Sunday, October 17, 2010

Read Betty Olson-Jones' Blog: Not Waiting for Superman

Blog By Betty Olson-Jones on Oakland Seen | Published October 13, 2010
With all the recent buzz about the new film “Waiting for Superman,” it’s no wonder many people continue to think that public education in America is in desperate shape and if we don’t do something we will not be able to compete economically around the world. That “something” called “school reform” usually consists of relying heavily on promoting publicly-financed but privately-run charters schools, judging teachers by student test scores, and bashing unions for a whole slew of wrongs including protecting “bad teachers” and refusing to budge on seniority. The fallacies in this approach have been refuted again and again, but they keep popping up.
Hmmm… could it have something to do with the fact that the self-proclaimed “reformers” have the ear of the Obama Administration, and are heavily financed by the “Billionaire Boys’ Club” (as described in Diane Ravitch’s excellent book The Death and Life of the Great American School System)? As an example, Schools Matter blog reported this week that Bill Gates has sunk $2 million over seven months into media publicity for the movie (“Bill Gates, the West Coast Promo Man”).
Before you’re tempted to jump on that bandwagon, be sure to check out the growing list of critiques popping up all over the country – from teachers and educators who are tired of being vilified and blamed for the very real problems that do plague public education. Rather than repeat what’s already being said eloquently, I want to use my space to share with you some of what’s out there:
1) Check out Rethinking Schools’ Not Waiting for Superman website
2) Sign up on Facebook to the Not Waiting For Superman page
3) Former Berkeley High Journalism teacher and current Adjunct Professor at USF Rick Ayers wrote a piece, “What ‘Superman’ Got Wrong, point by point”
4) By LouAnne Johnson, assistant professor of teacher education at Santa Fe Community College, a piece called “How to Save Schools Right Now: Let Teachers Teach
A sampling of the article: We don’t have to wait for Superman to save our public schools. We can save our schools ourselves. Right now. Without firing the teachers or disbanding their unions. Without creating more standardized tests. Without pitting schools against each other in a race for dollars which should rightfully be divided equally among the school-age children of this country. As with many complex problems, the answer is a simple one — so simple that it is overlooked. The answer can be stated in seven words that even a child could understand: Train teachers well — then let them teach.
I could go on, but this will give you plenty to think about. While you’re at it, ask yourselves why another film on education isn’t getting half the hype – “Race to Nowhere” presents a chilling portrayal of the damage being done to students by the excessive focus on testing, the pressure to get into the “best” colleges, and being so stressed and overscheduled that some students are resorting to suicide. I guess Bill Gates and his pals in the Billioinaire Boys’ Club aren’t interested in spending money to publicize that kind of truth. Be sure to check out this excellent film: