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The Best Posts & Articles About The Teacher-Bashing “Waiting For Superman” Movie & Associated Events

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The new movie “Waiting For Superman” has unleashed a storm of teacher-bashing across the mainstream media — Oprah, NBC, MSNBC, just to name a few.

Teachers and others have written some very articulate responses, and I thought I’d start collecting the best ones in a “The Best…” list. This list is not just limited to commentary on the movie itself, but also on the associated media events.

I’ll be regularly adding more. If you have written a good piece, or know of one that you think I should add, please leave a comment.

Here are my choices for The Best Posts & Articles About The Teacher-Bashing “Waiting For Superman” Movie:

Grading ‘Waiting for Superman’ by Dana Goldstein, The Nation

Education Nation & Ideological Blindness by Gary Stager

Booker Outclasses Winfrey on Education by David B. Cohen

Katrina Nation: Driving Past Public Schools by Nancy Flanagan

Katrina Nation, Part II: Live-blogging the NBC Teacher Town Hall by Nancy Flanagan

Oprah and her warrior woman, Michelle Rhee by Valerie Strauss at The Washington Post

Dear Ms. Winfrey at Change Agency

An inconvenient truthiness by Aaron Pallas

Finding real heroes for ‘Superman’ at The Leading Source

NBC’s Teacher Town Hall – reaction/reflection by Ken Bernstein

What ‘Superman’ got wrong, point by point by Rick Ayers at The Answer Sheet

The elephant that Obama and Lauer ignored: Poverty and student achievement is the headline of a post by Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post. It’s about an interview that Matt Lauer did with President Obama today as part of NBC’s teacher-bashing week coordinated with the release of “Waiting For Superman.” (they say it’s just a coincidence).

“Education Nation: I Should Have Known Better” is a very thoughtful post by Stephen Lazar, a Bronx teacher who was invited to participate in NBC’s Education Nation event. I learned about it from Karen Janowski, who suggests (and I agree) that it’s important to read until its end.

K-12 Education on the Marquee is an excellent post by Walt Gardner on the common errors being made in documentaries about schools.

My only issue with it is that he suggests that parents of English Language Learners might not respond to requests to meet with teachers. I’m not really sure where that comes from, since ELL parents are just as interested in their child’s welfare as any other parent. I’m assuming that he might have meant that some schools might not have the language ability to communicate with monolingual parents. That I can understand. (Walt clarifies what he meant here).

NPR has a good, short interview (audio and transcript) with Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. She comments on “Waiting For Superman” and other related events. I think she provides a very good perspective.

NOT Waiting For Superman is a website created by Rethinking Schools that has many related resources.

Teacher Trap: In the world of education, there’s no such thing as a Superman is a good article in The American Prospect.

What I Learned at NBC’s Education Nation Summit is a must-read post by teacher Brian Jones. He participated in one of the panels of NBC’s Education Nation.

“‘Superman’ Offers Mirage, Not A Miracle” is a great op-ed piece in the Sacramento Bee by Walt Gardner.

Fact-checking “Waiting for Superman”: False data and fraudulent claims is a great post by Leonie Haimson. I can’t imagine how much time it took her to investigate some of the film’s more outrageous claims, but I’m sure glad she did.

Feedback and suggestions are welcome.

If you found this post useful, you might want to look at the 500 other “The Best…” lists and consider subscribing to this blog for free

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

19 Comments

  1. My name is Sarah Blankenship, I am currently a student at the University of South Alabama. I am enrolled in Dr. Strange’s EDM 310 class. I have also seen and heard news about this movie. On “The Best…” list I read Dear Ms. Winfrey. I was able to watch this show and I was also dissapointed that she failed to include a public school on her show. She is a very influential person and I beleive that by excluding public schools she further lowered opinions about them. This would have been a great opportunity to show a few public schools that are exceeding expectations.

  2. Larry,
    There is a really great comment on David’s article pointing out Bookers DfER connections, and how the recent Zuckerburg donation, is as they are dismantling a program to equalizing funding in schools that has improved the situation in Newark. So basically, they are pulling out equitable funding from the state (settling a lawsuit similar to the Williams action here in California) for the more ephemeral and temporary largess of the super rich and foundation. Here’s an idea, let’s bring back progressiveness to our taxation policy and not have funding based on the whim and will of the rich.

  3. Did you know that Oprah’s Warrior Woman, Chancellor Michelle Rhee, abused inner-city children when she was a teacher in Baltimore? Here’s the full story along with an audio of her funny rendition of the “Masking Tape” incident via The Washington Post:
    http://dcwtp.wordpress.com/2010/09/17/the-%E2%80%9Ccelebrated%E2%80%9D-chancellor-rhee-used-masking-tape-to-silence-her-3rd-graders-and-joked-about-it-to-dc-teachers/

  4. Larry,
    This week I wrote several entries related to this:
    How WOULD a Journalist Cover Education Nation, with some pointed questions for NBC: http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2010/09/how_would_a_journalist_cover_e.html

    And OprahPaganda, my take on Monday’s infomercial on Waiting for Superman. http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2010/09/oprahpaganda.html

    Anthony Cody

  5. Larry,
    I enjoy your blog every much and look forward to your posts. It’s taken a long time, but the teacher-bashing has finally reached a head and educators are feeling that enough is enough. My post about the subject is called, Waiting for the Citizens of Edutropolis:http://www.masterlearners.com/m-l-blog.html
    Thanks for sharing others’ posts about this topic as I hadn’t seen a couple of those you shared with us.

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  7. Alice,

    How seditious of you! You mean that we have a society that looks after its citizens and isn’t based on handouts? OMG. Please be careful or you’ll soon be on a no fly list.

    I’ll just have to write something about this after it digests and I can call a spade a spade. But the bottom line has not been anything to do with education but a lot to do with changes in the consciousness and mindset of the West and which have led to policies which devalue education that is anything but to get a good job and climb over the next guy.

    My own post will be “No school is an island” and that fundamentally is the problem. Not chartered vs public vs private. Not about poverty either, that’s just a co symptom of people alienated from each other. I came across this Victor Frankl video and he seems to have said it best (as did Goethe). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_bjOeECpjI

    I don’t think education or teachers are the problem. I think it is that we don’t care enough to do anything about it.

    David

  8. Larry – Here’s another article by Rick Ayers, with another play on titles: An Inconvenient Superman

    http://chilaborarts.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/an-inconvenient-superman-rick-ayers-in-huffington-post/

  9. Excellent idea–thank you for doing this.

    This post by John Merrow is an excellent analysis:
    http://takingnote.learningmatters.tv/?p=4502

    And I’ve written a couple myself, most of them as the coverage was unfolding. Still working on my “post” post.
    Here’s a few:
    Listening to Teacher Voices–
    http://futura.edublogs.org/2010/09/14/listening-to-teacher-voices/
    Time to Change the Message:
    http://futura.edublogs.org/2010/09/20/diversifying-the-education-message/
    No More Dead Dogs
    http://futura.edublogs.org/2010/09/25/no-more-dead-dogs/

  10. Rethinking Schools has put up a website, NOTwaitingforsuperman.org and a Facebook page to share resources and responses about the film, including many of the pieces mentioned here. We’ll add a link to this “Best of” list,” and encourage visitors to add to it and join the discussions.

  11. Great list! Thanks for this “round-up.”

  12. For a somewhat different approach – as a parent of three public school students who have all benefitted from a lot of wonderful teachers, I was inspired to write some biting satire. My piece is called, “Five True Things About Education Reform,” and can be found here:
    http://smokingtowardnewjersey.blogspot.com/2010/09/five-true-things-about-education-reform.html

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  15. I found this wonderful resource through a teacher’s blog. He says public education is about just that: the public. Regular, average folks who limp through their lives. Well, in so many words.

    http://entropicalparadise.blogspot.com/2010/10/tired-tired-tired.html

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  17. This movie and its criticisms aside, there is the fact that our students are scoring at 3rd world education levels. Whether or not this movie reflects reality, our students are growing less educated, and less viable on a world scale, yearly. Maybe the critics of this movie can provide a suitable explanation for our failure to educate. If it is not the system, and teachers, is it genetic?

  18. Pingback: Reflections on Waiting for Superman » Philly Teacher

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