Tuesday, October 5, 2010

"Waiting for Superman" - NEA Response

"Waiting for Superman", the movie, examines the state of education. It is being shown at a special invitation only screening at the Main Art Theater in Royal Oak tonight. It will open to the general public on Friday.

The National Education Association’s reaction to the Film -

Who: This film was made by “Inconvenient Truth” producer Davis Guggenheim. It features footage of NEA President Dennis Van Roekel from NEA’s Representative Assembly, as well as extensive interviews with AFT President Randi Weingarten.

Why: Guggenheim says he made “Waiting for Superman” to encourage the same level of national discourse on public education that “An Inconvenient Truth” generated on climate change. NEA and its state and local affiliates welcome others to the same discussion we’ve been having for years. In an effort to encourage a more thoughtful and thorough discussion, Association leaders have agreed to participate in panel discussions following film screenings.

Thoughts and General Comments from the NEA: ( I will paraphrase the entire report. )
The NEA contends that the film over simplifies complex issues. It lacks depth and factual, research-based analysis. It has also missed the opportunity to shed light on the good that is happening in our public schools. Waiting for Superman says important things about the challenges of public education, but it over simplifieses complicated issues by saying “charters are good” and “teachers unions are bad”. It lumps all schools together. ALL SCHOOLS are NOT the same. Public education is a shared responsibility, but this film is divisive rather than collaborative.

The film glosses over the negative effects of the Bush-era reforms (NCLB), ignoring the impact on students with disabilities and any negative effects of the testing mania. It promotes charter schools as the “silver bullet” to improve public education, even as it admits that only one charter school in five is more effective than a traditional public school.

The NEA says “Waiting for Superman” has SUPER MYTHS:

Super Myth #1: Teacher unions are “bad”, but teachers are “good”. Teacher unions are made up of members who are educators and the film doesn’t interview any superintendents that have a collaborative relationship with their union.

Super Myth #2: Charter Schools are a magic, silver bullet solution. Charter schools are one solution, but schools across the country are benefitting from a range of exciting, new ideas. Rick Hess, education commentator, American Enterprise Institute says, “These flicks accelerate the troubling trend of turning every good idea into a moral crusade, so that retooling K-12 becomes a question of moral rectitude in which we choose sides and “reformers” are supposed to smother questions about policy or practice. They also wildly romanticize charters, charter school teachers, and the kids and families, making it harder to speak honestly or bluntly.”

To read the NEA’s entire reaction to the film, CLICK HERE: