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We’re NOT “Waiting for Superman” |

Proving Grounds: School “Rheeform” in Washington, D.C. >>

Stan Karp
for the editors of Rethinking Schools

Dear Friends,

On Sept. 24, a new film, “Waiting for Superman,” will draw media attention to public education across the country. Unfortunately, most of it will be negative. So we’ve started a project to talk back to the film and the message it promotes. We hope you will join us on the pages of NOTwaitingforsuperman.org.

The message of the film is that public schools are failing because of bad teachers and their unions. The film’s “solution,” to the minimal extent it suggests one, is to replace them with “great” charter schools and teachers who have less power over their schools and classrooms.

This message is not just wrong. In the current political climate, it’s toxic.

The film was made by the Academy-Award winning director of “An Inconvenient Truth,” a documentary that helped awaken millions to the dangers of global warming. But this film misses the mark by light years. Instead of helping people understand the many problems schools face and what it will take to address them, it presents misleading information and simplistic “solutions” that will make it harder for those of us working to improve public education to succeed. We know first hand how urgently change is needed. But by siding with a corporate reform agenda of teacher bashing, union busting, test-based “accountability” and highly selective, privatized charters, the film pours gasoline on the public education bonfire started by No Child Left Behind and Race To the Top.

Rethinking Schools has never hesitated to criticize public schools. We do it in every issue. We’ve been working for over 25 years to bring social justice and racial equality to our classrooms, our schools, our districts—and our unions. We know many of you have been doing the same. But this film does not contain a single positive image of a non-charter public school or a teacher. Despite a lot of empty rhetoric about the importance of “great teachers,” the disrespect the film displays to real teachers working on the ground in public schools today is stunning. Not one has a voice in the film. There are no public school parents working together to improve the schools their children attend. There are no engaged communities. There is no serious discussion of funding, poverty, race, testing or the long and sorry history of top-down bureaucratic reform failure.

It’s as if someone made a film about global warming and did not mention cars, oil companies, or carbon dioxide.

The film has an undeniably powerful emotional impact, and the stories of the children and families it highlights are compelling to all of us. But the film uses these stories to promote an agenda that will hurt public schools and the communities that depend on them. It’s time to speak up for ourselves, our students, and our schools.

Please join us on the pages of NOTwaitingforsuperman.org or email us at notwaiting@rethinkingschools.org and let’s get to work.


Abigail Sawyer — 30 September 2010, 10:53www.speakingintonguesfilm.info/our-blog

Thanks for providing an alternative voice. I haven’t seen the film, but the trailer made me suspicious of its agenda, and I appreciate your thoughtful criticism here. My kids are in a great public school where they are becoming bilingual and teachers, parents, the principal, and community volunteers work hard to see that kids are getting a good education. I would prefer that schools got more of what they needed on a policy and budget level so that we didn’t all have to work so hard, but the bottom line is that we care about these kids, and they only get to grow up once.

Jerod Thomson — 01 October 2010, 12:55texasisd.com

I have not seen the film, but on discovering who directed it, I knew it would have absolutely nothing good to say about public schools and the people who work in them as teachers, counselors, and administrators. I and my wife graduated from public schools (not from the same school or district)and are both successful in our fields of endeavor. My three children graduated from three different public schools and all three have done well for themselves. My two granddaughters attend different schools, are both doing very well, and will probably both go to college and make a good life for themselves. The main reason we all have done well, and will do well, even though we were/are public school educated is that there has been parental involvement throughout our educational years and will be for the granddaughters, even though their parents are divorced and one has been in and out of jail and drug rehab. There is absolutely nothing wrong with our public schools that cannot be fixed relatively easily, and inexpensively, if the student’s family is involved with his/her education and the community that pays the taxes maintains more than just a passing interest in ITS schools.

Proud to be an educator in CA. — 02 October 2010, 11:50

I have not seen the film yet but am a public school teacher and proud to say my husband and I have been for 20 plus years. We work with high quality people who are constantly learning and will to help. What so many people are missing is over our careers we have seen parent involvement, language issues and the value of an education change greatly. I am proud to say my children are being and have been public school educated and are doing great. As so many occupations and jobs around the country there will be those who are better at there job than others. But to lump us together and say our unions are the result of the decline in education is ridiculous. How about the issue of the shrinking budget that is going to education? Public schools can be fixed and it isn’t just a teachers job to do it!

CPS Teacher — 02 October 2010, 21:03

I haven’t seen the film, but as a public school teacher who graduated from a public high school, it is so disappointing to hear more celebrities talk about “getting qualified & dedicated teachers.” Anyone who spends a day in ANY urban school, will usually leave saying to the teachers, “I don’t KNOW how you do it!” Teaching is not easy. Good teachers make it LOOK easy. But even “bad” teachers (the least effective ones) are dedicated. They are probably even MORE dedicated than the ones who have higher scoring students. There are lots of easier ways to make money. One of the biggest problems in education is that teachers aren’t respected as professionals anymore. Every politician & beaurocrat thinks they know more than the teachers who are in the classrooms with the students. If we spent more money on more teachers, smaller class sizes, equal resources, instead of high stakes testing & teacher & union bashing, our students would succeed.

Pat LaCocque — 03 October 2010, 08:19

Thanks to Rethinking Schools once again for supporting health in our public schools. I’m reading Diane Ravitch’s book “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education.” I highly recommend it - sheds light on what is happening today with corporate take-overs of our schools!

Kim Melnychenko — 03 October 2010, 11:53

Thank you for your voice in education! I too am a public school teacher and am very concerned about the lean toward charter schools as the “solution” to providing equitable education. I can’t help but think of an article in “Rethinking School” about the Finnish school system and the drastic changes that took place to build a trusting relationship with teacher by providing professional development and equitable resources for ALL students. It breaks by heart to think of eventually leaving significant groups of children out of the educational system because of choice and access. Public education by nature should not be one it which competition wins the day and creates divisions between all of its invested partners. I plan on seeing the movie to understand its perspective and to be able to communicate my ideas clearly. Thank you to all of you who do the same!

Philadelphia Teacher — 03 October 2010, 15:00

In my opinion, the movie does not say charter schools are the solution. SPOILER ALERT: Most of the children depicted do not get out of their current situations. Three main things it says, that I, as an (urban) educator (in a Title I school), agree with are: 1) ADULTS, not children, are accountable for the current state of our education system. Adults = politicians, parents, teachers, community members and administrators, no one part more “to blame” than others. And that, as ADULTS, we should work very hard to solve the myriad problems that contribute to our failing education system. 2) ALL children, not just those who are lucky enough to live in affluent districts OR win a lottery, should have the opportunity to attain an excellent education. 3) The fact that teacher quality does not always correlate to teacher pay — that I, for example, get paid less than someone in the rubber room — is something that deserves a serious reexamination. In what other (respected) PROFESSION does this happen? Teaching would attract and retain innovative and multi-faceted educators and LEADERS (not just people who have passed a test to become an administrator) if many of the 1950′s methodologies were given a serious reexamination. There are excellent teachers and administrators to be found in the education system — don’t get me wrong — but unfortunately, their work is often more an exception than the rule.

Philadelphia Parent — 10 October 2010, 21:27

It appears that pay correlating with “quality” is the big issue in most of our scoity’s problems. Competition leads to competitors being at the top. Top dollar in this country is paid to the people who have honed their skills at beating out other people, not by people who are the best at their jobs. And then we have a banking system that is failing, a health care system that is failing, an education system that is failing and the list goes on and on. I attended a Philadelphia School District presentation on how to understand the testing language that determines the fates of our children. It was a carefully constructed power point presentation that helped us understand nothing, but showed me where my tax dollars are going. On a fancy suit, expensive high heeled shoes and a nice computer. Also on some rubbishy research that does nothing to help our children learn. I could only hope to get some coffee and a danish out of the bargain.

Mike Brooks — 11 October 2010, 10:23

I think this site’s response misses the mark about the film. I encourage everyone to watch the film for themselves, read up on alternative views such as on this site, and make your own decision. I watched the film last night and did not find it critical of teachers at all, nor of public education as a concept. It is critical of bad teachers, bureaucracy, and leadership of teachers unions. Let’s keep our eye on the prize - well-educated kids ready for a good life - and keep our dialogue calm and reasonable. No need to leap to conclusions before seeing the film. We can work together to make education better.

Amanda in Massachusetts — 12 October 2010, 15:49

I am a reading teacher in a public school. Before that I was a teacher in a Catholic School, and before that in a charter school. I have seen it all, and in every situation, there were successes and failures. Parents of ALL walks of life need to be involved and demand excellent education for their children. Parents also need to be held accountable for their children and their children’s actions. It is a community effort, with community involvement, that will create excellent schools. You cannot point a finger at one party and create blame. You cannot lump all students into one category by test scores alone. You cannot punish schools and their teachers just by testing results. It’s time for everyone to own this problem and create some solutions.

Yirusha — 16 October 2010, 15:00

I have been a public, charter, and private school teacher for 22 years. I am also a single mother who raised two young adults that attended public schools. The key is I RAISED two young adults and I was heavily involved in thier education. I currently teach in an urban school in the nations capitiol in a high school. The students refuse to bring a pencil and paper to class, while talking and texting on a cell phone. I go to work at 7, and come home at 6 , to be prepared, not to teach but deal with disapline problems that start at home, and have followed them from elementary school.Right now we have no toner for the copier, and I have to buy my own bulb for the overhead projecter.At what point does it stop?I didnt give birth to these students who have no respect for me, themselves, or any adult that tries to give them direction.I am going to retire teaching Pre-School .

Caryn Bracy — 17 October 2010, 09:36

I’ve seen the movie, and while it does support Charter schools that work (not all), it’s main villain is not the teacher’s union, it is the question of “tenure” - not at the collegiate level (where it is much harder to obtain and there is a testing process) but at the lower levels where the standards are more loosely defined….

Kat Schwarz — 17 October 2010, 17:42

I went to public schools all my life, including college. When my youngest son needed special ed help due to autism, he was placed in an outstanding public school program. He graduated and was declared ‘normal’ and, after countless attempts to talk to and work with the elementary school where he’d be going, we pulled him out after six days of kindergarten. There was nothing even close to care and concern for his needs and limitations.

I believe that there are thousands and thousands of excellent teachers who are bullied by administrators who have no interest in education and no interest in children. They are political animals out to advance themselves and establish a fiefdom. They attract teachers with the same set of values. The students learn to be good little robots or their lives are miserable.

Parents need to parent. Teachers need to teach. Administrators need to make sure the building is safe, the lights are on and the necessary equipment and materials are available. Amazing how that could help improve life all the way around.

Jane Administrator — 19 October 2010, 14:08

If that is all administrators are expected to do sign me up! The correlation between administrator and student success is second ONLY to the teacher in the classroom….I don’t disagree with the intent here, but to characterize administrators as handling safety, lights and equipment is also short-sighted. Offense may not have been meant but offense taken!

Mary Kinney — 22 October 2010, 20:23Not waiting for superman

The same people who have the most to complain about public education are the same people who complain about the taxes they might have to pay if they want something to be done about it.

They should be complaining because we spend too much money on bombs and a military complex that is paying a lot of private contractors too run it. That’s where the taxes go. not for our children to be smart keepers of the world. That’s where the hope is for our nation (The children). Not someones fantasy about how a few can become wealthy while others just become unknowing.

Mary MacKay — 24 October 2010, 18:18

The new Starbucks Digital Network is promoting the pseudo-documentary Waiting for Superman. This film trashes teachers & public schooling. As a career educator & frappuccino lover, I have a problem with that. So, I wrote Starbucks & reported that I would be boycotting, adding that I suspect a lot of public school teachers drink coffee. Every Starbucks has comment forms with prepaid postage…‌

a real person — 02 November 2010, 10:10

i dont think the adults should be making decisions all the time. ask a kid, thats all you need to do and dont put them in front of a camera ask them what they really think about school.

Swan — 06 November 2010, 00:40

I feel that this movie hits on some very important issues. There are a lot of teachers who stop caring about the students after they are guaranteed their jobs. People who have been in the education system for years are obviously going to look past this and pretend that everything is okay.. but look at the facts. Over half of the country is not passing the AYP mark. The focus needs to be on the STUDENTS. This is why people went in to education in the first place.. to help students. As a future educator I personally am proud that there are people like Michelle Rhee who are willing to go the distance to help make things better for the STUDENTS.

SK — 07 November 2010, 11:24

@swan No one here is pretending that “everything is OK,” many of us have been working for reform and social justice in public education long before “Superman” showed up. But the film presents an inaccurate and misleading picture of the problems schools face and scapegoats teachers and unions while ignoring much deeper sources of poor school performance like poverty, inadequate resources, top down bureaucratic management, and the misuses of standardization and testing. Rhee has not been successful in DC, check out the article “Proving Grounds” on the home page here. Test and punish “accountability” systems like the absurd AYP system are part of the problem, not the solution. We need more future educators dedicated to students, but it’s especially important for those coming into the profession to take a critical look at the business model reforms that Rhee and WfS promote.

OG — 15 November 2010, 13:00

How can you so easily disregard the very real problem that the teachers union does block change and protect bad teachers? Resources won’t fix that. You are correct that top down doesn’t work- that is an argument in favor of charter schools; so thanks.

@Mary- thanks for the Starbucks info; I know many who would like to counter your criticism with big “Thank You” to Starbucks!

CA Teacher — 16 November 2010, 16:07

Unions are a double edged sword. Yes, they protect bad teachers sometimes - they also protect good teachers. I know that first hand. Yes we need to examine how they operate but I wouldn;t ditch them altogether.

@Kat Schwartz - You hit a lot of things right on the head. There are a lot of teachers being bullied by administrators who are out for career advancement. They see test scores and educational trends as the vehicle for that. I’ve seen good administrators out there, but sadly the system has a tendency to attract the more ambitious ones.

ME Teacher — 17 November 2010, 18:06

Donors Choose, which is a site offering grant opportunities to teachers is also promoting this film, claiming that it opens dialogue about education. What a load of nonsense! Donors Choose is receiving money for every teacher who emails in and says they saw the film. Talk about killing your own! All this film does is bash teachers and unions, with no attention to the problems in our culture that sent us down the flue to this point. It certainly offers no answers or solutions. Their comments are very simplistic, and often down right wrong. Where is the mention of all the charter schools that fail? Where are they getting the wonderful teachers to put into charter schools, if we are all such a sorry lot? What about the really awful superintendents and all of their top heavy staff that eat up the money that should be spent on children and supplies?

As for the union bashing - they are the folks who brought us the weekend, limited work day, health benefits and the ability to negotiate our salaries rather than to beg for them. Unions are certainly not perfect, but considering the prevalent attitude that teachers are lazy, ignorant, and willfully awful, you’d better believe we need those unions.

NYC Teacher — 20 November 2010, 14:15

There will be no real progress in public education until the voices of teachers are included in education policy discussions. I teach in a large, urban high school, and I am surrounded by dedicated, caring, and incredibly hard working teachers. We are much more aware of the real problems facing public education than any of the policy makers who dictate education policy. We also have real solutions to bring to the table. Unfortunately, our voices are shut out of all education policy discussions, and we are treated like robots. Sadly, the public has been lead to believe that teachers have much more power than we actually have, and that somehow our misuse of this supposed power has lead to failures in public education. It is infuriating because those of us who went into teaching and decided to stick with it in the interest of helping children are now being blamed for the very problems we seek to solve. Meanwhile, power hungry administrators who increasingly have little to no teaching experience call the shots. In no other profession do the novices evaluate the more experienced professionals and set policies. Could you imagine an experienced doctor being told how to perform medical procedures by somebody who had never worked as a doctor or who had only done so for a very short time? Or an experienced lawyer being evaluated by a recent college graduate? Other professionals wouldn’t stand for it and would be rightfully outraged at the mere suggestion. Teachers, however, are told that if we even question the legitimacy of a system in which the least qualified make all the decisions we are somehow “negative” and “ineffective”. Clearly, the public has been sold a bill of goods, but the real crises in education is that our education policy makers do not respect teachers. In fact, our education policy makers should be teachers! And I’m not talking about first or second year Teach for America kids who have no intention of sticking with the career. I’m talking about real, professional, experienced teachers. You want to see positive changes in education- create a system in which teachers call the shots and are treated as professionals.

NV public school student — 22 November 2010, 00:31

I think this is a kind of unfair depiction of the movie. The movie even mentions how only 20% of charter schools are very successful, although the main praise goes to those great charter schools highlighted in the movie. The movie clearly states that these schools are usually the exception, and I think the point of showing these schools was really to show that there is something that can be done about our failing education system, even in those schools in the worst areas in America (eg the Harlem success academy, the KIPP academies). All it requires is innovative teachers and administrators. I go to what is regarded as one of the best public high schools in Nevada (also makes US News’ top 1000), however I have had just as many bad teachers as I have had great teachers. I see first hand what a joke of a tenure program has done to my education, as I watch my economics teacher lecture for approximately 10 minutes per day, and then subsequently play games on his computer for the rest of the time (not that I’m complaining, and I really do like the teacher on a personal level). I saw the movie “Waiting for Superman” with a group of teachers from my school along with some other students, and all of the teachers full-heartedly agreed with the general depiction of teacher unions—those teachers I was with had all canceled their membership with the union early on in their careers as they discovered the unions are purely a crutch for the bad teachers. Good teachers will be safe 99% of the time without a union, and I would fight (so would my classmates) to keep a teacher if I thought they were talented, even If I didn’t particularly like them, if they were in danger of being fired. I understand that some teachers feel as though this movie is a jab at them, but it’s not. It’s a jab at BAD teachers. Unions shouldn’t be obliterated, but the amount of clout that they carry is ridiculous. As a senior, I know i’ll be gone when the system finally changes, but it’s something I severely hope will change. If the teachers complaining about how teachers are portrayed in this movie could stand in an average student’s shoes, they wouldn’t be so vehemently opposed to changing some of these practices that do nothing but reward poor teaching.

NYC Teacher — 27 November 2010, 13:53

To NV public school student- do you really think that teachers complaining about how teachers are portrayed in the movie haven’t stood in an average student’s shoes? Teachers were all students once. Of course we understand the perspective of students- we were students ourselves for many years (more years than most, considering most of us have masters degrees). What is frustrating is really the inverse- all of the many people who consider themselves experts on how to teach because they were once students. You attack what you refer to as a “joke of a tenure system” as the real problem in education. The issue of teacher tenure has certainly been a hot topic in the media lately. The real joke, however, is that teacher tenure, at least here in NYC, where I teach, does not actually exist.

The term “tenure” is an unofficial term used by teachers to describe having completed the probationary period. Having successfully completed three years of probation simply means that a teacher cannot be fired without a reason and is entitled to a hearing where a decision is made by an independent third party. This is not the same thing as tenure - something that college professors are granted which really does guarantee job security for life. The tenure system in college is designed to protect academia, if you will, because it guarantees that certain professors, those who have published enough research to be considered a voice in the academic world, have the right to teach possibly controversial ideas and not have to fear losing their jobs as a result. School teachers don’t have this righ t- “tenured” or not. We can’t simply teach whatever we want to teach - we answer to some pretty strict mandates about that, actually.

Now, if you have a problem with the fact that teachers have the right to due process, I wonder if you have a problem with the fact that most public sector workers have this right. Cops, firemen, sanitation workers, state and city workers on almost every level, cannot be fired without a real reason and are entitled to defend themselves in a hearing first. The only difference with teachers is that, unlike other public sector workers, we have to earn it during three years of close scrutiny. The process is not, contrary to popular belief, automatic. Many people don’t make it through, and even more quit the job due to poor working conditions, unreasonable workload, and the disrespect they are often shown.

The idea of public sector workers having the right to due process, however, is a result of the Skelly laws - A California State ruling that public sector workers actually have a Constitutional right to due process. How this relates to the constitution, I’m not quite sure, but it is clear to me that public sector workers provide valuable public services while not being treated or paid very well, and that frequently knowing that one’s job will not be outsourced to India or disappear due to no fault of one’s own is frequently a big part of the reason they took the job in the first place. Take that incentive away, and you’ll have to give public sector workers another incentive - like MUCH higher pay and better treatment.

What upsets me, however, is that it seems that teachers, exclusively, are targeted as public sector workers who should lose this right. If you’ve ever worked with teenagers and children in modern day America, you know that accusations fly all the time. Scapegoating runs amok, and not all, but many children and teens do lie about their teachers. One of my close friends was accused of hitting a student. After a painful investigation proved that the student made the story up as a way of avoiding punishment for having cheated on a test, my friend’s reputation was cleared. This situation is not uncommon. It is clear to me that teachers, more than anybody else, need and deserve the right to due process in today’s crazy world. This doesn’t mean we can’t be fired. It simply means that the onus is on the administration to bring people who maybe should be fired to arbitration. This is not the teachers union’s job, nor is it their right.

If it were up to me, it would be up to the most experienced, qualified teachers to weed out some people, but we simply don’t have this right. So stop blaming unions and teachers, and look to administration - they have failed us all. One last note, NV public school student. Your writing indicates that you while you are only as naive as one would expect of a high school student, you have a solid control of grammar, sentence structure, and critical thinking skills. I imagine this is a result of a mixture of good parenting and dedicated teachers. From your limited student’s perspective, and with the solid education provided to you, you are able to criticize the very people who taught you those skills. Have you thought about thanking a teacher for the skills you have? Trust me - lots of hard work went into making you the the critic that you are.

David Rosenberg — 30 November 2010, 09:02

I have seen the film. What struck me and doesn’t seem to strike the media is something the really successful charters have in common - superb, charismatic leadership. My daughters’ high school principal may not be as charismatic, but he is a superb leader. Result - a superb school.

Education is a four legged school, the legs being motivated leaders, motivated teachers, motivated parents and motivated students. Take one away and you have metastable equilibrium. Take two away and you are on you ---. Non performing schools typically are one legged stools at best.

When you start with a student with a mother 13 years old and a dad in the pen, it is a tough slog.

Marie - Sub. Teacher — 07 December 2010, 09:15

I would love to see every public school in the same state equipped with what it needs for every child. There is no reason that one school should have to struggle for resources while another school has an overabundance. I would love to see some tax reform that takes school taxes, pools them together into one budget, and divvies the proceeds out according to need. If districts want more than their share, perhaps a grant system could be in place, where teachers and/or administrators could apply for these monies.

I also would like to see the probationary period for teachers shortened to 1 or 2 years. 3 is too much.
Truly, after a year, it should be clear whether or not you have hired a capable teacher.

I also would like to see many more parents involved in their child’s education, and not just in being taught the basics. Schools are taking on too much of the role of character education. Parents, this is your PRIMARY job. You should be teaching character from birth.

I don’t think teacher bashing solves anything. I also don’t think competition in the education system is good for our kids. Why should we encourage a climate where people would step on & over each other to rise to the top? Don’t we want teachers to see each other as equals and rise to a high degree of professionalism, rather than see who finishes their career with the most money in hand? One of the great perks of teaching is that you can be a professional and not be part of a rat race.

tony tennis — 07 December 2010, 19:41

There was a film prepared for national distribution that was blocked by the coporate controllers. This film hammered the lack of sound reasoning and sound research in making superman
1. obama put his foot in his mouth when he betrayed the teachers across the nation 2, Hitler did the exact same thing when he imprisioned the top flight educators who were teaching his rush to power as deceptive . 3 A well beloved teacher in LA comitted suicide when his name was published as ineffective in the LA times He was beloved by fellow teachers and he worked every Saturday to tutor them. 4 A teacher with 45 years of experience elected to teach in the ghetto of LA for her last 5 years before retiring. Her name was published by the LA times as ineffective. It was discovered that she had inumerable accolades from former students who had done quite well in life.. thanks to her. 5 Arnie Duncan and Kevin Johnson and Michelle Rhee are miniscule in comparison to the 2 fine EFFECTIVE educators who were scandalised by the LA Times and actually assasinated by the paper. Duncan and Rhee left their previous jobs virtually hated. Rhea has only taught schools in Maryland for 3 years. You would lose a lot of money if you bet on duncaan ,rhea , and all of the fine fancy teachers of obamas kids turning around any ghetto school in the nation as teachers 6 Grant Union High School in North Sacramento California passed ALL of the state required tests and do you see obama sending a research team to analyze why? Was this fine school deep in the ghetto saluted and given accoladeds and studied? These accolades would go also to all of the feeder schools to Grant HS and their feeder schools. 7 The above 3 do not stand shoulder to shoulder with the the parents of public school kids and the great majority of teachers in the nation. They advocated humiliation, 401 ks, union busting .

Jessica - College Student — 08 December 2010, 22:30

Is there anywhere where I can watch the film “Waiting for superman” online? I have tried looking for it and nothing. I really want to see it so that I can share with fellow classmates to support the cause for public schools.

Alan — 09 January 2011, 12:08

I’vejust seen the film. no danger of it gaining too much support here in the UAE, I was alone in the cinema! Anyway, at first I was utterly engaged in the kids’ lives, and spent some time working out how I could invite my colleagues to a showing. But..then..the..scales…fell from my eyes as mister private school director heaped abuse on teachers, unions, and the wilfully ignorant who could not see the wisdom of the latest kick-ass administrator.Where was the voice of the teachers? Was moved again at the ending, but felt it was so manipulative. The pleasure of being alone in a cine a is that you can fart REALLY LOUD?

me, myself & i — 28 February 2011, 11:15

Amazingly, almost every comment above has either a speelling, or an grammar, or punctuation error?

Patrick — 15 March 2011, 20:52

It is not manipulative at all. Wake up and help the children. When people are crying at the fact that they have to go to public schools, something has failed us. His points are valid as ever. I am from Detroit and my wife teaches there. The unions almost killed the auto industry and now they are killing our students.

Your own union turned down the opportunity to make more money based on performance, but instead the union was fearful it would lose supporters and shot it down. It is facts. In 2007 the graduation rate in the city of Detroit was 30%. In 2006 was the Detroit teachers union strike.

What exactly did you accomplish with that strike?

Buy the movie and get the truth.

Drew — 16 March 2011, 01:01

Couldn’t agree with the post above more. You are all losers. It is not debating if teachers have rights… it is debating if students have the right to an equal education throughout their lives.

Think about it for a second… an accountant doesn’t have a right to work. A steel worker doesn’t have a right to work. Any business your job is not guaranteed and yet with teachers you are guaranteed a job? Please. If the school is failing a principal should be fired. If a school is failing teachers should be removed. Just like if a baker can’t bake or an accountant keeps making mistakes… they will get fired and so too should a teacher.

The greatest part about this documentary is that a grad with a masters from Harvard in education, along with numerous teachers from different walks of life are stepping up and saying we can do better. It is time for you all to step up and do better.

Brian — 20 March 2011, 03:34

I have seen the film and think it is pro-public schools. It’s a call to action for those who are in the educational system and those who care about it and the future of our children and ultimately our country.
I’m not sure what the agenda of this site is. However, if you don’t agree with the film and think there is a better way to fix our educational system then produce your own film and have your voice heard. Until then please put down the rocks and join in helping us make a positive change rather than producing more useless debate.

LittleLindsay — 25 March 2011, 14:45

Lets face it,
I’m a junior in the state of Illinois,
and i”m the minority in a mainly hispanic and black school,
(But i’m bi-racial myself, Mixed with white and hispanic)
Going where i’m going now, Where my school has not maybe AYP in the last 8 years, and the average ACT score is a 16, Something is not only wrong with the adminstration, Who is too busy dealing with facebook drama, between people posting fights and such trash, but the teachers and students as well, I have a teacher who is older, and she has just given up on educating us, and she is my math teacher, She sits there runs a powerpoint on the Smartboard, and texts in class, How is that justified as teaching? Last time I checked a teacher can’t just run a powerpoint and call it a day, She blames it on our class having 28 kids but jesus christ, Math can not be learned just by powerpoints.
And parents need to be involved, that equals a student doing moderatly well to doing amazing. Public education has everything to blame on everyone. We are all at fault. As a student, I see seniors who can’t read at a freshman level, Why because “reading is stupid”
And to that comment I say,
Go get shot.

Anna — 10 April 2011, 11:44www.manestreeteducation.com

As a susscriber to Rethinking Schools I began watching Waiting for ‘Superman’ with a critical eye. However, the film clearly did not say that Charter Schools were the answer and I am left to believe who here has the agenda?

NWFS — 10 April 2011, 16:49

@Patrick….for a look at how WfS reform is affecting Detroit schools see “Hope for the Hopeless”

NWFS — 10 April 2011, 17:01

@Brian…the people who put up this site are public school teachers who make positive change in schools everyday. They are not rich hedge fund managers and right wing investors who want to privatize public education. Rethinking Schools has a 25 year history of working for equity and social justice in education in public schools across the nation.

You could do a better job of informing yourself about the issues. Try reading this:

NWFS — 10 April 2011, 17:08

@Anna….the film does not contain a single positive image of a public school or a public school teacher. All the positive examples are highly selective, privately-subsidized charter schools. Just this week, a New York Times article on the “Deadlocked Debate Over Education Reform, noted “In this struggle over storylines, the documentary film “Waiting for Superman,” with its lionization of charter schools, represented a major victory for ‘reformers.’”

The film is neither balanced nor accurate in its framing of the issues facing public education. That’s why we put up this site. Our ‘agenda’ is to defend and improve public schools for all.

Due to “comment spam” it has become necessary to remove the commenting feature from the pages of this site. Please read, “Like” and comment at our Facebook page: Facebook.com/NotWaitingforSuperman.

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