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The American Teacher “is not” Waiting for Superman – Part 2/2

The documentary, “Waiting for Superman”, on the other hand, argued that non-unionized charter schools would do a better job, and the public schools were failing the nation due to teacher unions protecting incompetent teachers.

However, according to Dona Goldstein writing for Slate, “Only 17 percent of charters are consistently better than traditional public schools at raising students’ math and reading scores.”

In fact, it helps to know who funded “Waiting for Superman” and the small fortune that promoted the film.

To discover that answer, Alan Singer, writing for Huffington Post, says, “The real question for me is where the money came from to make the pseudo-documentary and who is paying to promote a movie that no one apparently wants to see. The answer, of course, is from “Big Bill” Gates and a gaggle of hedge fund investors who smell mega-profits if government financed private for profit McSchools are allowed to muscle in on public school dollars.

“The film is executive produced and financed by Participant Media, which was founded by former eBayist Jeffrey Skoll.

“Participant Media’s current CEO is Jim Berk. When Berk was Chairman and CEO of Gryphon Colleges Corporation, he was responsible for the formation of a private company operating for-profit schools…

“The Denver-based Charter School Growth Fund, a nonprofit venture capital fund, recently announced it had secured $80 million in initial commitments with big donations coming from among others the Walton Family Foundation. Wal-Mart is also a big supporter of the Waiting for “Superman” social action campaign and seems primed to provide us with Wal-Mart Academies modeled on big box stores that destroy communities and small businesses, drive down wages, and provide us with endless quantities of junk.”


– a Conversation on “Waiting for Superman” held at Stanford University –

In addition, Dana Goldstein, writing for The Nation, says, “Here’s what you don’t see in “Waiting for Superman”:

“You don’t see teen moms, households without an adult English speaker or headed by a drug addict, or any of the millions of children who never have a chance to enter a charter school lottery (or get help with their homework or a nice breakfast) because adults simply aren’t engaged in their education. These children, of course, are often the ones who are most difficult to educate, and the ones neighborhood public schools can’t turn away.”

“You also don’t learn that in the Finnish education system, much cited in the film as the best in the world, teachers are—gasp!—unionized and granted tenure, and families benefit from a cradle-to-grave social welfare system that includes universal daycare, preschool and healthcare, all of which are proven to help children achieve better results at school.”

Note from Blog host: America’s public school teachers are expected to create miracles as if they have super powers by overcoming many almost impossible obstacles and when they don’t, they are often crucified by public education’s enemies and critics.

I know what I am talking about because I worked as a public school teacher in Southern California for thirty years and my average work week was sixty to hundred hours a week and the challenges that I faced daily were daunting to say the least.

What is a teacher to do when parents do not supervise homework at home or provide reading time?  In fact, over the years, I heard parents tell their child that if the child didn’t want to do the work the teacher assigned, they didn’t have to.

Conspiracy theories abound but in the case of America’s schools, the war being waged on teachers and their unions and the accusations that the reason the average America’s school child is mediocre is the fault of incompetent teachers that cannot be fired has all the earmarks of a conspiracy of dunces based on lies and myths that have no foundation in truth/facts.

Where is the evidence that there are so many failing teachers that it is the reason America’s students are not measuring up?  There is none.  Although there are incompetent teachers in the public schools (I knew a few – less than 5 out of hundreds), there are not enough of them.

Return to The American Teacher “is not” Waiting for Superman – Part 1

____________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

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The American Teacher “is not” Waiting for Superman – Part 1/2

The documentary “American Teacher” focused on the low pay of teachers when compared to their peers working in the private sector with similar educational backgrounds, and the back breaking demands on most teachers (working an average 60 hours or more a week – for example, I often worked a 100 hour week often starting at 6AM when the gates to the school were unlocked and staying as late as 11:00 PM when the alarms were turned on and the gates locked).

While the film was not perfect because it didn’t mention the role of parents and other pressures teachers face, it offered a more realistic view of education in America than “Waiting for Superman” did.

Points made that many of the critical reviews of this documentary ignored were:

1. 46 percent of public school teachers leave the profession within the first five years of being in the classroom.

2. Salaries and stress are among the top reasons teachers say they leave.

3. 62 percent of our nation’s teachers must have second jobs outside of the classroom-like tutoring, mowing lawns, selling stereos, or bartending—to be able to afford to teach.

From a few positive reviews of “American Teacher” —

Mark Phillips of the Washington Post said, “A film about education that gets it exactly right… Powerful and compelling. Every policymaker should be required to see American Teacher”

Joe Neumaier of the New York Daily News said, “This heartbreaking and essential look into the lives of those who put so much into educating other people’s children ought to be seen by everyone concerned about the fate of the public school system, and the nation as a whole.” – “Sobering and powerful.” – Ernest Hardy, Village Voice

Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times said, “A heartfelt, bittersweet portrait.”

Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times said, “As we watch the individuals in American Teacher struggle with the burdens of the system places on them, it’s hard not to feel like crying, both for them…and our national culture.”

Note: I also spent thousands of dollars for educational materials over the years that I taught, and for a few years, I also worked a second job to pay the bills in addition to working summers in jobs such as construction, since I wasn’t paid as a teacher during the ten weeks of the summer break.

Continued on April 2, 2012 in The American Teacher “is not” Waiting for Superman – Part 2

____________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, with a BA in journalism and an MFA in writing,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

Graphic OCT 2015

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Making Positive Impacts on Education – Part 1/2

I have more to share from the Costco Connection. This time it is the Cover Story by Steve Fisher in the May 2011 issue, about pro-active professional athletes making a positive impact for individuals and education proving once again if the will is there, students will learn and succeed.

I must have taught more than 6,000 students during the thirty years I was in the classroom, and it is a fact that in every class there were willing students that wanted to learn and did.  The students that earned A’s, B’s and C’s were not the exception—they just applied themselves.

What made the difference in students that listened, read, asked questions, took part in discussions and worked was someone that instilled at an early age the importance of an education.

Unfortunately, students that disrupted the learning environment and/or did not study or do the work outnumbered those that cooperated.

However, according to many American politicos and even US Presidents, failures in the American public education system is due to bad teaching.

In fact, the real reason is that there are about three million public school teachers in the US compared to more than sixty million parents. Why tell the truth and lose the votes of parents, which outnumber the votes of teachers?

When I Googled “How many bad teachers are there?” 45 million hits came back. Most that I looked at were opinions, but I discovered the results from one reputable study that said, “fewer than 1% of teachers are rated unsatisfactory”. Source: Ed Policy Thoughts.com

I then learned there are about 3.2 million public school teachers in the US (K to 12), which means about 32,000 teachers are doing an unsatisfactory job with more than three million doing a good job with students that cooperate.

If a few bad teachers are the problem, whom do we give credit to for the successes? Alan Page, Edgar Martinez, or Oprah Winfrey are a few besides the more than 3 million public school teachers doing an adequate or outstanding job with students that cooperate.

I will share more about what I learned from the Costco Connection in addition to what I have learned Oprah Winfrey has done for education in Part 2.

Continued on June 1, 2011 in Making Positive Impacts on Education – Part 2 or discover Costco Connection’s “Is College Worth It?”

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

lloydlofthouse_crazyisnormal_web2_5

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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