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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Waiting for Superman - Predictions how it will change perceptions of charter schools?

Waiting for Superman - Predictions how it will change perceptions of charter schools?

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Filmmaker, Davis Guggenheim, Director of "The Inconvenient Truth," premiered his documentary film on the American education system, "Waiting for Superman" at Sundance this year. I'm told the film will be released to the public in the fall. :: Check out the Sundance review of the film. :: Watch a trailor for the film :: Here's also a couple of blogs on the film by educators: http://bit.ly/9LO12v and http://bit.ly/amnjwo ad http://bit.ly/9sq9Em. Let's use this space to share your thoughts about the film. Do you think it'll hurt or help the charter movement?

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Chad Sansing's picture
Chad Sansing
Charter school humanities teacher for non-traditional middle grade learners

Awesome topic, Elana - thank you.

"Waiting for Superman" and "The Lottery" ought to spark conversation. I hope I can get an #edchat or two dedicated to them and to charter schools and their variation in purpose, enrollment, and governance from state to state and program to program.

I just read "Why We Must Oppose Charter Schools" on Black Star News. I think this article does a great job of confronting our school system and its systematic ills. Essentially, Malik Green reminds us that charters divide communities and distract them from demanding real, sustained change in public education.

I think the short term conversations coming out of the theaters will be about charter caps and whether or not charter schools are any better than traditional public schools. I think these films will grow public awareness of charters and the issues they present, but I don't know that they'll shape new points of view. I think it's likely that more people will join the pro- and anti-charter camps.

However, I do believe that in the long term the films will spark a conversation like the one Green calls for about fixing broken schools and a broken school system. Charter schools won't reach every kid. Charter schools have flaws just like traditional public schools. Moreover, school choice between "good" and "bad" is not the same as school choice between several viable options for an authentic and personally meaningful education.

I hope we start talking about how to restructure public education so that it matters to out students and the problems facing their communities, our country, and the world. I was heartened tonight to read about the launch of a charter school dedicated to STEM studies in renewable energy. How does this become the new norm? How do public schools serve the public good, kids first?

We'll could be waiting for Superman for a long time. But that would be a mistake. No alien wunderkind is going to crash-land into public education with all the superpowers needed to police it.

It will take humans tackling messy, human problems to remake education into something more worthwhile to us all. It'll take educators, parents, and students talking together about what they want. It will take politicians who listen to them. It will take time, patience, love, and forgiveness.

The sooner we get those things back into school, the better.

I look forward to watching the films; I'll post again once I've seen them.

All the best,

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