October 5, 2010

Waiting for the other Superman

The RDW education reporter has arisen from a long posting hiatus to tackle the controversial documentary "Waiting for Superman." It should be noted that I have not yet seen the movie, I have been reading stories and watching various media coverage of the controversial film.

A quick synopsis of this film shows how the public school system is failing urban children. It portrays teachers' unions as a huge component in the failing schools as they make it extremely difficult to fire crappy teachers. The film blames teachers that just go through the motions and do little or nothing to promote high achievement and success. "Waiting for Superman" also chronicles some successful charter schools and their ability to graduate high-performing students.

All of the aspects mentioned above are quite accurate reasons as to why many urban public schools turn out low-performing students. However, the film and media talking heads seem to neglect one of the pink elephants in the room that was full of them. It seems to exonerate the parent(s) of the low-performing students. Somehow the kindergartener who begins her school career with the vocabulary and skill set of a 2 year old is being failed by the system? The sixth-grader who goes home every afternoon and never touches a textbook or anything remotely educational is a result of a flawed public school? The sophomore who decides he is not going to class more than twice a week reflects badly upon the teachers? Wrong on all accounts. Parents who instill no value in education, or in some cases dissuade their kids from appreciating their free knowledge, are the big problem. Perhaps they are the biggest problem.

Bill Gates, Davis Guggenheim, Oprah, Governor Chris Christie, Mayor Cory Booker, and all the other platitude spewing educational saviors, ask yourself this question. If we disolved all teachers' unions, eliminated tenure, fired all the lazy bricks that call themselves teachers, would you find a glut of successful college or career-bound high schoolers? The successful students have one or two things that the problem-students do not. Parents that care.

Don't get me wrong, I am ashamed of and embarrassed by WEAC, the NEA and their ilk. However, let's address all the problems before inciting a pedagogical holy war. Put the primary responsibility where it belongs, in the home.

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