How To Fix Our Schools

I’m not one to spend time commenting on something as innocuous as a movie, but I just finished watching something that was both compelling and surprising.

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary “Waiting For Superman” had my attention for the entire 111 minutes, and I learned some important things about the successes of some alternative charter schools, the bureaucratic nightmares that have impeded some schools from succeeding, and most importantly the devastating stranglehold that the teacher’s unions exert in ensuring that teachers are as demotivated as possible.  The story of the attempts by the District of Columbia school district to partner with the teacher’s union to create a pathway to success is scandalous, and clearly ensures that failing teachers never have to be held accountable.

I get why unions came to exist, and I get the fact that some unions may actually still create value in some situations. However, I think we are far past seeing any value in government and education unions.  Watching the president of the American Federation of Teachers extoll the priority of the children and yet support the use of tenure to protect intentionally negligent teachers from being fired is just one more example of how union bosses are more interested in money and power than the supposed goals of their organizations.

It was encouraging to follow the stories of several families across the country where the children were motivated to succeed but faced challenges in affording a better education that is available in public schools.  The stories were heartbreaking.


Although Superman is clearly not going to be the savior of our education system, the background of Geoffrey Canada and the work he is doing with Harlem Children’s Zone, along with the work of the KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) schools across the country.

Spending more money on public schools just doesn’t seem like the right priority to solve our diminishing education issues… and I am not convinced No Child Left Behind is helping.  Dealing head on with the unions and giving administrators the power to hold teachers accountable is our best hope for making our public schools viable again.

I heartily recommend “Waiting For Superman”.  I downloaded it on iTunes, and it should be available through most DVD outlets.  You can also get more information at www.waitingforsuperman.com.


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