Friday, October 29, 2010

Waiting for Superman

Saw this documentary by Davis Guggenheim (of Inconvenient Truth).
Notes to self include:
- ignoring the obvious: what does race have to do with the failing school we see today? 50yrs after Brown vs Board of Education, schools are more segregated than ever (Harvard study of 2000). Guggenheim chose not to address this. See Bonilla-Silva's Racism Without Racists.
- most of the failing schools are from low-income, inner-city, communities of color. is there a connection between de-industrialization, white flight, outsourcing, loss of jobs and failing schools in these places?
- what legislations have been put in place to de-fund schools (Prop 13 in CA)?
- yes, there are teachers who shouldn't be in the classroom. is the solution to weaken teacher's unions?
- how do federal mandates like No Child Left Behind punish low performing schools and deepen the crisis? Is Obama's policy any better?
- who is this "Superman" hero and what does he represent? or who does he represent?
- Detroit's Another Education is Possible:  the devastation of deindustrialized Detroit is creating a revolution. Grace Lee Boogs: We have to stop waiting on government and corporations to save us, we have to redefine the meaning of education, work, community away from the economic model. is there a different model to work with? what values must this revolution embrace?
- Connect the dots: globalization is in crisis and the crisis in education in the US is part of this crisis. the documentary does not make this connection. it seems to beat up on a dying horse.
- the 19th century education that produced the affluence of the 20th century may have peaked -- and what we are witnessing are its unintended consequences. the economic model is failing us. capitalism is producing severe social crisis.
- the crisis is perhaps not only social and economic but also ecological, spiritual crisis. how can they be separate? some even it call it a civilizational crisis.
- how do we re-imagine ourselves out of a crisis? how do we re-define what it means to be 'educated'? how do we re-imagine the American Dream that has turned into a nightmare for so many?
- the old escapegoats won't work.
- Guggenheim, a good bleeding heart liberal, offers his own mea culpa everytime he passes a failing urban public school on his way to drop off his kids to a private school. he wants to do good. he wants to save education. but i doubt that charter schools alone will save education; weakening teachers' unions won't cut it. putting money into education won't do it.
- we need more than Superman. Superman is dead and he is not coming back to life.


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