especially teachers, for your OWN mistakes:

"Accountability is here to stay and as much as you may stamp your feet [run-on] a 60% failure rate in Reading in Grade 4 is in tremendous need [should be "for"] a watchdog."

Perhaps if someone taught you using the "right" teaching methodology, using a step-by-step approach, you would not have made these mistakes. I got your back from now on, though. When you make a mistake, I'll be sure to tell you. I think I would be a great teacher.

Step 3: See, I was mocking you this time. I played upon the ideas of teaching methodologies and your own punctuation mistakes in Step 2. I also played upon the idea of what it means to be a teacher and how it is not as easy as you or Sarah point out.

Step 4: I am not an educational outside/inside/underside/overside expert like yourself or Sarah, but I am pretty sure most schools are doing the following:

"Teach them to read with proper research based instruction day 1 and teach them math calculations that make sense-go back to basics and grow incrementally the way we teach music-the tests will show marvelous improvements."

Of course, I'm sure you might find one or two schools out there who do not use "proper research-based [I added the hyphen for you just in case you missed this jab as well] instruction," but most districts adopt programs and textbooks that are grounded in "proper research-based instruction." Most states or Districts require that. I am sad to say that they did not adopt your program, though. You sound like such a "reasonable" person.

Step 7: Yep, you are probably catching on by now.

Step 8: I'm not going to even touch upon your other comments because I really do not know anything about them. I tend not to blog on things I do not know much about. Too bad others do, though.

Step 9: I wasn't mocking you in the last sentence, but I was was mocking someone named Sarah.


Posted by: DHume1 | November 5, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Oh, David, you ignorant *lut, how you hook up with gamey ideas and show your "wanton" (and we ain't talking egg rolls, eh) disregard for logic and common sense. You've revealed yourself, in Linkedin no less, as an academic wannabe, you miserable wretch. Your intellectual lapdance w Big Diane brought you spasms of joy, as you dribbled your thoughts into a fruit salad of academic claptrap, or what passes for same at Last Gulch Jr. College where you hold an endowed chair. One last thing: you are quite obviously an education expert of a very high order, fully invested in today's successes in big-city public school systems. You should be proud.

Posted by: axolotl | November 5, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I am proud. It was a very tasty fruit salad indeed. Yummy, yummy.

I know it makes you feel better to brand me, to categorize me, to put me in your cage so you can feel better about who you are as a person. But nope, you're wrong about me. If anything, I am just the Fool who mocks "foolish wits."

Thanks for the job offer in education, but I think I'll keep my simple day job.

"Methinks my outside hath charmed thee," for you're going around looking for me on social networking sites. It's a little creepy, but keep on looking, Sarah, keep on looking.

By the way, I seem to remember a saying or two from you that said something like . . . what was that again. . . oh, yeah, here it is: "vulgarity will get you no where here, but perhaps it will where you usually hang out, and from the sound of it, most of us don't want to know."

Now, that's gotta hurt.

Posted by: DHume1 | November 6, 2010 2:39 AM | Report abuse

David,
On-target, yeah, you confirm in your last, Bush-style victory claim. It's said that vulgarians like you don't recognize what they are doing. Charm you ain't got, fella.. No need for SN searches when u stick up like an erect finger, eh? "Sarah" (!)

Posted by: axolotl | November 6, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Sarah,

Vulgarians? I never will never make references or insinuations to lap dances or erections or women of ill-repute. Please refrain from your sexual insults and intimations. It is difficult to believe any position you make when you are using them. You can insult me in lots of different ways, but for someone who cares so much about "The Children" you sure do have a potty mouth.

And my victory sentence came from The Wiggles, not Bush.I was simply extending your salad metaphor. Geez, you need to keep up on your cultural references.

Posted by: DHume1 | November 6, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

The Gulen Charter schools are guilty of Visa Fraud, their schools Magnolia Science Academy, Horizon Science Academy, Harmony Science Academy and Sonoran Science Academy are bringing foreign teachers without credentials to the USA under h1-b fraud. American Tax payers are footing this bill, you will note that they have more h1-b visas for teachers than the largest school district in the USA (LAUSD)
At a time when great American Teachers are getting pink slipped the Islamic Gulen Movement is dismantling the American Public School System one state at a time. The Gulen Charter Schools have robbed American Taxpayers of over $1 billion in Educational funds over the span of the last 10 years. Throught the network of Gulen Foundations, and bribes via their interfaith dialogue, they have managed to snow job members of congress, local politics, local religious leaders, and local academia. Free dinners and free trips to Turkey to side step their true agenda which is to dominate and control American Education, politics, interfaith dialog, police, media and military. As Fethullah Gulen has done world wide and in his native Turkey which got him exiled for attempting to overthrow a secular government.
http://www.h1bwage.com/index.php?q=science%20teacher
http://perimeterprimate.blogspot.com/2010/07/gulen-schools-and-their-booming-h1b.html

Posted by: SalesA1 | November 6, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

David: Sorry you are offended. Sarah.

Posted by: axolotl | November 6, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Isn't the whole point of Waiting for Superman to open the conversation to what works and what doesn't in schools. I am a teacher and I am constantly shocked at choices schools make that are not in the best interest of their clients - the students. Yes, there are great public schools and yes, there are great charter schools. The film does not ever state that all charter schools are great, nor does it ever say that all public schools are bad - it only shows examples of several schools who have defied the odds. Why feel threatened if you are a great public school - this film serves as a strong platform for you to show your population how you ARE achieving. However, the reality is there are many AWFUL schools serving millions of students across the country.

As to the comment that the teacher pales in comparison to the effect of the background/outside environment of the child.... Wow - let's just give up now. If that is what you are saying, then there truly is no hope in any school. I would vigorously argue that point because I have had life changing teachers and I have been a life changing teacher for many students with incredibly varied backgrounds.

The true question comes down to administration. There is too much fat at many upper levels which needs to be cut. Campus administrators MUST be at the top of their game and truly be ready to face the hard decisions with teachers who are not performing. There must be an open conversation with data and responsive efforts to meet the needs of that data. If students are struggling, the administrative team and teachers must work to diagnose the reasons why and use prescriptive teaching to adjust their instruction for EACH student. Teachers must take responsibility for their students and be ready to deal with the reality that teaching is one of the most difficult jobs out there. That being said, remember the whole goal of our system is to produce students who are able to successfully and intelligently work and live in our society. Great teachers are able to guide students to independent thinking - Thomas Carruthers once said, "A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary."

Posted by: ahudson1 | November 9, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company