Tonight my husband was at his alma mater, cheering on Belmont's basketball team so I invited my co-worker and great friend Sarah over for a little post-work dinner/movie time. We had both been wanting to check out the movie Waiting for Superman and I just happened to have received it from Netflix this week.
I don't know if maybe this affected me differently because I work with students who are facing a gigantic achievement gap, but this movie left me in tears. Our public school system is ridiculous, and I think Davis Guggenheim did a really terrific job of exposing our countries short comings. A lot of us who grew up in decent neighborhoods, had parents who supported our education and encouraged us to go to college never even think about what it's like for so many kids in the country. A great education is something that parents really have to seek out at this point, and there are many parents who don't have the means or knowledge to do that. This movie follows around 5 students who have applied for charter schools because their home school is at a failing level. It shows them going through a lottery process and it shows most, if not all of them not being accepted because the number of spots is so limited. As I visit the schools that my students attend I see so many things that could be changed and reinvented, but our system doesn't allow for it. I see with my own eyes how "no child left behind" is epically failing to support each one of these kids.
I'm still not quite sure what to do with what I just watched. My brain is definitely still processing all this information and I'm trying my hardest not to sink into that "our system is doomed, there is no hope" mentality. To be honest though... it's hard. Statistics have proven that about half of the students I see daily will drop out of high school. They will suffer the same fate as their parents. They will live off the government in public housing and on food stamps, join a gang, never get a job or just have no sense of self worth. Does this start with poor schooling? Does this stem from inadequate teachers and role models?
The problem is so wide, and the solution is so debated. What really struck me the most is what Michelle Rhee had to say about the problem stemming from adults, not children; which is my major argument day in and day out. I couldn't find the exact quote but she said something to the effect of: we would rather ignore the issues we see and disadvantage millions of students just so that we don't have to put up with the backlash from the adults involved. Which is crap. A HUGE load of crap. I could be a million times more effective at my job if I didn't have to deal with "adult" problems... the people who stand in my way and who don't have the students interest in mind. It's more about money, and saving face, and who you know than it is about helping and I know this is what all the great teachers out there face daily in the school system.
Sorry for the seriousness and for pushing my opinion. This is just something that has been really heavy on my heart since we've been in Nashville and I've seen the school district here. I would really recommend adding this movie to your queue, it's not as intense and I may have made it out to be haha. I can't wait to watch it again and do some more research about about what I can do, and what is going on in the world. End rant :)