Waiting For Superman
A travesty in American Education
As quoted in the documentary, "When I found out there was no such thing as Superman, I cried for days. My mother thought it was because it was similar to how a kid finding out Santa Clause wasn't real. However, that's not the case. You see, where I grew up, it was a fairly bad neighborhood, and I was always hoping Superman would swoop in and save us. After all, who else had his raw power to save us in this world, but I was sad to know that Superman wasn't coming to the rescue." Indeed, it's a shame that Superman doesn't exist, as we could certainly use his help right about now; especially when it comes to education.
According to the documentary, our American school systems rank almost dead last in every major statistical category, with the exception of confidence. With various problems like the teachers' union, and too many government regulations, from the national and local level of government, impeding any improvement on our school system, it seems like America's future is looking more bleak. As even Bill Gates fears that if our country doesn't improve on this soon, then we maybe looking at the possibility of America losing it's economic status as a major financial super power within the coming years. Sad to say, I think Bill Gates' concerns are well justified, as "Waiting for Superman" showed me many things that quite frankly...scare me about our future. Definitely far scarier than any horror movie you'll ever watch.
Not because there's any violence or anything like that, as there isn't any in this documentary. No, just the utter shock of reality of how we allowed our school systems to fall like this is enough to scare anyone. After all, children are the future, and what kind of future do we have if our own children are falling behind academically? As many of you probably can tell by now, this documentary pretty much chronicles the American education system and it's flaws. Not only going over various factors of what potentially is impeding the decline of our American school system, it also goes over various methods on what the school boards have tried to do to fix it. Although it may not be enough to save all our children, it's at least a step in the right direction.
In the film, "Waiting for Superman", it goes over various factors on how America has been spending nearly double the amount of tax payer's money per child to go through school each year. Which is fine if the results matched the money we put into it, but that's not the case. If anything, the results of our kids' education hasn't increased at all, during the past few decades. One has to wonder why? It's not from a lack of federal and state funding, so what could be the cause of such an ordeal? During this documentary, it explores many contemporary problems that could be impeding our education system. Going over such things like tenure for our public school teachers, and how the funding from both the local and federal government causes too much red tape, to prevent anything from getting done with all the regulations in place.
Another problem the education system has is tenure for it's teachers. Although tenure was originally designed to protect teacher and researcher jobs when it came to academic freedom at major colleges and universities, it turns out at the local level of middle, elementary and high schools, tenure has become part of the problem. Believe it or not, the school spends about the same amount of money on a bad teacher, as it does a good one. What makes this even more baffling is that most of our worst teachers, in America, are often the same people who have tenure.
In one part of the video, they showed a classroom where a student brought in a hidden camera to spy on some of his classes. In fact, some of them were just flat out reading books and not even teaching the class. Needless to say, the superintendent fired every teacher in that video, but he was forced to hire them back as they all had tenure. For you see, once a teacher has tenure, it's next to impossible to fire him/her even if you have definitive proof they're a lousy teacher. Heck, what was even more disturbing that even teachers who are sex offenders don't lose they're teaching licenses. Sure, they might get transferred or fired from that school. However, they'll still retain their license to teach and just work somewhere else. Talk about scary, huh? That's only the tip of the iceberg too.
As it seems, the academic standards isn't the same for all students in high school, as all public high schools have a rating system. For you see, students who often have poor grades by the time they make it to high school, then the school board lowers their academic standards for them. If a student is already a prominent "A" or "B" student going into high school, then the standards are raised. It's seldom often that a student ever goes from a low academic standard to a high one in high schools.
Although the documentary has noted quite a few suggestions to improve our school systems, many of them are only ideas that work in theory, yet few have churned out the desired results. Such ideas like the one proposed by the Washington D.C. school board, where teachers would be given the option of giving up their tenure, in favor of making up to potentially six figure salaries based on performance. Sadly, the teachers' union rejected the proposal and didn't even vote on it, as they felt it was a threat that could potentially divide the union itself. Therefore, such practice was never implemented.
During the documentary, it mentions the newly opened Charter schools, that were not only proven to improve Academic results over the years, it was also a way to hold all students, regardless of previous grades, up to the same academic standards. Although this isn't a fairy tale, as not everyone who attended these schools did that well during it's initial years. However, the success rate of these schools were substantially higher than most public schools. Unfortunately due to limited space within these schools, only seldom few could ever get in. Hence, every year, they would hold a lottery to see which students would have the honor of attending these schools.
What I really loved about this film was not only how informative it was about our American school system, it was also a scary wake up call if you will. In fact, it downright infuriated and scared me, when I learned about how school's don't always hold up their students to the same academic standards. Heck, I just couldn't believe what teachers with tenure are often able to get away with, as they could literally get away with almost anything and still retain their teaching license. Such harsh facts only make me angry about our school system. It's no secret that our schools aren't perfect and unless radical changes are made soon, then our country could end up with a horrible future. As the students of today aren't just kids, they're the future leaders of our world. And if they're falling behind academically, then what kind of future do we have to look forward to?
Definitely a powerful documentary that will scare anyone who watches it, with it's terrifying facts about our school system. "Waiting for Superman" is a four out of four movie if you ask me, as it's literally that good. It's a shame Superman isn't real, as our school system needs that kind of raw power to save it before it's too late.
- Waiting for "Superman" | It's Possible: Together We Can Fix Education | Latest News in Education
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