Friday, September 17, 2010

Educational Reform Documentaries

There are two new documentaries on education that are coming out this fall.  One, entitled "Waiting for Superman," is by the director of "An Inconvenient Truth."  It is supposed to be a similar call to action, this time to reform the public school systems, particularly those that serve minority urban youth.  It includes an interview with Michele Rhee, the iconoclastic reformer who has been rebuilding the Washington DC school system, widely seen as perhaps the worst school system in the country.  (Unfortunately, she is aligned politically with the current DC mayor, Mayor Fenty, who just lost his bid for a second term in the Democratic primaries, so there is no telling what will happen to the changes she has been putting in place.)

One interesting statistic from that film:  While American student rank low--and continue to decrease--on most academic skill measurements, such as literacy, math competency, science knowledge, etc.--the one category in which the US ranks #1 is....self-confidence.

See the trailer and more information at:

Another film that is coming out is called "Race to Nowhere."  This movie talks about the incredible pressure put upon our children to perform by high-stakes testing, competition within classes, and the theory that their future will be determined by their success (or failure) in getting into a highly-competitive university.  According to the director, this stress is resulting in ever-increasing rates of suicide, cheating, depression, and ways of rejecting the educational system.

Again, for more information and the trailer, see:

A friend alerted me to another film that came out last year, but that deals with similar theme.  This documentary, called "The War on Kids," talks about the ways that "no tolerance" rules and other policies in public school systems are turning them into institutions that resemble prisons.  The website for this movie is:

Full disclosure:  I haven't seen any of this films.  But I would like to do so.  They all seem to be raising important question that we should be dealing with, both as families and as a society.

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