Waiting for Superman...go see this movie if

you are in school, have ever gone to school, have kids in school, have ever had kids in school, may ever have kids in school, think education is important at all…or for that matter just want to go see the most depressing movie of the year if not the decade.

it may just be me and where I am at this point in my life, but I was close to tears more than once and no I dont cry at the movies.
spoilers later but not just yet, although its a documentary not fiction so I am not sure of that really matters.

I am a professional educator. Take that movie with a liberal grain of salt.

soooo have you seen or are you planning on seeing the movie?
does the fact that you are in the field somehow make you an expert on whats wrong?
(or for that matter do you honestly believe nothing is really wrong with public education?)
I have several relatives in the field and a few of my friends are also teachers. it seems to be a universal opinion that things are broken and in serious need of fixing. the issue of tenure is one I have heard from most of them as a serious complaint, including one woman who cannot get full time work in spite of her obvious talent in the field. She gets compliments on her skills and has been told more than once that she has a job once one of the crappy teachers she is subbing for leaves or retires…getting them fired is so often not possible.

I learned a lot from this flick, and I am personally offended by anyone in the field who is just getting through the day looking for a paycheck or worse active dislikes working with kids but refuses to go find another job.

anyway I am 90% asleep right now, going back to bed.

I’m a teacher and I have not yet seen the movie, but will eventually.

Oh, we had a thread about this a long time ago. October 9. :wink:

Took me 2 seconds to search for. :slight_smile:

Waiting for Superman

In that thread, someone linked to this article.

What Superman got wrong

Again, haven’t seen it yet, but I hope it does not suggest standardized tests are in any way beneficial. They’re terrible and quite useless.

Anyway, just thought you’d like to see the original thread.

Haven’t seen the movie yet, but likely will. I have read plenty about it.

Yes, being in the field does make me an expert on public education. I am also active in the largest teacher union in the United States, though I work in a state with weak unions. I also consider myself to be an expert with the many things that are right with public education.

Sure, there are bad teachers. There are also lots of good teachers. Any principal who is doing his/her job can fire any teacher who needs to be fired. All the principal must do is follow due process. Unfortunately, some principals do not do their homework and want to fire a teacher without following the process. Your statement that firing “crappy” teachers is not possible is simply not true. At all. My own mother (a retired school principal) has done it. Some administrators don’t know how to do it, but that is a different issue altogether.

Tenure is not the problem. Texas does not have tenure, so we must be a public education paradise.

I should add that I also have seen teachers fired from my district. I live in Michigan, which is a strong union state with tenure.

Yep, we’ve had tenured teachers fired, not just non-tenured.

To be honest, it’s quite rare, though. We tend to hire very good teachers in my district. However, as in any profession, some folks go loony or something and need to be removed.

I taught in a public high school for 6 years, (U.S. and World History) and I am not convinced that there is anything that will ever be done to dramatically improve public education in the USA in my lifetime.

The entire system (from the top down) is broken.

America is headed for a trainwreck.

Glad you resigned, then. I teach at a wonderful public school and not only do we do things right, we aren’t all that uncommon. We aren’t inner-city, of course, but we are pretty middle class.

Me too!!!

The standardized tests appear to be a bare minimum standard of achievement as a counter to schools producing high school graduates operating on a grade school level. If kids are taught at an appropriate level then the tests should be an insult to their skill levels.

Standardized tests would be fine, if they tested the right things. But too often, they test for memorization rather than for learning. A history test might, for instance, require the student to know that Columbus reached the New World in 1492 and the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. But that’s not history. It’s history to know that England had its hands full with France and couldn’t afford to keep bothering with colonists an ocean away, and that that’s why they gave up on America. And if a student thinks that that happened in 1775 instead of 1776, they’re really not missing anything important.

Likewise, we have arithmetic tests that are mis-labeled as math tests, despite not having any math content at all, and science tests talking about things like the “six simple machines”, despite there being a few dozen different simple machines, and the six they always talking about really only being three.

I can’t argue to content which should always be refined based on a well defined criteria. I know it’s just one history example and I agree with content but it’s a little scary to think kids wouldn’t know July 4th 1776.

Also, instead of teaching a broad, rich curriculum, teachers are pressured to just teach the most basic material over and over and over. “Teach to the test.” It’s all about getting as many of the lowest achievers up to the passing level as possible. The average-to-bright students who can easily pass the tests are bored out of their minds because they are in the same classroom and therefore subjected to the same remedial instruction as the kids who are at risk of failing.

My wife saw this film and, as it agreed with those opinions she held regarding public education in America going into the movie (without challenging a one, unlike her bad old husband), she wholeheartedly recommends it.

I gotta say, nothing I’ve heard about this movie makes me want to see it. Self-righteous documentaries are a genre I can do without in general, even when they’re not portraying my ilk as incompetent villains.

And while I am not looking for a big debate, I travel quite a bit, and have a pretty wide social network, and I have met and am friends with several other educators, from many different states and cities—I dont know a single public secondary-level educator that isn’t very concerned/pessimistic/scared shitless about the condition of the education system as a whole in the United States, and the ramifications for the future of the country.

As a student I’ve been both underserved and overserved. I was tagged as nearly functionally retarded in first grade until my Mom pointed out that putting me near the window was probably overly distracting (probably didn’t help that my 1st grade teacher was a bona fide bitch and half, even when I encountered her in later years).

Still, considered sub par student until we moved to Texas for half a year in 4th grade. They were generally stricter, but not sure if that was the solution, but in any case, when I moved to Oregon for the second half of my 4th grade year, suddenly I was tested as advanced. When I moved back to New York in my 5th grade, they put me in the Gifted and Talented program.

Since then, have had relative ups and downs academically speaking. Hard to pin down a specific cause or “scapegoat” for either.

In general, I excelled when I was believed in, when I wasn’t treated as inherently different from my teachers, and when I had a natural affinity or talent or enjoyment for the subject or teaching method. I didn’t excel when teachers or administrators pulled rank or pretended to be on some other level than me, or when the teaching was rote and didactic, or they treated me like I was dumb or beneath them.

I don’t see the issue with tenure. If a teacher truly begins to slack off as soon as they get tenure, they can still get fired for cause. And if an administrator fails to fire a truly incompetent educator during the long period leading up to tenure, then they themselves are incompetent.

I was born in 1974 Long Island NY. My gut feeling is to trust teachers on their feelings about standardized tests, and I agree in principle. But my personal experience is that, the teachers didn’t really pay any particular attention to them, let alone teach to them, and they didn’t take up much time in our curriculum. At least with regard to generalized tests.

Of course, things like the Regents (state based subject finals in high school) they did teach to. But in the subjects for which I did fairly well in or enjoyed, I didn’t feel like the Regents were particularly offensive. The multiple choice bits weren’t overly “must know specific date at the expense of real knowledge on the subject” and in cases where multiple choice wasn’t sufficient, there was some attempt at quantifying essays.

I think probably, teachers are fine. What’s needed is not more money or more teacher control per se, but to recognize and organize the system around the fact that students are different, and although it’s convenient to group students geographically, it’s not ideal.

I certainly would have excelled much more in a system where the teachers treat the students like they aren’t lower classed or subordinate, but rather humans with less experience and still under adult care. And which had a more workshop/artistic bent than a didactic ‘memorize random fact’ bent. And which helped me with practical life skills to complement whatever talents and skills I might have had or developed. OTOH I don’t think all students would have benefited thus. One size education does NOT fit all.

IOW I think probably elementary kids should be exposed to different teaching methods/philosophies, and then by junior high, be ported to school that specialize in the method/theory in which they in particular excel/blossom. Rather than be segregated merely geographically.

separate those who are struggling and teach to the class and not the lowest denominator?


If a person is wrong regarding basic facts, then any argument made is suspect from the very start. Like the above, for example - England didn’t have “its hands full” of France from 1776-1783 as claimed. The 7 Years War was 13 years past (dating from 1776) and England’s military involvement with the Revolution didn’t begin until 1792, 9 years after France brokered the Treaty of Paris. England lost because of logistics, because Washington was able to preserve an army long enough to finally work its will on England (at Yorktown), and because England wasn’t able to fight the sort of war necessary (including attrition and terror) to decisively beat the Continentals as they were faced with the political problem of re-integrating the Americans back into the Empire. The French helped, true, but England didn’t quit the American Revolution because they had more important things to deal with (regarding France, that is).

I do not understand the modern resistance to basic memorization, to be honest. If one doesn’t know basic facts, they cannot be considered educated regardless of how flowery the theory sounds.