Last night I watched a documentary about the public education system. My brain was running and I couldn’t go to sleep so I wrote this:
Well it is 1:38am and my blood is hot. I just finished watching Waiting for Superman, a documentary on the U.S public education system. Most of the information wasn’t new, I sit in class and discuss many of these topics daily. But there is something about seeing real peoples lives on screen that makes things so much more impactful…and emotional.
The education system just isn’t fair. At all. It’s not fair that every child doesn’t have access to an equal education. It’s not fair that parents have to search far and wide for a decent school. It’s not fair that perpetual structural inequality inhibits families from certain schools. It’s not fair that there are obvious issues with education policy but so many people are standing in the way of change. It is not fair. Our children deserve more.
I am personally very curious about charter schools. I look over at the Harlem Children Zone, and think their education pipeline model is genius. I look at KIPP schools and think their ability to scale is incredible. Then I do what all my professors drill in our heads, read the research. See “if it is working.” For some charter schools yes, they are doing better than the average public school in terms of standardized testing. But for others, not so much. I wrestle with the idea that all evaluations have to come down to standardized testing. Do the kids in the Harlem Children Zone have a more positive outlook on learning? Probably. Are the kids in the Harlem Children Zone more emotionally stable? Maybe. Do they have higher expectations forthemselves? Are they safer? Do they have access to more resources, more support? Evaluations comparing standardized testing is one thing, but you can’t tell me everything else I listed is not important, and beneficial to the development of a child.
I cry of happiness when I see the faces of students and parents who get their name called in the charter school admission lottery. I also cry tears of sadness for those who are subjected to their local inner city public school. I get pissed when I hear that there are millions of dollars going to teachers who straight up suck a their job but can’t be fired due to tenure. I get pissed when union groups ignore the fact that teaching the kids of the future is a privilege, not a right you acquire after two years.
This documentary leaves me with many thoughts I have been wrestling in my Youth & Social Innovation classes. A major structured around Positive Youth Development theory, and the application of such through education, after-school programs, and research. I don’t know how to fix things. I have plenty of ideas trust me, but there are structures and policies that get in the way of progress. I try to stay positive, but this semester so far has left me very frustrated, yet very inspired. There is so much room for change, and every day I get to sit in classrooms with some of the most genius, innovative (lols) people I know. From frustration comes focus, drive, and perseverance. But one step at a time right? I can’t save the world yet, I have a midterm to study for..