Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I could give you many reasons, I'll settle for one

Without getting on a soapbox about why you should see Waiting for Superman, I'll post my #7 from my Mondo List:

Fight for Education reform because it’s immoral to let any child settle for a lifetime of missed opportunity

Regardless of the intention of editing in the final minutes of the film would you be hard pressed to find anyone without a lump in their throat. This movie is uplifting, heart breaking, and inspiring as you follow five families in their quest to make the best of the educational options in the public school system.

While there is a definite agenda in the direction of reform, the case is convincingly made that we are failing not only urban but also suburban students. The statics are staggering in regards to drop out rates, the minority achievement gap, and the lack of lottery seats available in non-traditional school options. Most notable is the featured work of KIPP schools, SEED, Teach for America, and Geoffrey Canada.

I hope that much in the same way that the director's first first film, an Inconvenient Truth, started a national dialogue about the environment, I hope Superman will do the same for public school reform.

The cynic in my says, enough grad school classes have taught me that for the duration of public education, someone has proposed the panacea for the perpetual ailments. How can this be any different?

If anything comes of people viewing my hope is for a greater public realization of how we set up, fund, assign students, and ultimately grade our schools flies directly in the face of sanity. I know this firsthand from the inside out. Taking this year off has only amplified how unhappy I have been for the better part of the last 5 years. A common complaint among teachers is feeling you are trying to quell a storm of bureaucratic mandates that takes time away from the focus of simply teaching.

I know that even before this movie, and in light of the controversies that have now gained national attention here in our home school district, I am moved to action.
Of my Mondo goals, this has the most potential to impact someone other than myself or family.

I am starting with the smallest of baby steps believing something greater is possible:

1. Encouraging friends to see this movie. I want to help start a conversation about supporting not only their children's school, suggest considering the same support for other schools in the district that are also needing of the same attention.

2. Compel teacher friends to see this movie and not take a defensive position. There is quite a bit of public backlash from teachers who fill vilified by presentation as lazy and obstacles to reform. We all know and have experienced good versus detrimental teaching. A good teacher can set in motion success, and but the same token disinterested teaching can damage and demotivate.

2. We are choosing 3 schools within our district to fund their needs on DonorsChoose.org as part of our holiday giving. We are involving Ben by adding this giving to our month of Advent practices and nightly gratitude jar. In addition I want to follow up with these schools next year to ask how we can continue to support the work they are doing with students.

3. Last week I was offered additional sections of my online class for the spring. I cannot tell you how much the transition to teaching online has renewed my love of the sheer connection to working with students on the most basic level.

In the next few months I will find out where I will be reassigned at the end of leave. My heart is pulling me where I think I will be happiest and also can likely do the most good. If at all possible, that is working from home.

Please see this movie and more importantly be moved to react and not take a position of apathy.

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