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Waiting For SUPERMAN: A Participant Media Guide (2010)

by Karl Weber(Favorite Author)
3.47 of 5 Votes: 3
1586489275 (ISBN13: 9781586489274)
review 1: I picked this book up directly after finishing the enlightening book about our school systems by Diane Ravitch. To preface, I did see the movie by the same name many months before reading this. While I didn't remember all the details, I could recall that the movie came off rather one-sided (anti-union, pro-charter) so was pleasantly surprised that the book offered various viewpoints and struck me as more balanced than the film. Expecting a novel-esque version of the film, I found instead a collection of essays by many different players in the education reform field. One of my favorites was "Calling All Citizens" by Eric Schwarz. I wasn't familiar with Citizen Schools but (as one could guess from my current career choice working in an educational non-profit that provides su... morepplemental instruction in public schools) I am an avid supporter of getting a community involved and finding ways to bring in experts in various areas to support the important work going on within a school. "It takes a village" isn't a saying for no reason: Teachers are vital and handle the bulk of formal instruction, but when school only lasts 180 out of 365 days, we need to get others involved in new and fun ways. His examples of editors/writers teaching kids to create a newspaper or engineers doing experiments is the way to expose kids to all the options that are out there for them to choose, and to get them excited about learning. Another great one was by Weingarten, head of a teachers union. She struck the nail on the head when she pointed out that "Much of the tension in the film stems from whether the children featured will get the chance to attend the school their parents seek for them. The fact is that the opportunity to access a great public education should come not by chance, not by choice, but by right. We should applaud schools that produce great student achievement in difficult environments. But, fundamentally, this is why islands of excellence will never be enough." EXACTLY. Why exactly is the movie creating that tension? To drive us towards thinking charter schools ARE the saving graces... When in fact it shouldn't ever be to that point as to hold a lottery for kids to get into a "good school". Every public school should be that good. The movie forces us to root for the wrong things. There is an essay by Canada, who launched the Harlem Zone. He made valid points but I also felt that he was one to talk when he points out that "we can look at great charter schools for inspiration, but the traditional public school system is what ultimately needs to be changed..." when he does run charter schools. However, I say that while also maintaining that his concept and pursuit of the Harlem Children's Zone is admirable and impressive. If only there was one of those in every neighborhood in our nation.. Of course, Rhee, Gates, and a few other names make appearances in this essay collection as well, but these were a few that spoke to me.
review 2: "The fate of our country won't be decided on a battlefield, it will be determined in a classroom." The book Waiting for “Superman”, edited by Karl Weber, talks about the problems presented in nowadays America’s public education system and how can we save them.The book starts with several statistics. Right now in America, there are about 7000 students drop out of school everyday, and 1.3 million every year; barely half of African-American and Latino students graduate from high school; in 1970, the US produced 30 percent of the world’s college graduate, and only 15 percent today. All of these numbers illustrate how serious the problem is.So where does the problem come from? The book attributes the source of the issue to many aspects, such as the teacher union, the impact from local community, and parents. They are reasonable causes; however, the discussion of the impact of teachers drags my attention.The idea that teacher quality is a crucial fact in determining the success of students has made a big debate. In 1966, Equality of Educational opportunity, the so called “most extensive investigation of US schools” is published. This report advocates the importance of families and peers, and schools do not matter. It also says that “some measurable characteristic of schools and classrooms,” for example, the teacher’s degree, years of experience, or the number of students in one classroom, “had no clear statistical effect on student performance.” Later in 1960s, there was an extensive research led to a very different policy conclusion. First, “there are very important differences among teachers.” Second, these differences are not determined by those “measurable characteristics.” In addition to teachers that are not dedicated on teaching, as long as teachers are responsible and well-prepared for the curriculum, he/she shouldn’t be considered as a “bad teacher.” In my idea, students are also one of the important factors in determining the overall level of the school. If the teacher could build up a good studying atmosphere in which every student are eager to participate and learn, he/she could be called a good teacher. In this aspect, I find some connections with the St. Paul’s School in the book Black Ice by Lorene Cary. Even though Lorene, the main character, is in a tough situation in school because of her races, she meets good teachers, such as Mr. Hawley who reassures her for her good performances and Mr. Shipman who offer her private classes, helped with her schooling. Also, surely, her success comes from her hard work. Not saying that St. Paul’s is not a good school for studying, but it’s a tough environment for Lorene, this black girl, to struggle in a previously white, male school.The question is complicated. It is not correct to put the entire responsibility on only one or two groups of people. We should all take the duty to make our country’s public education better. There isn’t any “Superman” in the world; if there is, that would be oneself. The “Superman” could be the student who is trying to achieve well in school, or teachers who are passionate on teaching, or the leaders who want to change the American public education systems. In conclusion, I highly recommend this book to readers who want to know more about the truth situation of the American’s public education. less
Reviews (see all)
The book was too long/ redundant. I'm sure the movie is the way to go w this one.
Really not very enlightening at all; the movie has a far greater effect.
Enjoyed it more than the documentary which came first.
The prologue alone was motivating.
It was okay.
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