Waiting for "SUPERMAN": How We Can Save America's Failing Public Schools (Participant Guide Media)
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For parents, teachers, and concerned citizens alike, Waiting for "Superman" is an essential guide to the issues, challenges, and opportunities facing America’s schools.
to speak to the darker voices in people’s heads. Those darker voices are the ones I evoke when I say in the movie, as I drive by public schools in run-down neighborhoods, that it’s easy to think that maybe “those kids simply can’t learn.” (There are a lot of shots in the movie about “driving by” failed schools. I kept being drawn to the real-life image of driving my family by the three public schools between our home and our private school. It’s a metaphor for what we all do. We know there’s a
I was amazed to hear these sentiments from everybody: administrators, principals, school board members, and even teachers. And so at a certain point in the middle of making the movie, I had to decide whether to bring out this really uncomfortable truth or to back away from it and hedge it. I was worried that 1586489274-text_Layout 1 7/30/10 10:22 AM Page 45 The Making of Waiting for “Superman” / 45 maybe I was betraying the ideals I shared with so many friends and family members, and I was
necessary to make it happen. I also have to say that the picture of unions and their role in education is not a black-and-white one. I’ve gotten to know union leaders who I think understand that the reforms we need will mean some serious adjustments on the part of their members, and that we need to rethink the rigid systems we’ve gotten locked into since the New Deal era. At the same time, these progressive union leaders can’t get too far ahead of their members. And they understandably don’t want
important change you want to see?” “Great teachers,” they said unanimously. “Bring us more great teachers.” Since then, almost every conversation I have had with students has led to this reasonable request. Students are very serious about wanting to learn from the best. During an unannounced visit to one high school, I noticed that many classrooms were nearly empty. I saw only one that was full, an English class in which the students were actively engaged in discussion. As I left the school an
to learn calculus. Their only handicap was 1586489274-text_Layout 1 7/30/10 10:23 AM Page 176 176 / Jay Mathews one he felt they shared with all teenagers: They were lazy. His cure for that was the second reason for his success—his skill at expanding the time they had to learn. Escalante tried to teach not only calculus but some of the lower-level subjects, such as algebra, so he could accustom new students to his demands. If someone was struggling in any of his classes, he would wave three