More Like Waiting for America(Movie Review: “Waiting For Superman”)

I was alerted earlier this week, or even possibly the last one, that a phenomenal documentary exposing the problem areas of the United States’ educational system was to be released in theaters. I was asked to tune into Oprah, no go there, and I found myself attempting to find more information online. As the movie’s release approached, I was bombarded with information regarding the educational systems, teacher’s salaries, and a host of other maladies. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to view the movie in its entirety, I was left to watch the trailers. (*cough*hands off the net*hack*).

The documentary, “Waiting For Superman”, as the trailer suggests, is a purview of the underlying asili of this nation, that only a certain portion of society is worthy of a thorough education. As prisons fill, and joblessness increases, so does the gap separating those that will be able to assist the country in an intellectual manner, from those that will be dependent upon them. It is no surprise to me that the antics of women ‘swirling’ around the net, promoting more division through the internet, than assistance plowed their way through twitter during this movie’s release.

Although, as stated, I haven’t seen the movie yet, a sister’s who’s twitter handle is @Chey_marly_mom was able to venture out and…well, I’ll let her discuss “Waiting for Superman” in her own words…

More like…”Waiting for America….”

If you have a pulse or are moderately abreast of current events, then chances are you have heard some of the buzz around the new documentary discussing this country’s education crisis, ironically entitled “Waiting for Superman”. I happened to catch wind of the film while reviewing this past Monday’s episode of Oprah. The documentary written and directed by Davis Guggenheim, features DC Schools Chancellor, Michelle Rhee; Geoffrey Canada, founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone, and other experts in education, as they chronicle the experiences of 5 real life families and the overwhelming problems facing America’s school system. As a mom with two children in grade school, I was glued to the TV and knew that I would make it my business to see this documentary for myself.

So after work yesterday evening, I ventured to “Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema”, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Before I go any further, I find it utterly ridiculous that a film with such presupposed importance and “must see” requisition, is playing in a handful of theaters (two in NYC to be exact) and in only two cities thus far (New York & LA)… How is a “ground breaking” film with Oprah’s seal of approval supposed to reach the masses and ignite a movement, let alone start a conversation if its release is limited? With that as a consideration, many people will likely not have an opportunity to see this documentary. However, I recommend that you view the trailer online and Google search the title to learn more about the film and the growing anticipation for it to be the stepping stone toward reforming America’s education system.

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Spoiler Alert: There simply is no way to discuss or review this documentary without disclosing the premise. In a nut shell, America’s ENTIRE school system is failing and producing a generation of adults who are/will be ill equipped to perform this country’s most highly skilled jobs or even enter today’s competitive job market due to the incredibly poor/low achievement rates in math, science & literacy. The US currently ranks 25th in math and 21st in science, worldwide. Statistics strongly dictate that high school students are dropping out at alarming rates and that graduates are being set up to compete and FAIL in a shifting global job market they have not been equipped to compete in. In the film, failing high schools are sadly referred to as “drop out factories”. One distressing example from the film is Roosevelt High School in LA; where only 1 out of 100 seniors will meet college admissions standards & 54% of students overall will not graduate! In the past 40 years, out of 60 thousand students… 40 THOUSAND have dropped out. I wish I could reference all of the disturbing stats and figures that where evidenced. Unfortunately, my memory isn’t that savvy & frankly I was disgusted, heartbroken and consumed with the defeated faces of the students… while thinking of my own children.

The documentary introduced viewers to five real life families battling in the trenches of America’s education system. I was touched by them all and brought to tears by Bianca’s story. A kindergartner from Harlem whose mother Nakia was unable to afford the tuition for her daughter to continue attendance at her private school. As a result she was not permitted to walk in her graduation ceremony. They live in a community where the “zoned” (designated according to address zip code) public schools are depressed and failing. Nakia was laid off from her job which meant that Bianca would ultimately have to attend a school in her neighborhood or get lucky and win the “lottery”. Lottery: defined as… a gambling game or method of raising money, as for some public charitable purpose, in which a large number of tickets are sold and a drawing is held for certain prizes. Lottery: defined with regards to the education system, is an “opportunity” for a child to obtain an education at a Charter School (a school within or out of the community that is not pigeon held by district rules and regulations usually producing students with at a higher achievement rate than zoned schools). All five families in the film were subjected to this lottery process with the hopes they could “win” a chance for a promising future at their districts prized school; oftentimes located miles from their homes. The entire theater was still when the lottery process and results sadly displayed just how unfair the system currently is and how America has officially made education (once again) a civil rights issue. So much for “no child left behind…”

Education reformers such as Geoffrey Canada, DC schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, and Newark mayor Cory Booker, are on a campaign to remedy what is ailing the system. Each of them has made tremendous strides in reform that have been wonderful for SOME children. But there are clearly roadblocks in the system that’s preventing a significant overhaul. Unions such as the ACLU appear to be an impediment to even addressing some of the most obvious resolutions to the problems: firing bad teachers and paying great teachers their worth. [pullthis]Tenure, guaranteed pay to teachers for life– even if they go to prison, perform poorly or are under investigation for sexual accusations– is the REAL lottery, and needs to be re-evaluated.[/pullthis]

In the film, shifting around bad teachers from one school to the another school is referred to as the “dance of the lemons”, the “turkey trot” and “passing the trash”. On screen, teachers are depicted as animated figures floating and “dancing” on a map of the Milwaukee school system. Demonstrating in a satirical way how chronically bad teachers are traded among principals in different districts with the hope they can make “lemonade” with another school’s “lemon”. In New York City, over 100 million is spent annually paying out salaries & babysitting teachers who are up for review/suspension while they report to the city’s Re-Assignment Center, also known as the “Rubber Room”. They are seen reading news papers and playing cards while they wait for their hearing. The film goes on to divulge that in Illinois, “one in 57 doctors lose their medical licenses; one in 97 attorneys lose their law licenses; but for teachers, only one in 2,500 have ever lost their credentials.” Disgraceful!

The system is further entangled in a web of political ascendancy. Teachers unions such as the NEA and AFT are the largest political interest group and 90% of their donations are campaign contributions to the Democratic Party. Smh!!

So now what?

The truth has reared its ugly head and America is now going to reconcile these issues by any means necessary and expeditiously, right? *Not holding my breath* The problems are astounding. Sitting in the theater watching this documentary left me with the feeling of every word synonymous to defeat. As I previously mentioned, I have two children in grade school. My eldest daughter goes to a public Magnet school (public school with specialized courses or curricula) where she is an Honor Student and an Art major. My babygirl is in Pre-Kindergarten at a private school that my husband and I pay tuition for her to attend. I have a tremendous amount of concern for their futures and I have as much concern for their peers’ futures. EVERY child in this country is deserving of a competent & competitive education. The mediocrity of America’s education system is a criminal offense! How do the powers that be knowingly allow for the future of our children to be destined for inadequacy? The breakdown in the system appears to have begun decades ago although there seems to be some debate on the cause or source of its inception. And the problem is not immune to any one area in the country. In the film, Emily an 8th grader from a wealthier family living in an affluent LA neighborhood was desperate to attend the district’s Charter school because her college campus-like, state of the art zoned school, “track” student achievement levels; another issue plaguing America’s school system. Standardized tests as a measure of intelligence haven’t proven to be a successful metric of achievement. And I didn’t find it unusual that the question arose that whether the breakdown in (urban) neighborhoods are the CAUSE or RESULT of the failing education system. How many of us have been made privy to the implication that children in underdeveloped neighborhoods simply can’t learn or are not teachable? *sigh*

After viewing this film, one can’t help but wonder if the damage to the entire system is irreparable…? And none of what I have recounted diminishes the required responsibility of learning & achievement reinforcement in the home by any means. Parents have simply got to do better. On Friday’s Oprah Show, the topic was revisited with reactions from teachers & administrators such as Geoffrey Canada, and politicians with varied opinions on what was revealed in the documentary and what are we going to do as a result. A pledge was made by Newark mayor Cory Booker, the Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie and Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg to further revitalize and repair the Newark school district under the leadership of Mr. Booker. Zuckerberg donated 100 Million dollars to that effort. Newark is on its way to potentially being a model for education reform in this country, while the rest of the country is waiting for…?

32 thoughts on “More Like Waiting for America(Movie Review: “Waiting For Superman”)

  1. Education is supposed to be a right, not a privilege. How disgusting that the United States may never understand that. It’s even sadder that MANY countries are experiencing the same thing. (It’s not just the U.S.) So basically, people worldwide are being taken for a ride.

    1. What’s up, P. Yeah, I think that people world wide will need to develop better systems of education. Too often the educational practices of countries are simply indoctrinations, and not really building minds for the work of social and scientific betterment.

  2. Education is supposed to be a right, not a privilege. How disgusting that the United States may never understand that. It’s even sadder that MANY countries are experiencing the same thing. (It’s not just the U.S.) So basically, people worldwide are being taken for a ride.

    1. What’s up, P. Yeah, I think that people world wide will need to develop better systems of education. Too often the educational practices of countries are simply indoctrinations, and not really building minds for the work of social and scientific betterment.

  3. Ph2072, Agreed! Education in this country and every country should be a right and many countries are indeed experiencing the same. The problem in addition to what was discussed in the documentary is that America is seemingly overconfident about its position in the world & has a superiority complex WITH this 8000 lb education elephant in the room… Thank you for taking time to read and comment!

  4. Ph2072, Agreed! Education in this country and every country should be a right and many countries are indeed experiencing the same. The problem in addition to what was discussed in the documentary is that America is seemingly overconfident about its position in the world & has a superiority complex WITH this 8000 lb education elephant in the room… Thank you for taking time to read and comment!

  5. Adam Smith, division of labor, The Wealth of Nations. That’s what comes to mind when public education is discussed. In a capitalist society, there is absolutely no incentive to educate everybody equally. There has to be janitors and clerks, but that’s not too terrible. What’s worse is that certain professions require the ignorance of others to survive. A specialized labor force needs an unequal pedagogical system. And now, with the economy drifting further into a system of haves and have nots, this is only going to get worse.

    This is the pits. It’s amazing that I haven’t put a gun to my head yet. OK, I’m not there. But you understand the sentiment…parents have to step up and fill in the gap as best they can. And raise some children with serious initiative and drive.

    The fact that we are dropping the ball on primary education demonstrates that we are mortgaging our future. Our post-secondary institutions are the wonder of the world, but many of us can’t even get there. Or sustain the drive to finish.

    1. Yeah, Z…I believe the older generation phrased it,”America eats their young”. The danger of depending on a system is falling prey to the actual and practiced true ideology of that system. Our children, the children, hell, ourselves, aren’t being considered in this situation, mainly because the US gets more from a mule than a major. If it don’t make dollars…it damn sure better not be making sense….

  6. Adam Smith, division of labor, The Wealth of Nations. That’s what comes to mind when public education is discussed. In a capitalist society, there is absolutely no incentive to educate everybody equally. There has to be janitors and clerks, but that’s not too terrible. What’s worse is that certain professions require the ignorance of others to survive. A specialized labor force needs an unequal pedagogical system. And now, with the economy drifting further into a system of haves and have nots, this is only going to get worse.

    This is the pits. It’s amazing that I haven’t put a gun to my head yet. OK, I’m not there. But you understand the sentiment…parents have to step up and fill in the gap as best they can. And raise some children with serious initiative and drive.

    The fact that we are dropping the ball on primary education demonstrates that we are mortgaging our future. Our post-secondary institutions are the wonder of the world, but many of us can’t even get there. Or sustain the drive to finish.

    1. Yeah, Z…I believe the older generation phrased it,”America eats their young”. The danger of depending on a system is falling prey to the actual and practiced true ideology of that system. Our children, the children, hell, ourselves, aren’t being considered in this situation, mainly because the US gets more from a mule than a major. If it don’t make dollars…it damn sure better not be making sense….

  7. “The problem in addition to what was discussed in the documentary is that America is seemingly overconfident about its position in the world & has a superiority complex…”

    >> YEP. Yet every year for goodness knows how long, the United States has consistently ranked on the low end of the scale when any worldwide education statistics come out. BUT, we can’t just blame the education system. Parents really need to step up their game too.

    Here’s a link from November 2008: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2008/11/19/US-slipping-in-education-rankings/UPI-90221227104776/

    zqclay – sad but true.

  8. “The problem in addition to what was discussed in the documentary is that America is seemingly overconfident about its position in the world & has a superiority complex…”

    >> YEP. Yet every year for goodness knows how long, the United States has consistently ranked on the low end of the scale when any worldwide education statistics come out. BUT, we can’t just blame the education system. Parents really need to step up their game too.

    Here’s a link from November 2008: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2008/11/19/US-slipping-in-education-rankings/UPI-90221227104776/

    zqclay – sad but true.

  9. Zqclay,
    Thank you for bringing these points to the discussion. The film momentarily mentioned class (not specific to race but we know the implications are there) and societal roles/workforce requirements very briefly. There was intent in turning out a business elite, blue collar working class, and underclass 40-50 years ago and that need hasn’t changed. As you stated, there has to be some consideration for position and how the education system was designed with capitalistic intentions for reasons non other than to put/keep folks in their lanes…

    Agreed. Parents HAVE to fill in the gap… Accountability cannot and should not be on teachers and administrators in totality. Coursework must be supplemented in the home as well as the growth & development of study ethic. And we haven’t even delved into curriculum content and deliberate miss-education…
    Thank you again for reading and commenting!

  10. Zqclay,
    Thank you for bringing these points to the discussion. The film momentarily mentioned class (not specific to race but we know the implications are there) and societal roles/workforce requirements very briefly. There was intent in turning out a business elite, blue collar working class, and underclass 40-50 years ago and that need hasn’t changed. As you stated, there has to be some consideration for position and how the education system was designed with capitalistic intentions for reasons non other than to put/keep folks in their lanes…

    Agreed. Parents HAVE to fill in the gap… Accountability cannot and should not be on teachers and administrators in totality. Coursework must be supplemented in the home as well as the growth & development of study ethic. And we haven’t even delved into curriculum content and deliberate miss-education…
    Thank you again for reading and commenting!

  11. Now what? As a parent, I do work overtime to fill in the gaps & don’t expect the education system to do all the work. However, will that be enough? The schools cut out every “program” they can, citing there’s not enough funding, or the lack of teacher/parent involement. If you’re child is fortunate to get into a public school that has an administration that genuinely cares about it’s students; you’re ahead of the game. But where are those schools?! Do I have to say I “live” at a certain address to ensure my children get a quality education? If we can’t get a good education at the elementary level, how are our children “expected” to make it college? My children know that college isn’t an option, however if the entire system doesn’t change, what good will it do? How many more unemployed MBA, business school, ivy league graduates can society take care of?

    1. Interesting concerns. I personally think that the blame the parent routine has gotten old. I understand that parents ought to be the prime source of a child’s direction, but what exactly is the purpose of spending tax dollars when the institutions are failing to do THEIR part? Parents might as be given vouchers to teach their children at home and vouchers for day care, since the local and state level governments, and federal agencies have failed to spend the money more wisely.

  12. Now what? As a parent, I do work overtime to fill in the gaps & don’t expect the education system to do all the work. However, will that be enough? The schools cut out every “program” they can, citing there’s not enough funding, or the lack of teacher/parent involement. If you’re child is fortunate to get into a public school that has an administration that genuinely cares about it’s students; you’re ahead of the game. But where are those schools?! Do I have to say I “live” at a certain address to ensure my children get a quality education? If we can’t get a good education at the elementary level, how are our children “expected” to make it college? My children know that college isn’t an option, however if the entire system doesn’t change, what good will it do? How many more unemployed MBA, business school, ivy league graduates can society take care of?

    1. Interesting concerns. I personally think that the blame the parent routine has gotten old. I understand that parents ought to be the prime source of a child’s direction, but what exactly is the purpose of spending tax dollars when the institutions are failing to do THEIR part? Parents might as be given vouchers to teach their children at home and vouchers for day care, since the local and state level governments, and federal agencies have failed to spend the money more wisely.

  13. Exactly! Society overall has toted a college education as a defining measure of “success”. Yet education credentials are decreasing in value in the current workforce… You have people with degrees and certifications competing for the same employment opportunities as those that don’t have them and for positions that often times don’t require advanced education… just to make ends meet and survive in this troubled economy. Not to mention the debt incurred seeking accreditation for an unpromising future… And despite the bleak forecast, I’m with you…my children can aspire to be whatever their hearts desire…but they WILL go to college and explore entrepreneurial endeavors!!
    Thank you for taking time out for the read and comment, Sis!

  14. Exactly! Society overall has toted a college education as a defining measure of “success”. Yet education credentials are decreasing in value in the current workforce… You have people with degrees and certifications competing for the same employment opportunities as those that don’t have them and for positions that often times don’t require advanced education… just to make ends meet and survive in this troubled economy. Not to mention the debt incurred seeking accreditation for an unpromising future… And despite the bleak forecast, I’m with you…my children can aspire to be whatever their hearts desire…but they WILL go to college and explore entrepreneurial endeavors!!
    Thank you for taking time out for the read and comment, Sis!

  15. Let me begin by saying, I was touched by Chey_marly_mom’s piece. It is clear that you have serious concern about the education and plight of children, not just your own. I commend you for taking the time to write and share your thoughts on education, the school system, and the movie.

    I would like to introduce a perspective from a teacher. I have taught kindergarten, 3rd, 4th and hopefully 6th grade (cross your fingers with me!!!). I do not think people understand the amazing amount of pressure imposed onto teachers. In most situations, the teacher wants to teach the child. But often times, we are restricted in what we can do. Certain parents treat school like a daycare or come to the school complaining about the homework, curriculum, or teacher, without solutions. For example, all PTA meetings I have attended have been nearly empty. This should be the place when PARENTS speak up! At least send an email so your points can be mentioned, if you can’t attend the meeting.

    Also as a teacher, I am not supposed to teach etiquette, respect, and civility…but in order to maintain a classroom and not lose valuable time, that is what I MUST do. Many parents neglect to factor life skills into the equation of necessary learning. Several children don’t make it to college or finish high school because they don’t know how to behave!

    The compensation teachers receive for all the loans, degrees, certifications, lesson plans, and staff development days that are required of them is no reward. Most teachers I know that have been teaching for over 5 years are 2 bills from being destitute. If the government, parents, and whoever else can’t see the worth of a teacher (but constantly critique us) why would a teacher be motivated to do more than what is required?

    Lastly, firing a teacher is just an easy way out. The problem is still not solved. Children are still taking unnecessary assessments, regurgitating useless facts, and NOT LEARNING. I wish we didn’t live in a country where necessary reform was such a radical thought.

    Thanks again for sharing!

    Love always,

    Lambie

  16. Let me begin by saying, I was touched by Chey_marly_mom’s piece. It is clear that you have serious concern about the education and plight of children, not just your own. I commend you for taking the time to write and share your thoughts on education, the school system, and the movie.

    I would like to introduce a perspective from a teacher. I have taught kindergarten, 3rd, 4th and hopefully 6th grade (cross your fingers with me!!!). I do not think people understand the amazing amount of pressure imposed onto teachers. In most situations, the teacher wants to teach the child. But often times, we are restricted in what we can do. Certain parents treat school like a daycare or come to the school complaining about the homework, curriculum, or teacher, without solutions. For example, all PTA meetings I have attended have been nearly empty. This should be the place when PARENTS speak up! At least send an email so your points can be mentioned, if you can’t attend the meeting.

    Also as a teacher, I am not supposed to teach etiquette, respect, and civility…but in order to maintain a classroom and not lose valuable time, that is what I MUST do. Many parents neglect to factor life skills into the equation of necessary learning. Several children don’t make it to college or finish high school because they don’t know how to behave!

    The compensation teachers receive for all the loans, degrees, certifications, lesson plans, and staff development days that are required of them is no reward. Most teachers I know that have been teaching for over 5 years are 2 bills from being destitute. If the government, parents, and whoever else can’t see the worth of a teacher (but constantly critique us) why would a teacher be motivated to do more than what is required?

    Lastly, firing a teacher is just an easy way out. The problem is still not solved. Children are still taking unnecessary assessments, regurgitating useless facts, and NOT LEARNING. I wish we didn’t live in a country where necessary reform was such a radical thought.

    Thanks again for sharing!

    Love always,

    Lambie

  17. Thank you so much for taking time out to leave a comment! This discussion is indeed missing consideration of some of the factors you’ve mentioned from a teacher’s perspective. Clearly there is a disconnect between teachers, administrators and policy makers. It seems teachers are not getting the advocacy and support they need from the powers that be with regard to the issues that make actually TEACHING difficult. However, I agree with Owl to a degree, parents are being scapegoated unfairly in this debate on some level. We know that the entire system is performing poorly, not just schools in urban communities. Parents like me and PABrownie are active participants in our children’s schools PTA and have consistent open communication with their teachers. I want to believe there are more parents like us than not in the grand scheme…. I really believe there has to be more consideration for inadequate curriculum and ineffective teaching methods. How else do we have 1 in 5 charter schools or 80% NOT closing the achievement gap?
    Again, I don’t want to diminish those societal effects that have made their way into the classrooms as well. We don’t need a statistician to point out that depressed neighborhoods present the greatest challenge. However, there is something to be said about knowing what you’re getting into before you sign up…ain’t no money in the teaching profession… and the credentials required are no match monetarily.
    Ultimately, “I wish we didn’t live in a country where necessary reform was such a radical thought.” also…but I’m so grateful for those of you on the frontlines making an impact and not giving up the fight! Crossing my fingers and toes for you, Lamb Chop!! Love you, Sis.

  18. Thank you so much for taking time out to leave a comment! This discussion is indeed missing consideration of some of the factors you’ve mentioned from a teacher’s perspective. Clearly there is a disconnect between teachers, administrators and policy makers. It seems teachers are not getting the advocacy and support they need from the powers that be with regard to the issues that make actually TEACHING difficult. However, I agree with Owl to a degree, parents are being scapegoated unfairly in this debate on some level. We know that the entire system is performing poorly, not just schools in urban communities. Parents like me and PABrownie are active participants in our children’s schools PTA and have consistent open communication with their teachers. I want to believe there are more parents like us than not in the grand scheme…. I really believe there has to be more consideration for inadequate curriculum and ineffective teaching methods. How else do we have 1 in 5 charter schools or 80% NOT closing the achievement gap?
    Again, I don’t want to diminish those societal effects that have made their way into the classrooms as well. We don’t need a statistician to point out that depressed neighborhoods present the greatest challenge. However, there is something to be said about knowing what you’re getting into before you sign up…ain’t no money in the teaching profession… and the credentials required are no match monetarily.
    Ultimately, “I wish we didn’t live in a country where necessary reform was such a radical thought.” also…but I’m so grateful for those of you on the frontlines making an impact and not giving up the fight! Crossing my fingers and toes for you, Lamb Chop!! Love you, Sis.

  19. I am also an educator and although “blaming the parents” may be getting old, we must stop blaming education for ALL of the ills of children. The expectations of teachers have far surpassed those when my parents were students and even when I was one as well. I’m a first grade teacher and I spend my day teaching children social skills, how to speak proper English (the number is four not foe), and catching them up when their parents decide that kindergarten isn’t important.
    The vast majority of our teachers at my school provide high quality, differentiated instruction meaning all of us teach our kids at their level. The only problem is their level is far below grade level. We deal with transfer students all year long. Last year, I ended the year with only 11 out of the 24 kids I began with. The other 13 came and went throughout the year. Research shows that every time a child transfers schools, they lose months and months of education. I had one kid show up two weeks before school ended. A little boy in my classroom missed 80 days of school. Yes EIGHTY! Half the school year, yet I’m still responsible for ensuring he receives a quality education while his mother was never held accountable for child neglect, neglecting her son’s education.

    Education is probably the only career where we are not given all the tools we need to do our job well. If I want to teach about plants, I spend my own unreimbursed money on seeds and soil. I purchase supplies when parents can’t afford or refuse to send them. I’m never reimbursed. If I want my class to look inviting with posters, charts, stickers, books, pencils, crayons, math materials, I have to purchase them. My friend saw two law students her firm was recruiting in a club and she “expensed” our entire tab. If I want to further my education to become a better teacher, my tuition isn’t reimbursed or matched. Our student loans aren’t forgiveable. As Nigerian Lamb stated, many educators are a paycheck away from being poor ourselves.

    I could go on and on about the emotional and mental issues facing students in impoverished neighborhoods, the effect of fatherlessness, drug abuse, and violence but I guess it’s a lot easier to blame schools. There are bad teachers, just like there are bad parents. Not only are schools expected to educate children, we’re expected to be their social workers, psychologists, etiquette coaches, parole officers, doctors, and parents too. In loco parentis, but not really.

    1. I want to touch on what you have stated, as well as what Lambchop is addressing.

      There seems to be a looming danger in this discussion. There seems to be a growing number of educators that sense that they are being attacked. In an effort to defend themselves, the parents are being attacked for not socializing their children to the degree that the teachers feel is appropriate. Thusly, the two entities that should be most in step with one another, are seemingly being pitted against one another. Of course, that is me assuming that all parties involved have the development of educated children as the primary reason for having this discussion.

  20. I am also an educator and although “blaming the parents” may be getting old, we must stop blaming education for ALL of the ills of children. The expectations of teachers have far surpassed those when my parents were students and even when I was one as well. I’m a first grade teacher and I spend my day teaching children social skills, how to speak proper English (the number is four not foe), and catching them up when their parents decide that kindergarten isn’t important.
    The vast majority of our teachers at my school provide high quality, differentiated instruction meaning all of us teach our kids at their level. The only problem is their level is far below grade level. We deal with transfer students all year long. Last year, I ended the year with only 11 out of the 24 kids I began with. The other 13 came and went throughout the year. Research shows that every time a child transfers schools, they lose months and months of education. I had one kid show up two weeks before school ended. A little boy in my classroom missed 80 days of school. Yes EIGHTY! Half the school year, yet I’m still responsible for ensuring he receives a quality education while his mother was never held accountable for child neglect, neglecting her son’s education.

    Education is probably the only career where we are not given all the tools we need to do our job well. If I want to teach about plants, I spend my own unreimbursed money on seeds and soil. I purchase supplies when parents can’t afford or refuse to send them. I’m never reimbursed. If I want my class to look inviting with posters, charts, stickers, books, pencils, crayons, math materials, I have to purchase them. My friend saw two law students her firm was recruiting in a club and she “expensed” our entire tab. If I want to further my education to become a better teacher, my tuition isn’t reimbursed or matched. Our student loans aren’t forgiveable. As Nigerian Lamb stated, many educators are a paycheck away from being poor ourselves.

    I could go on and on about the emotional and mental issues facing students in impoverished neighborhoods, the effect of fatherlessness, drug abuse, and violence but I guess it’s a lot easier to blame schools. There are bad teachers, just like there are bad parents. Not only are schools expected to educate children, we’re expected to be their social workers, psychologists, etiquette coaches, parole officers, doctors, and parents too. In loco parentis, but not really.

    1. I want to touch on what you have stated, as well as what Lambchop is addressing.

      There seems to be a looming danger in this discussion. There seems to be a growing number of educators that sense that they are being attacked. In an effort to defend themselves, the parents are being attacked for not socializing their children to the degree that the teachers feel is appropriate. Thusly, the two entities that should be most in step with one another, are seemingly being pitted against one another. Of course, that is me assuming that all parties involved have the development of educated children as the primary reason for having this discussion.

  21. Ms. F,
    As an educator your viewpoint is especially appreciated! Both you and Nigerian Lamb have touched on the significance of social issues affecting your ability to educate… parents not pulling their weight, and how these issues often interfere with the overall process. These factors and many more in this debate have left me with some questions:

    Is there real consideration for societal effects outside of the classroom from an administrative standpoint, and should there be? How do teachers superiors/advocates… (Administrators, principles, and teachers union) handle the unique circumstances presented mostly, but not exclusively to depressed communities?

    How does homeschooling, parochial, and private schools factor into this debate comparatively to public schools?

    What method is being used to determine who or what makes a good or bad teacher? Is there an ‘across the board’ resolve for this and can this realistically be assessed?

    Is “passion” a consideration? Can “passion” for the job be fairly or unfairly attributed to the results of teachers who make strides in their classrooms, particularly in the face of immeasurable challenges, and insubstantial salary?

    What was the real purpose of this documentary and will it divide or unite the immediate players (parents/teachers/administrators)? Will it further the conversation and lead to a movement, or further convolute the issues and perpetuate helplessness?

    Have the media images stemming from this film (Oprah, MSNBC town hall, etc) done more harm than good? (See above question again) with regard to the portrayal of teachers, administrators, unions, tenure, charter schools, lotteries, depressed communities, etc…

    Is there validity in the claim that tenure for life; whether teachers perform well or not, is an impediment to reform? Are charter schools/lotteries a band-aid or step in the right direction?

    Is a film about America’s rank in the world education spectrum the airing of dirty laundry (with no immediate resolutions) a disingenuous propagated scare tactic? Or a sincere call to action?

    (the questions can go on and on…)

    … I guess I say all that to ask one primary question again…Knowing what we now do…“Now what?”
    Resolutions anyone?

    Thank you ALL again, for engaging!

  22. Ms. F,
    As an educator your viewpoint is especially appreciated! Both you and Nigerian Lamb have touched on the significance of social issues affecting your ability to educate… parents not pulling their weight, and how these issues often interfere with the overall process. These factors and many more in this debate have left me with some questions:

    Is there real consideration for societal effects outside of the classroom from an administrative standpoint, and should there be? How do teachers superiors/advocates… (Administrators, principles, and teachers union) handle the unique circumstances presented mostly, but not exclusively to depressed communities?

    How does homeschooling, parochial, and private schools factor into this debate comparatively to public schools?

    What method is being used to determine who or what makes a good or bad teacher? Is there an ‘across the board’ resolve for this and can this realistically be assessed?

    Is “passion” a consideration? Can “passion” for the job be fairly or unfairly attributed to the results of teachers who make strides in their classrooms, particularly in the face of immeasurable challenges, and insubstantial salary?

    What was the real purpose of this documentary and will it divide or unite the immediate players (parents/teachers/administrators)? Will it further the conversation and lead to a movement, or further convolute the issues and perpetuate helplessness?

    Have the media images stemming from this film (Oprah, MSNBC town hall, etc) done more harm than good? (See above question again) with regard to the portrayal of teachers, administrators, unions, tenure, charter schools, lotteries, depressed communities, etc…

    Is there validity in the claim that tenure for life; whether teachers perform well or not, is an impediment to reform? Are charter schools/lotteries a band-aid or step in the right direction?

    Is a film about America’s rank in the world education spectrum the airing of dirty laundry (with no immediate resolutions) a disingenuous propagated scare tactic? Or a sincere call to action?

    (the questions can go on and on…)

    … I guess I say all that to ask one primary question again…Knowing what we now do…“Now what?”
    Resolutions anyone?

    Thank you ALL again, for engaging!

  23. Oh my goodness! a tremendous article dude. Thank you Nevertheless I’m experiencing difficulty with ur rss . Don’t know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anybody getting similar rss drawback? Anybody who knows kindly respond. Thnkx

  24. Oh my goodness! a tremendous article dude. Thank you Nevertheless I’m experiencing difficulty with ur rss . Don’t know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anybody getting similar rss drawback? Anybody who knows kindly respond. Thnkx

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