“Waiting for Superman” Commentary

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I will once it gets to Chicago. For my part, I like the pace and information in “The Cartel,” but you can’t have too many movies about the awful nature of Teachers Unions.

One commentary, by noted education writer and expert, Rick Hess, was a pretty snarky send up of the movie.

My comment on that post is below.

So WfS overstates the ease at which we can solve the problem. Does this mean it’s wrong in raising the issue of education failure and cost?

Is Randi Wiengarten’s (and all other union) obstructionism and justified? I think not.

If WfS serves a purpose, it lowers the level of public support for the existing system. This alone deserves praise and support. Let’s hope that the movie makers keep churning out things like WfS and The Cartel.

As for the ‘solution,’ one need go no further than look to the underlying concepts in your latest book, Rick. The answer is no ONE solution. This obvious fact should never be allowed to be an excuse for the status quo.

The supporters of the incumbent system, many of whom have posted here, no longer deserve the benefit of the doubt.

If the on-line Khan Academy can effectively educate 100s, 1000s, or 10s of 1000s of kids for very little money, then why should there be a single argument against THOSE hundreds of kids using that instrumentality. Can EVERYBODY be taught at the Khan Academy? No, but who cares.

I would argue that ANY law preventing children/families from using Khan (or anything like it) is immoral. The idea that some set of teaching or administrative job must be protected is a wholly discredited concept that belongs on the ash heap of history along with self-interested Tobacco studies.

Barriers against KIPP? Same thing. Money following the child instead of the useless concept called a “district.?” Same thing.

Rick, if your clever attack on WfS was intended to point out that the case for its preferred solution is overstated, then it hit the mark. If it is intended as a defense of the status quo, it is doing a disservice to society.

While there are elements of the existing system that deserve defense (good, conscientious teachers and administrative), the simple fact is that the SYSTEM deserves none. Whether designed or ‘evolved’ (as some earlier poster opined), it shouldn’t (and frankly can’t) be defended.

Decades of increased cash, with declining or flat results, have shown that the incumbent system is beyond reform.

While imperfect, charters, choice, tax credits, et. al. offer the opportunity to dismantle the existing system in a way that offers kids a better (NOT perfect) shot at a good education.

The Hippocratic oath says “first do no harm.” If we have an existing education system that is harming the children in it, (and we do) then we are violating the educational equivalent of such an oath by allowing it to continue harming them.

It is time to look all the financially interested parties in education in the eye and say “your interests are no longer primary or secondary. They are tertiary.” If WfS makes that more politically feasible, it’s a great movie.