Verizon's Rose Kirk, vice president – public relations for corporate reputation, had the opportunity to view a screening of the new Waiting for Superman documentary this week. That, coupled with President Obama's announcement of the Change the Equation Initiative, has elevated discussion on the need for education reform.
The efforts inspired Rose to post an item about education reform on Verizon's responsibility blog. I've included a clip from the blog below, along with the link.
Give it a read. What do you think. Will this time be different, is the U.S. on the edge of a wave of reform? Is reform needed?
Education Reform – What will it Take?
First, you engage with your heart; then your mind is provoked; suddenly outrage erupts. Once the emotions subside, you ask, “how did it come to this and what can I do to help?”
At least that’s how I’ve felt this week as I listened to, and engaged, in debates and dialogue surrounding the buzz coming from our Nation’s Capital and elsewhere on education reform.
In D.C. on Wednesday, I attended a screening of a documentary assured to create a firestorm of debate and a list of solutions to poor teachers, poor-performing schools (no matter if they are in rich or poverty-stricken neighborhoods), and teachers’ union rules that prevent administrators from dismissing those viewed as unengaged, ineffective and not interested in teaching, though they show up daily in classrooms to do so. Titled “Waiting for Superman”, it is simultaneously thought-provoking and mind-numbing. Read more .... http://forums.verizon.com/t5/Responsibility-Blog/Education-Reform-What-will-it-Take/ba-p/237928
It’s going to take more than just a “blame the teacher” mentality in order to education reform to really work, that’s for sure! I love to invite those who are in charge of spearheading the reform campaign to actually come and teach- not observe, for more than just a day to get a true taste of what it means to be a teacher of a classroom full of students with various needs and abilities. First you find that teaching requires a lot of patience, passion and prayer to make it through the day. Second you will find that you are not just a “teacher” to your students, but there are times when you must act as counselor, behavior therapist, social worker, symbolic parental figure and friend in order to provide students what they need. Yes students come to school to learn, but there are often non-school related issues that are students face which impede the learning process and teachers are often at the forefront to combat these issues. That’s just the job of being a teacher and there are lots of teachers like myself who do it with a smile, but over time like any good soldier fighting a battle, you inevitably get worn down. Students today are in more need than they have ever been before, research has even identified an influx in the number of children born with disabilities, not to mention those born in poverty and single parent or divorced families. Not to mention state regulation and policies, which produce and promote unnecessary mounds of paperwork, poor staff development training, inadequate student assessments, unfair distribution of resources and ONE test on which to grade and evaluate schools and its teachers! These are not excuses but realities that all play a part.
Just like in any profession, there are those who are simply there to collect a paycheck, but I believe that the majority of teachers truly love teaching and working with children. Just like our students we face many challenges and hurdles that we have to overcome. We do not simply walk into the classroom in the morning take roll and walk out when the school day is over. Lots of teachers come in way before school starts and stay soon after it lets out. We work on the weekends and spend summers in teacher workshops or college courses. Despite the “bad rap” and lack of respect that we are shown as professionals we remain determined to provide the best education we possibly can to our students. We want reform too, but we want true reform that is going to look at all the angles and variables that play a part in shaping the learning and development of students. Simply getting rid of teachers is not the answer and if it is, then we all have a lot to learn.
Can't wait to see what answers await in the movie "Waiting for Superman"!
The Movie "waiting for Superman" will surely , drive the kinds of reform we need in our public school systems. The answers are not in the movie, but as most would agree, "it is going to be a wake up call" unfortunately it isthe fourth quarter and we are down several points, but the game is not over. President Kennedy's call to put a man on the moon in 10 years and the sputnik race drove americans to be the best we can be. Reform is on its way.
Waiting For Superman is the sequel for America at Risk that was published in the 80's. Each generation, fortunately, has a beckon call to the education profession to "pay attention," and get it right. The movie trailer suggests that we have children who have been left out of the educational opportunities available to all in our American system. But, remember, the focus here is for the Charter school matriculation. Charter schools have been a blessing to the education system because they provide some competition. But, there are thousands of public schools throughout the United States that do an incredible job in educating our youth. Problem is, and always has been, that the inner city schools are havens for crime, inadequate statistics for competency and high school graduation, and little incentive for the impoverished to pull themselves up to higher economic levels. The movie Stand By Me was a huge success because it took a dedicated teacher who motivated very capable students to achieve what they did not think was possible. Inner city schools are dependent on Charter Schools as indicated in the Superman movie,and maybe that is the way to approach the dilemma, but when society does not value education in the same way they value a winning franchise sports team, the struggle to provide an equitable education for all is dim. However, suffice it to say, there are so many thousands of dedicated teachers each day throughout the United States who get down in the trenches and get bloodied just so they can help one or more students rise to the top. Maybe if our administrators and parents gave more credence to what teachers actually do and attempt to do, our system would be more fluid and certainly more productive.
Thanks for the explanations of the three movies that all point to the possibilities of education reform. You are right on the mark with the need for society to view EDUCATION as IMPORTANT. The disparity between salaries of sports players and teachers speaks volumes in showing where Americans' priorities are focused. Sports heroes are touted daily, but what about our teacher heroes? How often do they make the news? We have so many more teacher heroes than sports heroes, yet their names remain unknown.
Amen Sister! My sentiments exactly. I saw the film, "Waiting for Superman," and found it to be extremely bias against teachers and unions. The film is full of unchecked facts, mistruths and distorted data. They don’t even cite their sources!
There are buzzards waiting for the system to be destroyed so that they can open up the "free market" of education to corporations hoping to make a profit. These same people believe that government should get out of the business of education, yet you can bet their hands will be open to collect government money to subsidize their charter school businesses. I say we let them "deregulate" education and say, "Sorry, government is getting out of the business of education altogether.”
I look forward to viewing the movie "Waiting for Superman" to see if it sheds light on effective methods to improve education. One pet peeve of mine in regards to education is that America tries to educate the masses in much the same way. No other country attempts to put all students in a box like we Americans. Educators agree that children have different learning styles and needs, yet we continue to put all of the same age children together and develop a curriculum we deem age-appropriate. That model is not working! I'm not sure money, such as the $100 million given Newark by the Facebook philanthropist, is the answer. Certainly, money helps, but educational reform needs much more than money.
I'm with you Lynne. Education reform takes a lot more than money. To me (and I do not pretend to be an expert) the issue will never see real change unless it happens on a national level. We've had pockets - moments of reform where schools give birth to new ideas, new approaches and some of them may work great but these small moments of reform can't get any legs in the face of a national system that is so deeply entrenched. I think real reform is only going to get real legs if it happens somehow on a national level. We can't even have a single school in a county decide to change the TIME of DAY that it meets because its sports programs, busing and child care are all so deeply intertwined with surrounding schools and THEIR times. If we can't change the time of school hours, how can we be expected to make any dramatic changes in pedagogy?
We have national AP exams, national SAT tests, we have national standards and a national protestant work ethic and herding mentality that are ingrained in the foundation of the daily business of school. Real education reform is going to require a national commitment to real change. I don't mean looking to the Federal gov't for the structure but rather some sort of team work between schools across cities, counties and states.
Is such a movement possible?
I think it's already started. The largest school in the world today is single person's youtube channel (The Khan Academy.) I believe it will inspire more people to begin crafting online courseware. I'm approaching the problem from a different angle. I'm interested in building significant roles for children in civics. I feel education suffers from being too abstract. I want to find ways to give children a sense of accomplishment. An awareness of their value to their communities, and each other, by creating useful roles for them. I feel teaching them would be far easier and faster if they have an immediate use for what they are learning. I want to make our world more visible to them, to leave them with a better understanding of our economy than most adults have now.
I believe economics and civics are the best frameworks for organizing primary education. We are economic creatures. We interact with each other mostly in economic terms, most of the choices we face are economic in nature. We suffer most from being ineffective economically and civically. I think primary school education should be mostly about fulfilling a natural role that children seem to have in civics, by simply being our future. I want to make them more aware of why they're being taught, what value each piece of information has, what exactly the community they are a part of actually is. I want them to be trained to be ontologists and economists. I see their natural role as custodians of all civic knowledge--that is what we are handing them, what they are being prepared to take charge of. I don't think of it as education, but as preparing each child to wisely lead the nation.
I think there is a way to turn education on its head. To empower them to learn, almost teaching themselves, and using teachers mostly for guidance and reference instruction. The fact that kids will spend hours teaching themselves the skills and knowledge necessary to progress in sophisticated games proves there's a way to do it. We just need to find the interface that compels them. To put their real lives into the context that leaves them just as eager to reach the next level.