The University of Richmond and a few other community groups organized a free viewing of the movie and then hosted a “courageous community conversation” following the movie1 Since I was haranguing people in person last night, I figured the least I could do was extend my efforts to the Internet.
In case you haven’t seen it,Waiting for Superman is a long infomercial for charter schools. I would encourage watching it if-
you love when things are simplified and polarized for maximum controversy
you are looking for clips to use in your own charter school infomercial
you want some stats to throw around in conversations
The two options the movie gives are staying with union-based failing public schools or going to magical charter schools which guarantee success2. The fact that we have many “failure factories” in non-union states is ignored. There is no mention of any charter schools failing.
I went into this figuring that even if the movie sucked, it would at least get people talking about education. I was mistaken. This movie simply provides a scapegoat for people who want one and it does it in a way that makes this conversation even more emotional.
In the live conversation, I probably came across as angrier than I was. The fact that a woman felt compelled to hug the guy I responded to seems to indicate that. For the record, I was more frustrated than angry. Saying all this hippie “all children can learn” stuff doesn’t do anything. It’s in NCLB. It’s in every school mission statement I’ve ever seen. It’s not that I don’t believe this, but pretending it’s a revolutionary thought that will now change education is stupid.
1 In case you were in my group, I was the guy that people started moving away from once I denounced the “Every kid can learn” guy. I was not the guy quoting Gladwell.
2 Apparently, because they work so much harder and really believe every student can learn.
This is one of those easy options for vocabulary. I thought of it when I saw the 2011 Mediocrity commercial embedded below.
Essentially, they pick one of the vocabulary words and use it as a car name. The students would draw up a one page ad1 (with relevant copy) for the car that plays off the word they choose. It would certainly be more fun with word you wouldn’t normally associate with cars. I’d make sure I posted these in the room for future use.
You wouldn’t do it all the time but it’d be one of those options I’d have for my students to pick from.
I’d make an ad for the Abstinence that shows just a frame and chastises you for wanting doors, seats, etc.