Friday, October 14, 2011

Waiting for Superman--the movie

Tuesday night I saw the documentary Waiting for Superman. The depiction of the familes trapped in bad public schools is gut wrenching, but in a way beautiful, as you see the deep love and commitment the parents (poor, middle class, black, white, Hispanic, inner city, suburban) have to their children and their belief in education. I'm the third generation in my family to attend college, and I'm not sure I'm that passionate about the value of higher education. One statistic surprised me: if we could get rid of the 6-10% of really awful teachers (can't be fired because of the union) and just replace them with mediocre, we could have a system as good as Finland's, which is rated best in the world.

Having lived in two very small towns, Forreston and Mt. Morris, Illinois, I think I had some outstanding teachers in the days before unions and high wages. But a few did get the boot before they could do much damage. Two on sex charges (and that seems to be about the only way to get rid of bad teachers today), one of was fired even before the school year started when the administration found out he liked to have "slumber parties" for the athletes and the other for exposing himself. Two male teachers were not prepared to deal with teen-agers, who even in the 1950s could think up a lot of mischief. My first grade teacher was really harsh, and just died a few years ago. She was too mean to die, but boy did I learn phonics!

My all time crush on a teacher was my third grader teacher, Miss DeWall. I've forgotten her first name, but she left after one year to get married and I believe she died while I was in college. She was kind, beautiful, attentive to all, very thorough, and lots of fun. Every child should be so fortunate to have a Miss DeWall in her life.

No comments: