Monday, October 18, 2010

Waiting for Superman

I recently learned of a documentary that is being shown in certain cities called "Waiting for Superman". After hearing that this was focused on children in America and our education system, I thought that I really didn't have a strong need to watch this since I, a.)am not in school b.) don't have a child, and c.) therefore don't have a child in school. Stupid me to think that! Once I started hearing more and more about this documentary the more I want to see it. Of course since I live in Alabam-er we don't get any breakthrough documentaries showing in our theatres. Luckily though Oprah did a 2 show special on this and I feel that this is a subject all citizens of our society should be aware of whether we are in school, have a child in school, or not.

Basically the premise of this documentary is that the American education school system is failing our children. There are millions of children in school who aren't being taught correctly, being looked over, and forgotten. There are tons of children who want to learn but are being failed by the teachers and our system. HUGE disclaimer here--there are TONS of great teachers who are doing an awesome job, and this is not about you. The problem is the teachers and faculty who are not so great and don't care about the students. In some states there is a lottery system to get into so-called "good" schools. I saw clips of families shouting and crying with joy after their child was selected to attend these schools, and others bursting in tears when their child was not. One woman stated how she knew her son (who was maybe 6) getting into the "good" school would make the difference of him going to college or jail. Wow. That really strikes home and makes the Social Worker in me upset. Why should a child have to win a lottery to get a good education?

Another problem discussed is putting children into different programs or tracks such as a vocational degree, college prep degree, advanced placement degree, etc. The problem they pose with this is that unless there is a specialized problem such as a disorder or mental deficit, shouldn't we expect all of our students to be knowledgeable about the concepts taught in school? To say, oh well you just want this type of degree so we won't make you learn more. Does this sound okay to anybody? It doesn't to me. I believe you live up to the goals you set for yourself. This starts with the education system and carries on to our lives. If we set high goals and expectations for children as students, then they learn they should strive to meet them-- and have teachers who are supportive and helpful to get them there. They then learn that in life to set high goals for themselves and that when the going gets hard they must continue to push on and to try harder. Instead, we are basically giving up on students learning concepts that may be marked "too difficult" and showing them that they are not worth trying for? No one truly believes that they can do better? What type of message does that send to children and teens? Give up on yourself doing anything difficult, it just isn't worth it, or can't/won't happen?

Before I step off my soapbox of this subject I want to give you a few facts I learned. This is what really started the spark in me to be interested in this subject and think of how this subject doesn't directly affect me but soon will. Our nation is now ranked #26 out of 30 countries with our students test scores in math and science. Almost dead last. We used to be on top! This is the first time the younger generation will be LESS knowledgeable than the one before it. What will happen to our country and our future? America is one of, if not, the leading country with our power, intelligence, and business. Will this continue with our education system working the way that it is now? John Legend says he believes the fight for reform within our school system is going to be this generations' civil-rights movement. I agree that it is something we all should look into and fight for not just for our future childs'/generations' sake, but for our country as well. If I get the chance to see this documentary I certainly will, and recommend you do so as well.


  1. I read this yesterday on my phone and couldn't comment. Time Magazine had an huge article about the schools in America and this film about a month or so ago. I feel the same and I am a teacher. Our schools are terrible. they haven't changed in 40 years and the everything else has. umm somethings gotta give...guess that statics of 26 out 30 did???? Scary huh??? I have been in good schools where I worked with innovative teachers that inspired and encourage kids, and places where teachers collect a paycheck. It really is amazing...I could stand on my soapbox with you all day long. I so want to see this film. Nicely put Jess...Rant over.

  2. Oh Paige, I feel so relieved to hear that you being a teacher feel the same way. It's amazing how little I really knew about our school system and once I learned about this I just felt like there was no way I could NOT advocate for this change. It's easy to say "Oh I'll just move here so my kids can go to school X and get a good education" but truthfully they should be able to get a good education anywhere! Especially in America!