Waiting for the Teachers' Union
Joel Klein with a spot-on column:
If you do one thing this weekend, go see Davis Guggenheim's latest documentary, Waiting for Superman, which opens in theaters across the country today. The film, which has been met with well-deserved critical acclaim, paints a blunt and at times heartbreaking picture of the state of public education in America, told through the stories of families fighting to get their children into safe, high-performing schools.
First, it's a terrific film. But more importantly, it has helped catapult the debate on education reform to the national stage.
It's not surprising that the film is making many people uncomfortable. The truth is harsh. It's easier to turn away than to watch a crying mom clutch a losing lottery ticket that just cost her child a spot at a top-performing charter school.
What is surprising is that some--including the teachers' unions--are railing against the film, dismissing it as anti-teacher and pro-charter school propaganda.
Superman is not anti-teacher; nor does it suggest that charter schools are the answer. Teachers are the heroes of any education success story, and Superman recognizes that. It also recognizes that there are good charters schools and bad charters schools. But it demonstrates that charters are finally providing families in traditionally disadvantaged communities with more choices--something affluent families have always had--thus increasing the chances for better outcomes. And the most successful charters, like the Harlem Children's Zone schools that are run by Geoff Canada, who stars in the film, or the KIPP schools featured in it, are proving that success doesn't depend upon where you come from, or the color of your skin, or how much money your family has--because they are getting real results in the poorest communities.
Posted: September 24, 2010 04:52 PM