4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Waiting For Superman [DVD] (DVD)This is an important documentary, because most of the issues raised in it are common to education throughout the Western World and beyond.
The film highlights the failings of a vast system, starting with the many thousands of `drop out factories' - schools where less than 40% of students manage to graduate with a high school diploma.
Millions of students pass through these schools every year, are utterly failed by the system, and have their prospects pretty much eradicated.
Now a sensible response to this is to note that it's not easy to teach kids in really troubled catchment zones - try disciplining a child that's accustomed to getting beaten at home, or whose parents are junkies. Which is why the movie then moves to the charter schools who have been set up in the some of the worst area's in the country and are able to send 90%+ of their enrolment to 4 year colleges.
Waiting for Superman does make the point that only a minority of Charter schools can achieve these results, and also has important points about the impact of tracking on good middle class schools, but I feel that all this is just setting up the real issue, and one that is common across the Western World - that the education system has been captured by the teachers unions and bureaucrats, who make it impossible to reward a good teacher or fire a bad one, and that all those crappy teachers (who we've all encountered) stay in education failing to teach anything to kids, year after year for decades. The kids are stuck with the local school unless their parents have the money to opt out, even though the parents were failed by the same school a generation earlier. The teachers unions talk loudly about doing the best for kids, but block any attempt at reform - even an effort to pay Washington DC teachers over $100,000 a year for those that opt to go without tenure and with performance evaluation.
The pace of the movie is pretty good, and some of the interviews they get are great. I really liked how they cut to the nub of various issues pretty quickly, and to my mind gave a pretty fair assessment of a complicated system. I happened to watch it with the missus, and it gave us loads to talk about and a few things to mull over for the future. Plus it is great to see the rewards of those brave souls who broke out of the system, and are doing the most amazing job of teaching in the toughest areas.
On the other hand this is an explicit effort to raise a banner for change in US education, and if you (like me) don't live in the US, that falls fairly flat, though as I say if your local comprehensive is an inner city sink school, it should all sound pretty familiar.
Is it really fair to paint the problems of educating a country in such stark terms? Well watch it for yourself & see what you think of the case they've made. But it doesn't take a genius to notice that there's gonna be problems with any enterprise that makes it impossible to reward the capable or get rid of the inept. And if the enterprise doesn't have to compete for clients, there's damn little incentive to ramp up to best practice.
So yea, this is a movie that holds plenty of interest here in the UK and is well worth taking a look.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 May 2011 17:20:53 BDT
Mr. T. B. A. Jewell says:
I never would usually watch a documentary, i'm not exactly the intellectual type, but your review is so well written and really shows the merits of the film that i had to watch, que download :)
Thanks. pls review all films from now on!!!!
Posted on 22 May 2011 09:05:59 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 22 May 2011 10:14:31 BDT]
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