When I first saw these two film trailers I was very excited about both of them. I recommended them in my newsletter, on my web site, on the Food and Culture web site, and on this blog. Like many people I am passionate about education and about what is best for students, teachers, parents, and society.
Recently I became aware of some rather hostile reactions to this movie trailer and the film; one was a blog post written by an individual, another was an announcement by an organization, Rethinking Schools. They are launching a major campaign against the film; the name of their campaign is "NOT Waiting for Superman". Rethinking Schools editor, Stan Karp, had the opportunity to view the film prior to its release to the general public, and so he does have a remarkable advantage over me - I have only seen the trailer.
The critics are claiming the the film is about the bashing of public schools and teachers, that it is anti-union, and that it is supporting privitization of education, charter school and increased testing. Mr. Karp's interpretation is that the film accuses educators of just "waiting for Superman" to come and fix things instead of working toward excellence.
I am anxious to see the whole film, because I would agree with Mr. Karp that educators should not be bashed or accused of doing nothing. However, I do believe that there are many teachers in the classrooms and principals on campuses who should be working in some other field than education. And I do believe that our schools are failing our children and our society. But the so-called "reforms" that have been put into place during the past ten years are completely wrong; and I will agree with Mr. Karp that these "reforms" are NOT based upon what we know about how children develop, about how learning happens and about what teaching is. The problem is not all the teachers and principals, it is the system which has been created by policy makers who really do not know what they are doing. I believe they have good intentions, but their actions are wrong, and they have destroyed our educational system. "Education" and "teaching" have been replaced with testing and measuring.
I know of no other way to describe some of these reforms other than "insane" and "cruel"; for example, one school district is implementing a new policy this year. They have decided that it's time for their 4-year-olds to "hit the books" harder! They will now be in class for 8 hours a day - with no nap - and only one 20-minute recess! See the article, No Naps for These Kids.
I have a slightly different perspective on the issue of charter schools, and I will be sharing those thoughts in this blog.