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Waiting For Superman Essay

1569 words - 7 pages

“Waiting For Superman”
Geoffrey Canada stated, “One of the saddest days of my life was when my mother told me Superman didn’t exist... I was crying because there was no one coming with enough power to save us.” Just as many children look up to fictional characters such as Superman, parents look up to our school system to educate, if not raise, their children. However, too many of these parents are beginning to realize that an effective education, like Superman, is nonexistent.
In Waiting for Superman, Davis Guggenheim addresses a failing public school system in America that is a result of teachers unions, ineffective teachers, and false promises, among many other factors. The director’s ...view middle of the document...

His promotion of charter schools in the film conveniently exclude the statistics that show that charter schools are not the silver bullet that will save a failing educational system. For example, a study from Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes discovered that while 17 percent of charter schools "provide superior education opportunities for their students," an alarmingly "37 percent deliver learning results that are significantly worse than their students would have realized had they remained in traditional public schools." Nevertheless, I have seen firsthand the problems faced by educators in the public school system and feel that charter schools do, in fact, have the ability to offer an effective education to their students if certain intrinsic motivations are the driving force.
In Waiting for Superman, Guggenheim attacks teachers unions and blames tenure for allowing ineffective teachers to continue teaching. The fact of the matter is that unions don’t grant tenure – administrators do. Too many school boards and superintendents attack tenure rather than hold their own managers accountable for hiring and supervising teachers and, when necessary, removing those who don’t make the grade. There is no need for teachers to have tenure in a public school. The principle of academic freedom today is so well established that no administration or board of trustees at any school district would dare violate it and risk a discrimination lawsuit. Tenure started in the early 20th century as a means of protecting teachers from being fired for wrong reasons. Back then, racial or personal bias could get a perfectly good teacher fired. Female teachers even faced being fired for becoming pregnant or for wearing pants to work. Tenure also served to protect professors whose research or teaching practices might ruffle the feathers of superiors, and to ensure job security for out of the box academic pursuits. Today, teachers are obligated to teach material that is needed for students to succeed and excel during testing. These requirements are rigorous but lack the need for creative or courageous teaching practices. I have noticed that most seasoned teachers, despite being tenured, are concerned more about test grades and observations from administrators rather than teaching children how to think critically or make judgments and calculations for themselves. Teachers should have no fear in being dismissed or receiving an undesirable rating if they are doing the job that they were hired for. On the other hand, if one is not effective in teaching or maintains a lack of motivation for their students’ success in life then there is no reason why that person should keep their position. Workers in most professions are fired due to inadequacies or dereliction of duty. Seemingly in a profession where the risks of not being competent in your duties can affect the lives of others, it is surprising that these inadequate teachers are retained.

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