Are We Waiting for Superman?

TONYO MELENDEZ WRITES:

I saw a great movie today. Actually, it’s more than a movie; it’s a document. And more than a document, it is an indictment; a condemnation of the American educational system. This documentary shows us why we have gone from being the best educational system in the world down to the 27th out of the 30 industrialized nations in the world. The richest country in the world is producing the worst students.

Shame.

Why is this? The documentary shows that teachers are not doing their jobs. Specifically, union teachers who have put their interests ahead of those of the ones they are supposed to help; children.

At Learning is M.A.G.I.C., I am a teacher.  I admire teachers. The best ones are magical. Teachers hold in their hands the future of innocent children who put their trust in them. Teachers hold in their hands the future of America. Great teachers equal great country. They have my respect and my admiration.

The bad teachers are the ones responsible. They have given up on themselves and on their students. A 22-year old college graduate who enters the teaching profession can get tenure in two years. Many teachers, knowing they cannot be fired, just sit and collect their salaries for 40 years. “I don’t care if they learn,” a teacher is quoted saying in the film. What? You don’t care if your charges learn? But that’s your calling. It’s like a physician saying, “I don’t care if my patients die.”

In most professions, one is held to a simple standard: one does a good job, one gets paid. One does a bad job, one gets fired. Joe Hernandez, a retired principal and a friend of mine, once explained to me that the firing of a bad teacher is so Byzantine that principals have given up trying. Hurrah for the Teachers’ Union! They win another battle. But the battlefield is littered with the destroyed lives of children who give up on themselves because some teachers have given up on them.

How to fix it?

The good news is that not all teachers give up. These teachers are proving that children of all races, religions, and social classes can learn if held to a high standard. The film shows that this is happening in some of the worst school districts in the country. An African American principal, Geoffrey Canada, who came from a poor family and through his efforts graduated from a prestigious Ivy League university, requested to be given the worst school in his area. Then, he made a promise to parents and students that his teachers would see their students from kindergarten to college. And he and his teachers are doing it!

Proof enough that it doesn’t matter what color you are or how rich you are; if you have great teachers you will have great students. His is a charter school that gives him the right to hire and fire as necessary. He says that a bad teacher barely covers 50% of the required curriculum and a good teacher covers 150%.

The teaching profession is a difficult one. But who said it was easy? Firemen know theirs is a difficult profession too. Should they give up and let the houses and forests burn? Learning is difficult too, but it can be a magical experience when a caring, committed, and skillful teacher practices it.

Please! Teachers out there! Don’t give up on yourselves and your students. Don’t sit like a sloth and collect a pay you don’t deserve. Get out of the profession and try another one that excites you and rewards you. Leave the classroom to those angels who care enough about the kids to reach the unreachable star!

Oh, yes. The name of the film is Waiting for Superman. (CLICK THE LINK FOR A PREVIEW!) Go see it! If you’re a bad teacher it might just shake you up enough that you will become a good teacher. If you are a good teacher, it will inspire you to greater heights. I guarantee it! This film will touch the hardest heart and it will melt the sweetest soul. Go see it! Now!

Do it for the children!

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