Last night a bunch of teachers – well, about 15 from our school and over 100 from others – took advantage of the local Sundance Theater’s offer to see the new movie Waiting for Superman at half-price. While I had mixed feelings about the film and its subtext (there are lots of bad teachers out there! and the teachers’ union is bad, bad, bad! and No Child Left Behind is only trying to help kids succeed!) I felt I should see it for myself. I also knew the film would feature KIP Academies and the schools of Geoffrey Canada, and I wanted a glimpse inside. Although many people around the country, and around the world, are seeing this film, only those fortunate enough to attend last night were able to view it through the most progressive, pro-teacher lens possible. That’s because two UW professors of education gave a talk between showings, and what they said ought to be on Oprah instead of Bill Gates, movie director Davis Guggenheim, and musician John Legend (who provides the music, and has been promoting the film.) The professors are two I’ve had myself: Michael Apple and Gloria Ladson-Billings.
Their talk was the perfect antidote to the movie. Sure, I left feeling inadequate as a teacher, and worried about the future of American education. But at least I didn’t assume the entire responsibility for a system that is funded less well than prisons, continues to segregate students and funnel many into "failure factories," and lays the blame on struggling families who lack the resources to provide enrichment and superior schooling for their children. I merely left resolved to try harder, in my own way, with each and every one of my students. Thank you, Professors Apple and Ladson-Billings!
-This just in- there was an article about this topic in today’s Capital Times newspaper.