After watching this compelling work about the nation-wide damage to American elementary and highschool education, it leaves me bewildered. I’m taken back by how America continues to allow failing schools, bad teachers, and disadvantaged students—On second thought, I’m not surprised.
The documentary looks into the lives of at least four kids at different stages of their academic marathon. Unlike a marathon based on skill and talent, these kids hope to be selected to better schools based on a lottery, a game of chance where the probability of acceptance is too narrow to draw-out a starting line.
The highlight is that instead of “waiting for superman,” a few have taken the initiative to save the educational system one-child-at-a-time. An example is Geoffrey Canada (his name not the country) and the lifelong teaching improvements from his school in Harlem, New York. These mere-mortals are featured as signs of hope in this real-life tragedy.
Actually, in this episode, “Superman” is the government; or any wish that America, with its equality-promise, would save us from our educational calamities:
Guess what? No-one came. All are not saved.
If there’s a superhero, then there must be a villain. Clearly the film picks one: Teachers unions.
Teachers unions, with their out-dated policies and bureaucracy, make for an easy target with overwhelming facts against them. These unions are also politically organized. I suspect some push-back for ‘playing the bad guy’ without given a script—yet again, I’m not surprised.
As in any story, there’s a cliff-hanger conclusion: What will happen next that could really make a difference to our schools?
In response, I’m not surprised about the facts and figures, friends and foes, in our educational system, because they support a status quo. How else could we see the same damaging arguments, but different groups with different aims come up with different responses?
The conclusion is no cliffhanger at all: Adults and job security are getting in the way of real education.
As any comic book, I’m left with a moral message (somewhat opposite than what the feature intended):
I see the secret and potential ‘real superheroes’ are the parents and communities. They are the ‘kryptonite’ to the educational system including all teachers and institutions: good, bad, or from another planet.
In other words, if parents became lifelong educators, mentors, and guides, then the community would not seek out good teachers, but create environments where education is another standard of living, like money, food, and a good movie. Parents add to childrens’ learning by teaching them, being living examples or what to do and what mistakes to avoid.
In this new direction: Hope turns into responsibility and results. It takes education out of the hands of teachers into the arms of a national family that includes all. Thus the new heroes are not only a few supermen and women or dynamic duos; but a mighty multitude, a courageous crowd that continually teaches and learns.