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Mike — 21 December 2011, 17:14

before anyone comments, I see my typos and grammatical errors. This movie evoked a lot of emotion and I typed too fast without proof reading it. Luckily, it’s not being graded.

Mike — 21 December 2011, 17:09

Just watched the film and it demonstrated what I have felt the main problem with education has been in this country since the 1970s…..Teacher’s Unions that have gotten out of control. Unions in general are good. However, our teacher’s union today along with our national education department is by and large the biggest reason they are failing our children. Bad teachers should be fired. Local educational boards should have the most control over their districts, they are best positioned to know what their community’s children need. Four decades of putting the unions first has produced the stupidest batch of children in history. Our system failed, it’s time to stop being bullied by the unions and put in place the reforms that will put our children first. Seeing the success of the schools in this film proves without a doubt that there is a better way to do this. You can print all the propaganda on this website you want, the only people listening our union members. The rest of us are enlightened and will bring forth change.

Sarah M. — 11 December 2011, 12:56

Just watched the film “Waiting for Superman”
Here are my questions/comments:

-What about failing charter schools?
-What about charter school’s ability to kick kids out based on behavior, ability or needs? Doesn’t this inflate test scores?
-Drop out rates for charters?
-The charter school gave every student a tutor- this is why kids did better, not because the teachers were better! More resources = better schools.
-All the “great” things about charter school have nothing to do with teachers/teacher unions. There is no reason why public schools couldn’t adopt these same practices- offering tutoring services, lowering class sizes, providing increased services etc.
-Demonizes unions
-Does not show failing charter schools or successful public schools.
-No representation of teachers/ teachers union.
-“The top charter schools are sending over 90% of there kids to 4 year colleges.” What about the top public schools?
-Compares top charters to failing public schools. What about comparing failing charters vs. successful public schools?
-Where is the connection between teachers unions keeping schools down and charter schools success? Connection not made clear.
-What about the instances where charter schools have drained public schools of funding/students- turning successful schools into failing ones?
-No talk about the need for structural change or the fact that communities, teachers, students or parents have absolutely no say/control in their schools.
-Unions painted as the “barrier to change”
-Anyone who thinks corporations and billionaires have an interest in empowering our urban youth is sorely mistaken/mislead. There interest is in making money.

Zack Bruce — 24 February 2011, 01:03

hedge funds are funding charter schools. what is so bad about that? charter schools do not have “minimal public oversight”, as the author says, but instead their charters are reviewed every year. that is more oversight than the public schools have ever had. charter schools have greater accountability, and have proven more effective at EDUCATING AMERICA’S FUTURE than public schools in america (and more so in NYC).
get a clue, lady. just because politics is part of the narrative, doesn’t mean politics is what drives it. if the hedge fund managers’ driving of charter schools makes them better schools, haven’t they achieved the ultimate goal? aren’t we in this to make american education the best that it can be?!

GT — 21 February 2011, 02:43

I just saw the film as well. At least it led me to give more thought to the condition of education in my community (not so good). I agree with the last post. I don’t think the film bashed teachers. It bashed bad teachers. Every profession has bad practitioners. I am grateful for the good teachers in my education and the positive impact they had on my life. I also remember the bad teachers under which I had to endure. One, in particular, almost destroyed my interest in mathematics and another left an enduring distaste for Charles Dickens. Yet another left with me a love and insight into art history and another rescued my interest in math. I absolutely want to reward and celebrate good teachers. I also want bad teachers to find new occupations ASAP. Anything that stands in the way of that is a problem.

Tricia Piatt — 27 January 2011, 17:30

I saw the movie this afternnon. I am a mother with seven children and am now going on my 15th grandchild in July. My children have all gone to public school. I have always supported our local schools and our teachers. I would like to see WHATEVER needs to be done to improve our public schools. However, the students shown in the movie, have been left behind and too many decades have passed with nothing being accomplished to help and to educate these students. And in looking back, I can remember a couple of my kids being promoted when they had not earned the right and even though I supported them being detained, the school pushed them through. Fortunately for my kids, they had other advantages that made up for any short-comings in the public schools. I do not think it is fair to imply that the movie “bashes teachers”. It asks us to demand the removal of BAD teachers and THAT is something that all American adults should be demanding.Instead of working against the Superman movie, I would like to see groups working to support changing public schools, adapting any and all of the positive programs from any source, getting rid of all bad teachers, paying good ones what they deserve,letting them know what heros they are, and most importantly, I want to see the various groups interested in education, demand the reform or closing of all the schools that fail our children. And to demand that it gets done NOW, no more lost decades! We don’t need more devision in this nation, we need positive results and people working together. Facts and new ideas should not be feared, only ignorance is fearful. Getting all bad teachers out of the way, HELPS the good teachers. And to all of the wonderful teachers out there, I say, thank-you…..some of you got my daughter and grand daughter writing poetry, some got my kids interested in prehistoric animals, some encouraged math, there are so many of you who care about doing a good job and who enjoy your students. The good ones of you out there, deserve so much more then a thank-you. You deserve, great pay, and good, safe, schools.

Larry Paros — 10 January 2011, 15:43www.walkrightinthemovie.com

Please support the anti-Superman film— the story of a progressive school that we created more than 40 years ago which is still relevant today: www.walkrightinthemovie.com. We need to get the word out. Help!

NWfS — 22 December 2010, 18:26

Stan Karp’s talk about “Who’s bashing teachers and public schools?” makes some useful distinctions between legitimate criticism of public education and efforts to dismantle it:

“The parent who’s angry at the public school system because it’s not successfully educating his/her children is not the same as the billionaire with no education experience, who couldn’t survive in your classroom for two days, but who has made privatizing education policy a hobby….and who has the resources to do so because the country’s financial and tax systems are broken.

“The educators who start a community-based charter school so they can create a collaborative school culture, are not the same as the hedge fund managers or their political allies who invest in charter school franchises because they see an opportunity to turn a profit or want to privatize one of the last the public sector institutions we have left.

“The well-meaning college grad who joins a Teach for America program out of an altruistic impulse is not the same as the corporate managers who want to use market reforms to create a less expensive, less secure and less experienced teaching force.

“And the hard-pressed taxpayer who directs frustration at teachers struggling to hang on to their health insurance or pensions—which far too few people have at all—is not coming from the same place as those responsible for the obscene economic inequality that is squeezing both. Back home in NJ, there’s a man named David Tepper who manages something called the Appaloosa Hedge fund. Last year, Tepper made $4 billion dollars as a hedge fund manager. This was equal to the salaries of 60% of the state’s teachers who educate 850,000 students. But Governor Christie rolled back a millionaire’s tax and cut $1 billion out of the state school budget, so people like David Tepper would have lower taxes. It’s not only impossible to sustain a successful public school system with such policies; it’s impossible to sustain anything resembling a democracy for very long.”

Check out the rest of his talk here.

SK — 02 November 2010, 22:16

@DW…Money’s not the answer, but money matters.

School Funding Unfair in Many States

DW — 19 October 2010, 11:13

Why is the answer always more money? A recent report said a Nordic country (Sweden?), ranks near the top of educational standards yet spends far less than the USA? That alone raises a discerning question as to whether there is a direct correlation between increased funding and academic performance. At some point, the answer lies elsewhere to increased performance. Frankly, most government entities are not bastions of productivity and efficiency. My spouse worked in a local district for years and was appalled at the wasted money that didn’t go to helping kids. Yet the district wants more money. *sigh*

Bob Peterson — 15 October 2010, 11:37

A very thoughtful article on quality teaching has just been released by the Economic Policy Institute. It takes on the Klein Rhee position that the main problem in schools is that unions prevent district from getting rid of bad teachers.


AJ — 05 October 2010, 13:09

I agree. The poster is obnoxious. Actually I think this is what will happen to public schools (and the public sector generally) if the proponents of this movie get their way. They want to privatize, de-unionized, and de-democratize our public institutions.

TW — 05 October 2010, 08:11http://smokingtowardnewjersey.blogspot.com/

Have you taken a good look at the “Waiting for Superman” movie poster? I did, and I was appalled: “You knew things at school were bad, but you didn’t realize how bad, did you? Think nuclear holocaust. In fact, think the end time, that vision of the biblical apocalypse that heralds the second coming…” More about the movie poster here:

Edna K — 03 October 2010, 05:44

I am totally appalled to find out that Michelle Rhee has been given so much authority and confidence. Her teaching experience was only three years, this is deplorable. I believe DCPS has been used as human guinea pigs by Michelle Rhee and some think-tank narcissistic.

…..concerned DCPS Alumni and Washingtonian

tom b — 02 October 2010, 22:03

The question is whether there are resources to help teachers become better teachers. In some locals there are peer assistance and review programs run jointly by the union and the school district. Unfortunately, the Arne Duncan and gang don’t see fit to fund those programs, but instead have pushed ahead with merit pay schemes.

zoe jefferson — 02 October 2010, 19:03

It’s a complex issue. However, when I look at my school - I think there are teachers who could be more effective…could have more of a heart for their students.

lynn d — 02 October 2010, 18:29

I taught high school level English in the School District of Phila. for over twenty years. I had to retire way ahead of time because I would have become very ill if I hadn’t.

A bad situation has become worse. However, on the bright side, I have some ideas about how to fix things at least somewhat:

1. No more “differentiated” teaching or heterogeneous classes. I also have a Master’s Degree in Dance. It would be the height of folly to put different levels of dance students into the same class. The advanced ones wouldn’t progress, and the lowest level students would suffer injuries. It is no different for other disciplines. Homogeneous classes are necessary for effective learning. Students should be evaluated in terms of proficiency levels, attitude, and behavior. There should be teachers to handle ALL different types of students, but IN DIFFERENT CLASSES.

2. There could be large rooms with computers where students would have on line programs. These students would have a few teachers in the class to interact with them and help them with these programs.

3. Many schools are extremely old, filthy, overcrowded, ugly and depressing. However, most politicians think that billionaires, and multi-national corporations, banks, etc. should get money rather than have our schools improved. (Dylan Ratigan can tell you about it).

4. Most importantly, you can’t grow beautiful flowers in lousy soil, no matter how great the seeds. Longer hours with great teachers won’t help students who are high, disinterested, hostile, emotionally disturbed, and generally recalcitrant. We need very small classes, lots of counseling, and special attention for these poor kids. We don’t need to put them in with others who don’t have these obstacles.

5. Special education students are just that: Special. They need special classes and special teachers. Mainstreaming is a nightmare. When I taught dance at a high school, about a dozen special ed students were “dumped” into my classes. They were ridiculed, acted out, and the situation was just awful.

All of the above takes money, effort, and caring. The school administrators and politicians are full of it. Let them try teaching in inner-city high schools, and then talk.

AEP — 02 October 2010, 08:55

Thanks for all the information on your website. I wish all the teacher unions would send this out to their members.

Denise — 01 October 2010, 23:36

I live near the Portland OR area and have taught 15 years. Thanks for getting the word out—The Race to the Top will destroy all the good with the bad.
Sign me up for your action committee!

EG — 01 October 2010, 23:35

I would like to advocate for democratic, community-based education reform. Please let me know how I can help.

WC — 01 October 2010, 23:34

Thanks for putting this informationn up, and so quickly—well done!

Although I teach in Canada (and ain adult education), we see similar a similar underlying neo-liberal ideology in some Ministry personnel.

I am the editor of our Professional Specialist Associations Journal (adultedpsa.wordpress.com/ ) in adult education and I got the link and Facebook out as wide and as quickly as possible. The first screening of this film here, in Vancouver, B.C., is Monday during the Film Festival.

Although a lot of Canadian teachers benefit from the innovation of our colleagues to the south, I think one of the dangers for us is that we do not face the same pressures as you do in the US (and similar appraoches in the UK). Therefore, so-called ‘solutions’ gleaned from your side of the border are seen as fixing ‘crisis’ here, yet the crisis is equally often hyperbole if not outright fabricated.

Thanks again. As a relatively new subscriber to Rethinking Schools, I’m looking forward to your next issue as well.

Keep fighting the good fight.

LF — 01 October 2010, 23:32

I am an English and ELL teacher in Skokie, Illinois. I am outraged by the film and the attach on school teachers in our country. What can I do to help? I’d like to get involved in some way.

NWfS — 01 October 2010, 07:56

@M. Izquierdo

are you in Wake County? I’ve read about a “Tea Party” takeover of the school board that is now trying to re-segregate the schools. not sure if it has anything to do with the problems you see in your school, but seems to be a major step in the wrong direction.


M. Izquierdo — 30 September 2010, 18:01

I’ Naturalized American Citizen from Cuba and I will be an immigrant until the last day of my life.My son attended Public Schools,since we came 16 years ago.He had incredible opportunities when he attended Public school and because of that I believe in Public Education Because of that,I decided to start working in public schools. I worked in MDCPS in Florida as a Community Liaison for 11 years, and I get deeply involved and in love with my job.Of course no everything was perfect there,but at that time was better there,I learned a lot from my co-workers and leaders there.At the present time I’m working for 5 years in one of the schools in NC and I sadly have to mention the deterioration instead of improvement in the quality of schools performance and the lack of leadership of some of our principals. Nobody can deny that we have very good educators,but the bad one are affecting the prestige of the good one. The Parental Involvement in Title I schools is not receiving the importance and the attention necessary,even though the schools receive the 2% of the Title I federal money.
Principals, although they were good educators before they were promoted, don’t show the necessary leadership and the courage to demand from the bad teachers, for example like teacher that practice physical punishment or a teacher that believe that is OK for college graduated or a certified teacher to mistake “are” for “our” in a simple sentence.(no matter this is a big Grammar mistake)In these two cases the principal was informed, but no actions were taken.Some time the schools are running in a way that we fill we are under some kind of secrecy.But the worst part is that when we encourage others to speak out about these and other situations people prefer to remain silent because they are afraid of retaliations and because, (according to them) they need their salaries to pay their mortgages,etc..Faculty meetings are monologues,where nobody say a word and if somebody say something is to be agree, showing no sign of professionalism. I want to make myself clear: all these aspects and other topics not mentioned here were share in person with the principal in the spirit of the best for our school.Until today, we didn’t get answers and we didn’t see any actions. I believe our children deserve better and same our parents and is our moral obligation to speak out.

L. Pearson — 30 September 2010, 17:01

Thank you for giving the teachers’ a voice. It has been extremely disturbing to see how the media giants are allowing only those who support this business takeover to have an opinion on air. I hope that this wakes up teachers, we have political power and we need to use it to get policy that is truly aimed at improving schools for students and teachers passed.

phyllis, retired teacher — 30 September 2010, 16:44

Teachers are the real Supermen & Superwomen. We are called upon to be in that role every day, and we do it admirably! Shame on the movie. Teacher bashing & union bashing do not solve public education’s problems.

TW — 29 September 2010, 22:59

Just wanted to thank you for creating the Not Waiting for Superman website. I hope you get a lot of traffic and inspire some truly thoughtful discussion.

I’m a parent of three public school kids, and “Waiting for Superman” had me so infuriated that I felt inspired to satirize some of the film’s arguments. Feel free to link if you’re interested.

The text is below; it’s on my blog here:

NWfS — 28 September 2010, 15:08

What are your reactions to the film and the discussions its has started about education issues?

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