You’re invited to join us at a showing of “Waiting for Superman” next Tuesday 10/12 in Palo Alto!
Some of the critical issues raised in the discussion of the film:
Are teacher’s unions and tenure the enemies of education reform?
- Or are Californians and others “getting what they pay for”? (Dennis Kelly, union rep, 48:49 min). “Unless we support our children… In SF, the average is $5000 per student, at another community in CA $22,000 per student, in New York State, the average is $15,000 per student.”
Are chartered schools the answer?
- The film lauds KIPP schools as successes.
Does poverty/wealth determine one’s educational destiny in this country today? If yes, is it because poor children can’t learn or because poor school districts can’t teach? (Lucia, 12 min)
Why are teacher’s paid solely based on years of experience? Do the current teacher evaluations reflect performance?
- “The number of credits beyond the BA that the teacher takes and the number of years of teaching experience” determine salary – needs rethinking; what about extended hours worked? what about student performance? (13:55 min, Kirst)
- Teachers “used to be self-selected the smartest women in this country” because these were the professions where women could work. Teacher pay schedule hasn’t changed since it was updated to ensure women got paid the same as men in 1924. Need to “professionalize teaching. Not treat teachers as if they were turning a bolt with a wrench” (17:30, Lucia)
Has No Child Left Behind failed? Are we using the right kind of tests to measure student performance?
- Nationally, and here in California, still failing on the mandated standardized tests. National tests show limited / no progress. However on the STAR tests in California, students and teachers are showing improvement in the last 10 years. That improvement does not appear on the national tests (is improvement real if it can only sometimes be measured?) (22 min)
Is the film accurate?
- Reilly says his school was mischaracterized in the film by a false read of a single datapoint and the failure of the filmmakers to actually visit his school. Apparently the movie that makes the point that even in the very wealthy town of Woodside, the graduation rate is low. Reilly says that the film based this on an inflated denominator, an over-count of incoming freshmen (based on the estimate of eligible children in the zipcode rather than the actual number of enrollees).
- A SF teacher writes in to say that “teachers are never asked what can be done to improve schools. Over half of teachers leave after 5 years, but no one asks why, no exit interviews are conducted. It’s as if no one really wants to know the answer.”
“I believe in public schools, I believe in the democracy of public schools, yet I have to send my children to a private school.” – David Guggenheim, filmaker of Waiting for Superman
- Bill Lucia, president and CEO of EdVoice, a nonprofit advocacy network to improve public schools
- David Reilly, principal of Woodside High (see Reilly’s response to “Waiting for Superman”)
- Dennis Kelly, president of United Educators of San Francisco and vice president of the American Federation of Teachers and the California Federation of Teachers
- Michael Kirst, professor emeritus of education and business administration at Stanford University and former president of the California State Board of Education, writes The College Success Blog