The Great Connections Seminar

The Great Connections Seminar
Discussing ethics

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Waiting for Superman

I recently saw the movie "Waiting for Superman" about public education.  It's by Davis Guggenheim, director of "An Inconvenient Truth." Consequently, you'll understand that it's quite artfully done, and it's loaded with information. 

Families desperate to get their children into lottery-selected charter schools scream and cry - when they win a place, or lose. It's pathetic and depressing. The message is powerful: children in public schools are being robbed of a good education by the system. The New York Public schools, the DC Schools, the Milwaukee schools, and the teachers' unions are featured.

Although not strident, the director seems to lay the blame on teachers' unions. And it's astonishing to hear that the DC union leadership did not even allow the members to vote on maverick DC Superintendent (recently resigned) Michelle Rhee's proposal to give merit pay. I'm surprised the membership didn't rebel - but then, what does that say?

However, I'm of two minds about this movie: the movie won a Sundance Film Festival award, and, apparently, the New York Times , theWashington Post, and other mainstream media outlets have taken an interest in it - unlike other worthy film attempts on the same topic, such "The Cartel." It's getting the problem to the attention of more people.

But the director makes NO MENTION WHATSOEVER of the school choice movement, i.e. vouchers or credits allowing students to go to private school. 

This, while Guggenheim admits at the beginning of the movie that his own kids attend private school

This, while he interviews the superintendent of the Milwaukee schools, which have a very successful voucher program!

This, while ignoring the successful voucher program in DC!

Within the world of his movie, it's public schools or charter schools for those who can't afford an alternative.

He can't be that ignorant. So why is he ignoring school choice? "Don't bother to examine a folly, ask yourself what it accomplishes."


Rob Ross said...

What does it accomplish? Why do you think he didn't mention school choice?

Marsha Familaro Enright said...

Silence on a topic is a favorite strategy against ideas or practices which are disapproved of by certain intellectuals and their entourage.

Many collectivists believe we must keep public education often for the usual rationale: otherwise, how would "the masses" learn anything? (They aren't very knowledgeable about the history of the U.S. and the high rate of literacy and numeracy which existed here without any public education).

They are very suspicious of capitalism and any market-based solutions.

So don't mention them!