Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Are You Sure It's Superman You're Looking For?

By now you've probably heard about the movie titled Waiting For Superman. Even if you hadn't heard of it, wonderful Oprah shared it on her show. To say that I couldn't watch her grandstanding is an understatement. I saw ten minutes and that was enough for me to see where she was going and I didn't like it. You see, not even a decade ago, Oprah had a show dedicated to giving teachers, the backbone of this nation and ever so hardworking, a ton of free stuff. Now, we're not so high on her list of awesome people. But Bill Gates is! Hooray for Bill Gates. He helped out with this movie. Hooray for billionaires expressing their insanely important views to us lowly peasants.

Let's start out with my first problem, and the basis for my blog handle, the title of this film is "Waiting For Superman." Superman, huh? Let's think about Superman for a second. Faster than a speeding bullet! Able to leap small buildings in a single bound. He's from another planet and his powers are enhanced by our yellow sun. Isn't he magical? As you've guessed, I'm not Superman. Don't get me wrong, Superman can be a helpful guy. He saves people falling from buildings and catches planes before they crash into the ground. Here's the thing with Superman; he saves you when you're near death and then you never see him again. I mean, unless you're Lois Lane, you're pretty much off of his mental radar after he swoops in to save you. What if you're suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following your near death incident? What if you've suffered several injuries prior to the rescue? Is Superman there? Does he care? Well, you're not Lois Lane, so he doesn't. He's gone. He came in suddenly and disappeared just as fast. Hey, I already mentioned that he's faster than a speeding bullet!

Teaching isn't for heroes. Heroes like Superman won't do anything for the kids who are failing in our classrooms. I can't come into the classroom and rescue them in one day and then leave them. That's what our wonderful Mr. Gates and Ms. Winfrey are there to do. They'll sweep into the classroom with money and rescue a few hand selected children. Nevermind that they may be battered and bruised, physically or emotionally, from their past. Nevermind that they may be suffering daily from whatever they needed to be rescued from. They'll be paraded around as the rescued children and then left in the dust. Superman will move on. The next crisis must be attended to! But these children? These children are still here. They are still struggling. They will never go away.

Money is great. Money is wonderful. Money is NOT the only issue in schools today. Grants and donations from the billionaires of our nation would be a Band-Aid on the broken dam of our education. No, the problem started long ago. These children were failed long before they walked through my classroom door. Sometimes their parents failed them. Sometimes society failed their parents. Sometimes? Sometimes the pressure to pass Pass PASS all of your elementary and middle school students failed them. These kids aren't going to be saved in a day. They aren't going to be saved in a week. They aren't going to be saved in an entire year. And it won't take only me to save them. I only see them five times a week for a little more than an hour for the total of a year. It's going to take everyone in their lives. It's going to take some reforms. It's going to take some parental involvement. And it's not going to happen in the blink of an eye. We just have to be sure not to rush off to the next rescue before they're set, and we need to give them the tools to stay out of danger in the fture.

1 comment:

  1. Hear, hear. This is precisely why I think we need to focus our resources on bolstering pre-primary education and why I would go so far as to support targeted intervention from birth onwards (what's the name of that survey...) in at-risk communities. It's beyond ridiculous to put these kids through a system that can't make up for disadvantaged backgrounds or poor/inadequate teaching earlier on in their lives and then hope that magically teachers are going to fix it later on. And then hold teachers "accountable" for "poor test scores" when really, any small gains should be cause for celebration because they defy the odds. We have a screwy system, that's for sure.

    - Maya

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