9.25.2010

Why are we waiting for a "superman" to save our schools?

There has been much discussion about the discussions about the film Waiting for Superman. Since it won't be released in Louisville until October 22 (tentatively at Baxter Ave. Theaters btw), most of what we as a community end up discussing are all the reviews written about the film, some positive, some certainly not so positive, or discussion about Monday and Friday's Oprah show where she discussed the film (fortunately those audience members were able to see the movie so they had a greater context for the conversation created on the show). In fact, one of my Mom Congress friends, Stacey Kannenberg, was able to attend the Thursday evening viewing of the show as well as be in the audience on Friday for the discussion...which wasn't actually a discussion that included the parents and teachers in the audience, but one where Dept. of Ed. Arne Duncan was spoken to via telecom, and the founder of facebook announced his pledge of $100 million to the Trenton NJ schools. The Gov. of New Jeresy (Christie) who has faced much criticism in his state about his approach to education and the Mayor of Trenton (and full disclosure on Ms. Winfrey's part one of her bffs) Booker also spoke about public education and the foundation created with Mr. Facebook (who has been criticized about the timing of the announcement as the fictional film about Facebook, which is somewhat not so flattering, has just been released).

Go to facebook as well. There are sites for Waiting for Superman and a site titled NOT Waiting for Superman. There are three other films also being released, The Lottery (about Charter schools), Race To Nowhere, and The Cartel. Here is a blog from the Washington post about, perhaps, what these movies hope to achieve in the course of public discourse and conversation:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/guest-bloggers/season-of-the-education-film-d.html

One can also, on facebook, Like Education Nation (an NBC event), or not like it as many posts seem to state. Education Nation is being supported by the PTA, and Byron Garrett (CEO of National PTA) is scheduled as a participant. Yet many feel, rightfully so, that parents and teachers, those on the front lines, were left out of the summit. Certainly Education Nation is including parents (Gwen Samuel, my Mom Congress colleague from CT will be there) and teachers, but again, discussion ensues about who was picked and why. Even our own local Momslikeme forum has gotten into the mix, especially since last year's test scores were released for the state, and they were not good for the majority of schools in Jefferson County. However, the numbers were released but without interpretation or analysis, so reaction is just to the data...which wasn't pretty.

In fact, a lot of discussion seems to be taking place...but no action. It seems like everyone is waiting for a superman, or superwoman, to save the day. Yet few are willing to BE that superperson to champion a cause. Or, people tend to criticize those in the trenches because they aren't doing enough, or didn't do this, or that, in this or that way. So we fall into a habit or pattern of thinking that "someone else will do it." Well, that someone has to be...you, and me, and our next door neighboor, and our children's teachers, our school administrators, our community. Part of the biggest frustration we all seem to have is the level of disconnect that seems to exist within our community (specific to Louisville) or our national community. That the current system is in trouble is not new. But it appears for the first time in a long time, that enough is enough.

I encourage everyone to see Waiting for Superman so a genuine conversation about how we educate the children in Louisville, KY, can take place. Without pointing fingers at each other, but asking each other questions such as, what can I do to support, to make change, to help? Certainly "be the change you wish to see" holds true. But no one person is more important than another in the dialogue. And everyone MUST be included in the conversation. Students and parents. We are the front lines. We are the ones impacted by the decisions made at the National level, at the State level, at the local level. Yet we are often an afterthought in the conversation. A, oh yeah, parents want to know what is happening. Let's get a few to sit on a committee...a committee that has met monthly without parents included. Thankfully this is changing...but it will still take time.

So, we need to stop discussing about the discussion. We need to start a discussion of our own. Isn't every parent a child's first super hero? Let's start living up to that responsibility. Today.

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