I had the opportunity to watch “Waiting for Superman” last week, and as promised, the movie exposes many flaws in our educational system and discouraging statistics about student performance. The U.S. currently ranks 23rd out of 29 of the top world economies in graduation rates. The movie portrays failures in administration, teaching, and attitudes. It portrays “drop out factories,” or high schools with inordinately high percentages of high school drop outs.
It also exposes motivation and eagerness on the part of some students, the qualities that as a nation we need to recognize and encourage. The movie follows five students who are eager to learn, want to get a good education, and are encouraged by their parents to do so. All five resided in inner cities, in failing neighborhoods with failing schools, and all five wanted something better. However, to get a better education, to get into a charter school, the five participated in lotteries sometimes with roulette wheels determining their futures. Initially, one of the five was accepted, and later a second was admitted from a waiting list. Can we do no better than roulette as our investment in our future as a country?
The title begs viewers to wonder if there’s Superman waiting in the sky to save us…or do we have to save ourselves? This movie is galvanizing a grass-roots campaign, encouraging volunteers to take action to make a difference. To get involved, viewers are invited to text 7177.
Independently, Bookshare fans who want to make a difference can take action in their communities without even seeing the movie. First, ask yourselves if some students may be dropping out because they can’t read print, perhaps due to learning disabilities like dyslexia. If you think there may be even one, then take the part of Superman and commit to telling 5 parents, teachers, administrators, and/or friends about Bookshare. Too many today don’t know that there’s another way to read that helps students who can’t access print. If your efforts rescue just one student, giving the student the ability to read with digital accessible books, and your efforts are multiplied by thousands like you, you will know what it’s like to be Superman and you will have helped many students experience the benefits of reading.
Before ending, I want to acknowledge the many, many good teachers and administrators. I want to congratulate and thank them, and apologize if their reputation is in anyway marred by those who aren’t as good. Good teachers, we encourage you to lead the way, to introduce digital accessible books into your classrooms, and to continue to exemplify innovative teaching practices that may “save” some students.
Can you tell five others? Will this post find lots of Supermen? Please let us know with a comment.
Waiting for Superman seems like an infomercial for charter schools. I think it is about as accurate and believable as most infomercials.