The Future Of American Education

?? - posted on 09/24/2010 ( 4 moms have responded )




Another Oprah story from me...

Waiting For Superman ( ) is a new documenary "about the state of public school systems in America, told through the eyes of five hopeful students. Each is eager to get an education, but in a system riddled with ineffective teachers, staggering dropout rates and schools that are literally falling apart, the odds are more than stacked against them."

The show on Monday led to many responses from viewers. Saying everything from they had no idea it was that bad, to blaming teachers, unions and parents. But everyone, in their own personal way, was fired up.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says the film Waiting For "Superman" reminds him of a "Rosa Parks moment."

"When the country looked at Rosa Parks and looked in her eyes and saw her tremendous dignity and saw her humanity, the country was compelled to act," he says. "When you look at the eyes of Anthony and Daisy and the other children in this movie and their parents and their quiet desperation and how much they want a great education and how they know they may be denied that opportunity, it compels all of us to act with a huge sense of urgency. You cannot watch this movie and stay on the sidelines."

Secretary Duncan says education is the key to a better economy. "We used to lead the world in college graduates. Today, we're ninth," he says. "We have to drive reform."

"I would like to say to everybody who thinks, 'My kids are doing okay': This is your country," Oprah says. "When other kids in your country aren't doing okay, eventually your country won't do okay."

Oprah spoke with Bill Gates on her show on monday, today she was talking to Mayer of Newark, Cory Booker.

Many parents want a great education for their kids, Mayor Booker says, but it's not always in their control. "We should not live in a country anymore where your destiny is determined by how much money you have in your pocket, by what zip code you were born in or by the pick of a [lottery] ball," he says.

For months, Mayor Booker has been working with Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to put politics aside and help turn around the failing schools in Newark.

"What I'm committing to is changing the schools in the city where I was born and spent the first years of my life," Gov. Christie says. "Mayor Booker is going to be the point person, our lead guy in Newark in helping to develop this entirely new plan of how to reform the education system in Newark and create a national model. I'm in charge of the public schools in the city of Newark as governor, and I'm going to empower Mayor Booker to develop that plan and to implement it with a superintendent of schools that we are going to pick together."

For his part, Mark is investing in these leaders to initiate change. "I've committed to starting the Startup Education Foundation, whose first project will be [to set up] a $100 million challenge grant [for Newark]," he says. "Every child deserves an education, and right now that's not happening."

Mark says he chose Newark because he believes that Mayor Booker and Gov. Christie can deliver on their promises. "Running a company, the main thing that I have to do is find people who are going to be really great leaders and invest in them," he says. With this grant, Mark hopes that his partners in this project will have the flexibility they need to implement new programs and turn Newark into a symbol of educational excellence for the whole nation.

Now that this partnership is in place, Mayor Booker says the next step is to get the people of Newark involved. "Nobody gets a pass. We need to take leadership from parents, from teachers and from students themselves," he says.

Though a plan hasn't yet been formulated for exactly how the millions will be used, the three critical focuses must be to support teachers, design systems of accountability and support schools of excellence, Mayor Booker says.

Another challenge will be to restore hope to the children of Newark, Gov. Christie says. "What's going on in a place like Newark is we have violence and we have drug use," he says. "Children don't believe tomorrow can be better than today because we've robbed from them their education."

Mark Zuckerberg also wanted it noted that he initially wanted his participation in this plan to be anonymous. With Oprah, the Mayor and Governor's assistance, he agreed to come on the show and not be anonymous with his addition to this plan.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan then said that he commends those 3 men for their work. He says that if Newark can succeed, the rest of America can succeed.

What do you think of all of this? I encourage you to read the links I posted - what I have posted are snippets of the whole story that shows the general picture of what was discussed, as well as some [minimal] of my own commentary of what I saw on the show.

Do you think that the parents, teachers or unions are to blame more so than any other aspect? Do you think it's as big of a problem as it seems to be, or bigger? Will you watch the documentary "Waiting For Superman" ? What are your thoughts on education in YOUR town?


Heather - posted on 09/25/2010




I think a huge part of the problem is the parents not pushing their children to take their education into their own hands. This documentary focuses on 3 students in an inner-city community, who's parents really want the "best" education for them. The film makes the "school lottery", teachers' unions, and the actual teachers out to be the bad guys. Yes, I think those things contribute to the problem, but they aren't the main cause.

A child that wants to learn and has parents that are willing to support them can be a great student. Unfortunately, those are not a majority in our country. The kids don't want to be in school and the parents don't care...but they're quick to blame the teachers when their student isn't doing well. These days, teachers aren't even given the opportunity to teach to the strengths of their class because there are students who don't know the material they were supposed to learn the year before. And we can't hold them back because that would look bad on the school system. It's a catch 22. I think if we started making kids choose either academics or work studies when they reach 7th or 8th grade we would start seeing great improvement in our "scores". Anywho, I'm done with my rant. Sorry all, this just gets me all fired up. God forbid we place any blame on parents or students(we being the filmmakers). ;P

Jessica - posted on 09/25/2010




I think the problem is EVERYONE has the mentality that it is someone else's job/fault. When people start taking not just personal but social responsibility as well, then things will start to get fixed up.

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ME - posted on 09/25/2010




This is a very broad social problem, no one group is to in the community I live in now is very poor, unless your children are intelligent enough to get into Honors/AP programs, then they do ok...I don't know why we don't use the AP model more widely; it is my feeling that we are underestimating the majority of our students at every level....

[deleted account]

I think there are many different aspects to blame for the state of our education.

But number 1: STOP basing everything on one standardized test each year!

Parents (not all) are part of the problem because learning should not stop at school. Many parents view school as a babysitting service.

Teachers (again, not all) are part of the problem. Teaching to the test, teaching to the middle and not challenging or helping those not in the middle, etc.

Principals (not all) are part of the problem. Not supporting teachers or being aware of what goes on in the classroom.

Lawmakers are part of the problem. Most don't have a stinkin' clue how a school or classroom should be run and pass laws that make the job harder.

I'll be honest. I didn't read the links. I'll do that and be back later.

In my town, education is highly valued. My town pulled out of the larger parish-wide school district for many reasons that will make this post way too long. Since then, we've been ranked number 1 in the state. Reasons: 1. High taxes to support schools which pay for state of the art classrooms, technology and supplies. 2. Highest paid teachers in the state. There is a low teacher turn over rate and when a teacher is lost, there are hundreds of more waiting to take her place. The school board can pick from the best. And we can pay for Master teachers, PhD's and Nationally Board Certified teachers. 3. Classes that cater to both above and below average students to challenge and help bring them up to level. 4. Principals that are in each classroom everyday observing and providing teachers with resources. 5. Trainings and workshops available (all the time) for teachers that they can get paid to go to. 6. Curriculum written by the teachers based on national standards AND what is important for our particular students. 7. Teaching the whole child, meaning keeping arts and athletics important and providing gifted students with tutors and classes. 8. Awesome community support. And probably a lot of other stuff.

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