Are You Waiting for Superman for Better Schools?

For many American children, the key to a good education -- and a decent future as a productive adult -- is a crap shoot. Or more precisely, a slim chance in a lottery with those Bingo balls. That's the achingly sad visual that runs through the much-talked-about new movie, Waiting for 'Superman.'

The timing of its release couldn't be better -- education is the hot-button topic for the November elections. In addition to the "Superman" movie, NBC aired its Education Nation Summit last week and President Obama, who was interviewed by Matt Lauer, lamented that there's no question that the education his kids get at the most noted private school in Washington, D.C., is better than what most public school children in the nation's capital get.

While that discussion is going on, the so-called "mama grizzly" candidates are on different pages about how public schools should be funded and who should be in charge of creating curricula so our kids won't lag so far behind most other developed countries (can you say 25 out of 30 in developed nations for math?).

There's plenty of agreement that our schools have problems that can't be fixed overnight, but I worry that if public school education becomes the next political football, we all lose. And it's not just whether we disagree on designing curricula or teachers' unions. We could use a little more focus on what's going into our kids' textbooks and who gets to have that say.

Academics? Teachers? School administrators?

Think again.

For a vast majority of textbooks all over the country, it's a handful of conservative elected politicians on the Texas State Board of Education who decide what your kids will learn. They've been busy this year upping the Christian content and taking out references to Islam, as well as making sure that white historical role models get a higher profile with our kids than people of color.

Surprised they have so much sway? Don't be -- publishers cater to them because Texas is one of the largest, and most vocal, purchasers of textbooks. So if you want to stay in business as a textbook publisher, you've got to make the clients happy.

And the clients aren't our kids.

I'm not sure even Superman can take on all the issues we face to put our schools back on a better track for everyone's children. For that, we need more than just Superman. We might just need the whole Justice League.


Image via Waiting for Superman

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nonmember avatar Allboys

No child should be waiting on any superman. They were created by two superheroes who should be the champion of their education from birth. What your child learns of history, math, science, politics ect at school is just a fraction of what there is to know. actual real world knowledge and delving deep into topics should be lead by parents. The trouble is everyone is screaming about what politicians should be doing instead of looking at the real problem. Parents set the tone for learning not teachers. Parents set the tone for nutrition. Not school lunches. It seems to me to many people are using the school systems as a scape goat for their own inadequacies as parents these days. If you don't feel your child is getting an adequate education then take the drastic measures necessary to ensure they attain one. What ever happened to personal responsibility. If your child can't read in the sixth grade the school didn't fail them YOU failed them.

Pundi... PunditMom

That's pretty rough and clearly not true.  Yes, parents obviously need tobe involved, but is that an excuse for schools that have 50 kids in a class, have teachers who don't connect with kids in a way they can learn, or hav just too many kids to give everyone the attention they need.

If we as a country don't care that we lag behind almost all other developed countries because we don't have a decent school system, then we are doomed.  Unless everyone is able and qualified to home school their children, public edcuation is a must. 

hotic... hoticedcoffee

I think Allboys and Punit each make good points and are both right. 

Parents absolutely need to step up and make sure their kid isn't falling behind, and do what needs to be done instead of expecting the school to fix it.  The way schools are currently run, the kids that are behind stay that way unless the parents step in with extra support outside the classroom.  Schools aren't going to get "fixed" fast enough to save a kid that's already behind.

The public school system needs an overhaul.  I am lucky to live in a town with a great school system - well, I guess not lucky, since we decided to buy our home in this town specifically for the excellent public schools.   But I hear horror stories from friends who are teachers in other districts, and friends with kids in other districts - teachers who don't seem to like kids and/or teaching, over-crowded classrooms, violence in the schools, etc  I wouldn't even begin to know where to start, other than putting the bad teachers out to pasture - but the problem is much bigger than that. 

nonmember avatar Allboys

What exactly isn't true about it? I wonder how many parents who have a child within a 50 student classroom have even looked at the text books of their child. Not because they aren't welcome in the classroom but because it would be to much of an inconvenience.

Obviously the amount of children we have produced as a nation is to much of a burden for the amount of tax payers to adequately educate. So the burden falls to the parents. Where it should be in the first place. It is our job as parents to ensure an adequate education for all of our children. To revamp the entire school system we would need to either audit every single state or raise taxes. If we want schools to be better funded then we need to charge more of our society property taxes. Then again that would mean raising taxes on the poor and we don't want to do that. The middle class of this country can not afford to be burdened with any more taxes either. Politicians certainly aren't going to become honest and uncorrupted any time soon. So that kicks the audit out of the window.

Parental involvement is one of the biggest factors in a child's success in school so what is so rough about my statement? Please do tell me because it seems to me if you can't take the responsibility of your child's education first you certainly shouldn't be blaming other people. Seems to me I just don't agree with you.

nonmember avatar Allboys

The other problem that we are all aware of but none of us can change is the teachers union. It's almost impossible to fire bad teachers and good teachers are run out of the school system before they even get a chance to start a career because of the sometimes unlivable wages. So what are we to do about that. Well if we could address the politicians who are in the pocket of the unions we maybe could solve some of the problems but I don't see that happening any time soon.

Also another thing that needs to be addressed is school bullies who terrorize children and sometimes entire classes of children. We need to start forcing the schools to criminally prosecute for criminal behavior.

The idiocy that is the no tolerance policies needs to go away too. Children who are as young as 5 years old need not be getting expelled and arrested for bringing butter knives to school while in other places children are being sexually assaulted without repercussion. But again I go back to parental involvement. People need to research the school districts thoroughly BEFORE they move to a new home. Or is that just asking for to much personal responsibility again.

Beths... Bethsunshine

I homeschool, I can't GET anymore involved than that!!

Stell... StellarJKD

I plan on homeschooling my daughter, except for math - she'll get a tutor for that, I can barely add, lol!

My school was ok, but the reason I excelled above other kids WAS parental involvement - my mom DID read our textbooks, help us with our homework, and teach us things we weren't learning in school. "Allboys", I can see your point, but what you're saying isn't true for everyone. Most of the parents I know are very involved in their child's education. It is unfortunate that not all kids get that, and it's unfortunate that not all schools have the ability to make up for that, still giving kids a good, fair chance at honest and truthful education, despite their home life or abilities.

29again 29again

Once we get the federal government OUT of the public school system, knock down the teacher's unions, and give the control of the schools to the STATES (the way it should be!) I think things will get better!  And just let me say that parental involvement does not guarantee that your child will get the education s/he should be getting -- I had to fight the school system for YEARS to get my dd tested.  It wasn't until I told them that I would put her in another school that they did anything beyond give her a hearing test.  I guess money really does talk, huh?   That is the only thing, rather the possibility of LOSING some money, that got my dd any attention from those who were supposed to be on HER side.  She is a SR now, and doing wonderfully, and I just have my ds to worry about.  And I am almost to the point where he will be homeschooled.  I really am disgusted with public school, especially the one in my town.

Pundi... PunditMom

States? With 50 different standards? I hardly think that will advance our kids standings or understandings.

PonyC... PonyChaser

So, Pundit... if more parental involvement isn't the solution, and getting the Fed Gov't out of the process, and returning schools to more local control isn't the solution... obviously you have something in mind that IS the solution.  Would you care to share?

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