For a very short time when I was a child I actually thought Superman was faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and could leap tall buildings in a single bound. I soon learned that it was all fiction, and if I looked hard enough I could actually see the wires that carried Superman through the air. As a former public school educator I have seen many “new” ideas for teaching our children come and go, and then come again with a new name. Some of them were very helpful, but in some instances I could see the wires that dangled the ideas-sometimes they were dangled with sewing thread.
The documentary Waiting for Superman will tell us what we already know, our public schools are in a mess. I’ve heard some of the comments that lay the blame on teachers, parents and administrators even the students. All of these things together are the problem.
The experts will undoubtedly tell you how they would fix our public schools. They will tell you how they stay all day and all night with the students until they can “get it”. They will tell you how they pick them up in the morning, take them home at night, feed them, and babysit their children and/or their siblings-until the “get it”. Most public schools have done all of that and it does help, but it is not the solution. It tends to bring on other problems. Where are the children of the educators during these times, who will make sure they are getting what they need?
The experts will point to wonderful charter and/or private schools that use the lottery system to gain admittance. You will see the children and the parents eagerly waiting to hear their number called. At the school you will see the students coming to class, trying their best. You will see their parents attending meetings, encouraging their children to do their best. In most public schools the PTA/PTO has a membership of less than 20% of parents. The trouble makers in school will not be at the charter and or private institutions, they have been sent back to their home school where they are disrupting class again.
When we stop putting the blame on each other and start from scratch, then we can start to fix our public schools. We need teachers who were called to teach, not those who couldn’t find anything else to do. We need administrators to teach a class at least one semester each year and not the AP or honors classes. They will then see some of the problems up close and personal. We need parents to be parents and stop making excuses. There have always been one parent families. Finally we need to show our students that life is not always fair. We give them too many crutches, too many excuses. We pay them for grades. We even reward them with cars for coming to school.
I know that Superman is not faster than a 9mm or stronger that a 747, and he can’t leap the tallest building in Dubai, but I know that name calling and finger pointing only gets more of the same. If we don’t fix our public schools, then we will be like Lois Lane falling only this time she will be holding a vile of kryptonite, and Superman will be held up by a piece of thread.