Wednesday, February 23, 2011

~ Waiting for Superman ~

We are a bit behind with the Oprah Winfrey show here in South Africa, and I only saw this yesterday on TV.... and I was SHOCKED!! I mean yes, I have heard about the bad school system at the moment in the USA and that the education is falling behind... but I didn't realize that it was THAT BAD!! Just to explain for everybody who did not see the trailer or movie below:

Waiting for "Superman" is a 2010 documentary film from director Davis Guggenheim and producer Lesley Chilcott. The film analyzes the failures of American public education by following several students through the educational system.

I mean MY children are going to an American school and probably will for the rest of their school life, and if this is the example than I am CONCERNED!! BIG TIME!!

So how do you feel about it??

You there, my friends in the USA?? Are your children going to a charter school or a good public school?? Are their teachers failing your children?? What is the feeling of the parents?? What are you doing about it?? I wonder, because this was shown last year November in the USA and it is almost March now, are people forgetting the Oprah show and just going on like nothing happened before, or is there something going on to IMPROVE this??

What the movie doesn't show is that actually 1 out of 5 charter school are high performing!! NOT EVERY charter school!!

I wonder, because I haven't heard anything about it besides the Oprah show, and that is a bit alarming!!

The rest of the world is improving their education system and the USA is falling behind.... that means BIG GAPS and soon the competition is so big that a whole generation will loose out!

You can read an article in the NATION here that has an interesting take on it, and of course 1 TV show on Oprah will NOT change this huge problem, but at least it is an eye-opener and a discussion starter.... but I hope that MORE comes out of this!!

Look at this info below:

Top 10 countries with best education system in the world.

Every 3 years, the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) released its study to measure the performance of education systems in countries around the world. Are measured among students, among other things: the reading, mathematical and scientific literacy.If such a classification has the merit to exist, it also raises a lot of criticism ... especially since France is not even in the top 10 of the 2009 report that just came out. And the USA is placed 21st!!

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a worldwide evaluation of 15-year-old school pupils' scholastic performance, performed first in 2000 and repeated every three years. It is coordinated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), with a view to improving educational policies and outcomes.

PISA stands in a tradition of international school studies, undertaken since the late 1950s by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). Much of PISA's methodology follows the example of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS, started in 1995), which in turn was much influenced by the U.S. National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The reading component of PISA is inspired by the IEA's Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS).

Shanghai (China): 599 pts (out of town for classification)

Finland: 543 pts
Singapore: 543 pts
Korea: 541 pts
Japan: 529 pts
Canada: 526 pts
New Zealand: 524 pts
Australia: 518 pts
Netherlands: 518 pts
Switzerland: 517 pts
Germany: 510 pts

... 20. France: 497 pts
.... 21. USA: 496 pts

Are you happy with the school your child goes to?? How is the education system in your country?? Can your child compete with the rest of the world when he/she finishes college, will she even be educated enough to go to a college?? That is the question now in the USA, that most high school graduates can't even go to College with their scores!! Even after graduation!! SAD!!

Let's discuss!! I am interested how you feel about this!


plantagenet said...

Schools are always a matter to look into closely, especially when the kids go to higher level education. However many parents forget about the preschool quality. I sent my daughter to a boarding school and before that to a all girls school, as she had better chances to learn about it and math. The 'pink' competition hadn't started then. But the sexism and sexualisation of girls was ongoing. Thats why I started girl and boy groups to learn about communication without dominance. It worked actually quite well, the boys became willing and the parents told me later, they were so sceptical in the beginning but glad the boy had done the training.
Nowadays we have many new books on the market. But I guess most parents are not aware of the dangers of the media pressure(f.i. of those model coaching tv shows) on how girls are determined to perform that goes beyong their physical looks. Sometimes I think the mothers go into the same trap (again - which mean we've had it all).

Wendy said...

First of all, I would not use what you see on Oprah as a barometer of much of anything. This is the woman who fell all over herself defending James Frey, who turned out to be the world's biggest fraud. I'm not a fan of her. I mean, it's great that she brings attention to important issues, but more than anything what she brings attention to is herself.

Nor is it fair or accurate to make a sweeping generalization that American schools are bad or failing. Yes, the American public education system is falling behind many other industialized countries. Yes, it's something that needs to be fixed with a multi-pronged approach. Yes, there are laws in place that are trying to work toward that end (NCLB). But to say that American schools are failing because of a documentary that's pretty much looking at things through a narrow lense...well, if you're not in the trenches working with children, it's not really fair to make those judgments.

Many of the countries higher up on the list are socialized, welfare countries. They have free health care, their governments provide amazing social safety nets via a redistribution of wealth to their people that prevents the kind of gaps in income/social status that you see in the US. Those gaps play a huge part in what's going on in education today.

Poverty and marginalization play a substantial role in why some schools in the US fail. When you're 5 years old and are worrying about your father in jail, where you're going to get your next meal from, and when you've been up all night listening to gunshots outside your bedroom window, concentrating on school is pretty low on your list of priorities. Having taught in the inner city for 6 years, I can assure you that many of these kids and their parents feel very marginalized.

Just because a school is American, shouldn't automatically give you pause or concern. Every school should be judged individually on its merits. It's our job as parents to check out our children's schools. Get in there and volunteer. Find out what is going on. Keep abreast of test scores and other data. Join the PTO. Be actively involved in our children's schooling by talking about what they're doing and reading to them. There are thousands and thousands of fantastic, amazing public schools in the US that are doing innovative, terrific things. In twenty years of teaching I have never worked at one school that was failing (and that includes the one in one of the worst projects in New Haven).

Mireille said...

Thanks for the input Ginster and Wendy!! I agree with you that we need to be involved at our own school and I DO! I know there are good schools and good teachers, and I don't really worry for myself too much, more for the average other kid out there!

Wendy said...

That's the thing. YOU are involved. So you know your kids are going to a great school. Just from what you blog about, I can tell your kids are in a great school. I love the multicultural aspect of it all. BUT, a lot of parents have checked out of their kids' educations. They have no idea what is going on; they don't check homework; they don't read with their kids; they don't DISCIPLINE their kids. Education is such a team effort. We all--parents and educators--need to work together.

Mireille said...

I totally agree with you Wendy, we as parents and educators need to work together! And I also know that you are a GREAT passionate teacher!!

Wyndee said...

Oh Mireille, my head is spinning right now. I have been a public educator for the past 21 years, and it is completely unfair to blame the teachers.

A HUGE part of our schools are made up of kids who come from a long line of welfare parents (and I'm not talking about those people who are on welfare just to get back on their feet. I'm talking about generational welfare recipients who sit around all day drinking and smoking) ---- they have absolutely NO expectations for their children. Some of these kids come to school and the TEACHERS supply clean clothing for them, the TEACHERS provide soap/shampoo/deodorant for them to shower when they get to school, the SCHOOL feeds them their only two meals they get for the day, and the TEACHERS sit with those kids after school to help them complete homework because their PARENTS are too busy fleecing the system to bother to parent their children. These are the same parents who complain that we are failing their kids! Pathetic! We need to be having documentaries that finger-point to all of the lousy parents in the nation--- spread the love. ;-)

Yes, there ARE problems with the US educational system, but I am willing to bet my very low public teacher's salary that there are problems with schools in EVERY country.

Is it fair to compare our test scores with scores from other countries? Nope. We aren't comparing the same thing---- ALL of our students take the assessment tests--- not just the highest performing students because the lower students have already been placed in career studies as they are in many other countries. Our brightest kids test, and our lowest kids test. Nobody is exempt. Tell me, how is a kid who is mentally capable of performing at a level 3-4 years lower than the grade he/she is in expected to pass a grade-level test with an 85% proficiency level? It can't be done, and our teachers are being blamed for that kid not passing the exam. It's unfair not only for the teacher, but more importantly, it's unfair to that kid!

And just because the almighty Oprah says it's so doesn't necessarily mean it is.... like Wendy said, she glorified James Frey and we know how that turned out.

The bottom line is it takes a team effort to educate our children. The teacher is no more solely responsible for a kid's success or failure just as the kid's parents aren't totally responsible.

Okay, I'll hop down off of my soapbox now. ha

Leah and Maya said...

I don't have as much to say other then I have stressed for 1 year now and still have another to go about where Maya will go to kindergarden. She goes to a preschool for 2 hours 1 day a week right now, and they only allow 8 kids in each class. Next year she will probably go 2 days. I'm still upset that kindergarden is now all day 5 days a week in the schools where we live. Its crazy to me, they are little kids, but I understand that alot of people send their kids to daycare all day so the schools have adapted and now they have free child care. I am still not happy about it and am not sure what I will do. The school closest to us used to be really good, now not so much. To drive her 5 days a week to a different school is an option I'm considering. We don't live in the city so everything is spaced out. I would like her to be in a smaller classroom, but still be abel to play sports if she wants. For these reasons I would liek her to go to private school, but of course we can't afford it after the IVF and adoption expenses, plus one fo the good schools woudl be too hard for her to fit in, because I don't believe in wasting money like I see being done, and others are too religous for me.
I dont' know still another year to figure it out, thank goodness for a fall birthday.

Mireille said...

I knew this would be a topic we can discuss and talk about ALL day!! And I really don't have one clear answer, and I don't blame only the teachers, although there are good and bad people in each profession! Not only the teaching world...

Sending your kid to school and think you are done with it, is not right! You have to be involved in your child's education from the beginning to the end.

But what would be a good solution?? So that every child no matter what background or zip code he/she lives in has a good education?? What would YOU do if you could change anything??

Maci Miller said...

hmmmm....very interesting. I haven't watched much TV (for myself) in the last year so I never saw that. Ruby goes to a private Montessori school and so far we really like it. Not having much experience in the matter or having read up on it, I can't say too much more than that. Good topic though! I think it's very important for us parents to always be involved. I don't sit around and wait for teachers to teach Ruby. I make sure to work on her numbers, speech, ABC's, music, and art every week - in addition to what she is doing at pre-K. That way I know all the bases are covered, so to speak.

Wendy said...

I just have to respond to the comment about all day kindergarten being "free daycare." As a kindergarten teacher for the better part of my 20 year teaching career, that kind of comment makes me want to scream. Seriously. It is beyond insulting. With all due respect, you could not be more wrong. I am not a babysitter. I am a highly trained professional with a master's degree, and the children I teach all day are not my charges; they are my students. During a full day of kindergarten students get a full curriculum of literacy (reading, writing), math, social studies, science, computers, specials, etc. There is no nap time or free play time in kindergarten anymore. My students are expected to leave my classroom reading and writing at benchmark levels that would have been unheard of even 10 years ago. All day kindergarten is a response to the growing demands of the curriculum and the standards we have to meet as educators. It has nothing to do with providing free day care to parents.


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