SUPERMAN IS FROM ANOTHER PLANET
you've heard about or seen the movie "Waiting for Superman," you know that
it portrays public schools as failures and charters as a panacea. The movie
oversimplifies and makes an emotional appeal for a false solution to a problem
The major challenges that many schools face, such as
student poverty and lots of missing basic resources, are not examined. And,
if you think the movie is
on the wrong track, try reading the book being issued to accompany it. Both
movie and book trot out the same old "money doesn't matter" argument, among
Public education is the foundation of our democracy, and the
fact is we know how to do it well. However, for many of our low-income children
and children of color, we do not provide a fair opportunity to learn. But many
problems can be solved by directing our efforts and resources towards expanding
the excellence found in many suburban public schools to urban and rural schools.
We Can't Wait for Superman
To offer another perspective on the movie, consider that:
Big Problems Need Big Solutions
We don't need Superman. We need "Super Systems" capable
of rescuing tens of thousands of young people each year.
Charters are an Inadequate Solution---that Leave Kids Behind
Charters educate only 4% of U.S. children. The fastest growing system of charters is in New York, with 22% growth and only educates 2% (21,000) of New York City's over 1 million students.
According to a recent and highly regarded study only 17% of charter schools
do better than regular public schools and 36% do significantly worse. To learn
more about research on charters, see Charter
School Achievement, Hype vs. Evidence.
Systemic Opportunity Gaps and Achievement Gaps Can Be Closed in a Reasonable
In New Jersey, after the Abbott court decisions---which
provided resources for the state's high-need school districts---graduation
and achievement scores
for all students
rose---based on national standards.
Systemic Solutions Must Include High Quality Early Childhood
We've known for years that early education works, so why not
guarantee it to all our children? A child who starts school ready to learn
and is literate
by 3rd grade has lasting positive outcomes.
Education is a Civil Right
Education can't depend on a lottery, as depicted in the movie.
We must guarantee all children access to high quality early education, highly
effective teachers, college and work-preparatory
curricula and instructional resources like good school libraries and small
classes in the early grades.
Bigger and Bolder Approaches
The potential return on the investment needed to give every child an equal
opportunity to learn is 250%.
Our country's future is at the crossroads of opportunity for all or progress
for a few. The path we take is critical. The answer is not in a lottery or
Superman but in solutions that give all our children an opportunity to learn
and creates one America.
Send Superman back to his home planet, and let’s get
down to earth about providing educational opportunity to all children.
Copyright © 2010 Education
Law Center. All Rights Reserved.