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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Waiting for Superman

Reportedly, some American school districts are sending the public taxpayers confusing and seemingly “disconnected” messages.  Ostensibly, the hue and cry for some schools is that they are under extreme budget constraints and are forced to cut many budget “items” as well as the heart of education-- teachers.  Yet, despite these cuts, some people still see schools spending millions of dollars on bond issues, thousands on expensive electronic “gadgetry”, thousands for upgrading athletic facilities and equipment, thousands for sending staff to various state and national conferences, and even some budget monies buying “incentives” for students taking state assessments.  Unfortunately, on top of the spending, some schools have apparently seen declining enrollments—which means less state funding.
For a nation that proudly stated it would leave ‘no child behind’, statistically, America continues to do so at disturbing rates. Despite increased educational spending coupled with shallow political promises to save our schools, our struggling public-education system (once number one in the world) often forsakes the education of millions of children—leaving some behind.

Fortunately, documentarian Davis Guggenheim (who directed Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth) will soon remind us that education “statistics” have names: Anthony, Francisco, Daisy, Bianca, and Emily, whose stories make up the riveting groundwork of WAITING FOR SUPERMAN. This poignant film (release: October, 2010) will follow several promising kids through a “system”  that apparently inhibits, rather than encourages, academic achievement, Guggenheim has undertaken an extensive review of public education, surveying  what some have called “drop-out factories” and “academic sinkholes.”   He carefully dissected the system and its seemingly obstinate problems—including how budget monies could be spent more wisely(especially for  first-rate teachers)

Thankfully, Guggenheim’s documentary embraces the belief that excellent teachers make excellent schools, and questions the role of some organizations in maintaining the status quo.  Thus, Guggenheim offers us HOPE by his examination of  innovative research-based approaches taken by some strong-willed education reformers (e.g. Michelle Rhee, Washington, D.C and Jeffrey Canada, New York City in Harlem)  and premier charter schools that have—in reshaping the education mindset—refused to leave their students behind.