This has been whirlwind week for education reform. "Superman" is finally here. It will be the topic of the Oprah show today, and I'm told there are some big surprises coming for a group of great charter schools. Time magazine devoted a cover to this issue last week, and last Wednesday night I went to the Washington, D.C. premier of “Waiting for Superman,” a new documentary about some of the major challenges facing America’s education system. It was like Hollywood on the Potomac. All of D.C.’s beautiful people came together with the education wonks and official Washington, and we were all talking about how to make our schools better. It was a moment I’ve been waiting for a long time.
It is a tremendous time in education reform when an acclaimed advocacy filmmaker (An Inconvenient Truth’s Davis Guggenheim) takes on the crisis in education and the tangle of policy challenges we face every day. The result is an unprecedented opportunity for a true national discourse on reform. The film has rightfully attracted interest and attention from all areas of education and I’m happy, because it means many who have been talking about education policy around private conference tables have come together to speak now around a bigger and more public table.
For years, folks on all sides of this issue have debated the best and most effective ways to fix public education. In fact, there are so many different ideas about what to do fix first, there is sometimes a paralysis of indecision. However, “Waiting for Superman” reminds us that it is simpler than we think. If you back away from the nuances of policy far enough to look at the children who are really the focus of this work, it becomes a lot clearer. If we can all remember to put children first and make decisions based on what is best for them, we’ll find that we agree on more than we think. In fact, I bet we agree on more than we don’t.
The door opened by this film brings the conversations to the widest and most influential group, the public, and that is as it should be. Public education is, after all, a public trust. If we’re going to achieve the long-term, systemic change that public education needs, we’ve got to use this opportunity to make sure the people in every community understand and engage on this issue and build the highest quality public school system this country has ever seen.
Submitted by mrs t on Tue, 09/21/2010 - 12:22am.
I cannot wait for this documentary. I work at a new (4th year) inner city charter and our entire staff is going to watch it together. I am currently reading "Whatever it takes" about the founder of the Harlem Childrens Zone schools. It is so inspiring to read/learn about what other schools are doing right, especially when all we hear are negative things and criticism about education