Waiting for Superman

I finally got a chance to see Waiting for Superman. What a film! I had read about it, and seen it highlighted on Oprah, but wow. I mean, WOW! I had my eyes opened.

The movie follows a handful of children and parents who want a good education and can’t get it unless they live in a place with a good school or their name is drawn in a random lottery.  I totally recommend you see this movie if you haven’t already.

Here are a few things I walked away thinking about.

1. My kids will go to a great school and get a decent education, but that doesn’t mean our broken education system is someone else’s problem. This is a major problem for our society. Schools just pass kids through even though they haven’t mastered the material and then when they get to high school with a third-grade education they drop out. We have over 2,000 “drop out factories” across the U.S. Uh, those kids do not become productive members of society. This was not from the film, but those people are reproducing which has to be compounding this problem.

2. I had no idea kids in public schools are “tracked.” In a lot of public schools, teachers group kids into those who excel, those in the middle and those who are behind. They do this to teach according to the child’s level, but it affects their coursework by the time they reach high school. When I looked back to my high school education I realize now I was tracked in the middle. I always wondered why my best friend was in Advanced Placement (College Prep) courses and I wasn’t . It makes sense now that I realize we were on two different “tracks.”  This makes me want to zero in on my first grader to make sure I do anything I can to ensure she is a leader in the classroom. There’s going to be a whole lot more studying and a whole lot less TV in our house starting today.

And I can’t say for sure, but had I known this when I was deciding whether or not to send my daughter (who just makes the birth date cut off) to kindergarten, maybe I would have waited another year. Then again, maybe she would be bored and not challenged like she is now. And bored kids act up. Oh, and behavior can affect how a child is tracked. So can their appearance, according to the film. Scary, huh? That sheds a whole new light on my Are Your Kids Stylish? If Not Should They Be? post.

3. One of the primary reasons the problem is so hard to fix is because it has become more about keeping the adults happy. It’s not about what’s best for the kids per Michelle Rhee who made some incredible progress in the Washington, D.C. school system. But no good deed goes unpunished. Basically, someone who found a way to make a difference pissed off too many grown ups who gave a lot of campaign money to an opposing mayoral candidate who won. And now, a ridiculously talented change agent who was truly focused on what’s best for the kids is no longer at her job post. Great, huh?  Geoffery Canada was also inspiring – he is worth reading about as well.

Alright, I better cut myself off. This post is getting very long. I could go on, and on and on about the takeaways from this film. But I know I am late in seeing it. So many of you probably already have watched it and I would LOVE to know what you think. Are there any teachers in the bunch? I would love to know what you think of the way the film portrayed teachers and teachers unions. Tell me, tell me what you think.

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