Sunday, March 13, 2011

Thoughts on "Waiting for Superman"

Watched this documentary about five students' attempts to enroll in charter schools in various cities across the country.  One wins the lottery, another gets in via waiting list and the other three -- well, tough luck kid but we have a failing public school that has a guaranteed spot for you. 

From an economic standpoint, the most frustrating aspect of the movie is that there is clear excess demand for innovative, academically-focused schools but school boards across the country fail to provide such schools.  We see the same thing here in Wake County with Raleigh Charter and magnet schools such as Enloe.  I wonder what will happen in Wake County once we finally have a new student assignment plan -- will regular schools start to offer courses currently restricted to magnets? 

I do not pretend to be an expert in education research, but I am skeptical of the movie's persistent claim that "we know what works."  This would be a first in any field of social science research.  It is heartening to see academically successful schools in tough neighborhoods.  But I am skeptical about how much this can be scaled.  The parents of these five students really cared about their children's education.  Not all do. 

One labor market quibble: there was a graphic that claimed we would more than double the number of high-paying high-tech STEM jobs if the public schools would simply supply enough tech-savvy graduates -- not sure where they got that.

I give the movie a "thumbs up;" I hope the issues it raises get a wide airing.

No comments:

Post a Comment