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Waiting For Superman

Posted: Mon Sep 13, 2010 8:50 am
Davis Guggenheim hopes that his latest documentary will do for the U.S. public education system what one of his previous films – “An Inconvenient Truth” – did for climate change.

The makers of Waiting for “Superman” also say that the documentary, shown Saturday as part of the Toronto International Film Festival, should serve as a warning to Canadians.

The candid panel discussion that followed — which included Guggenheim, superstar educational activist Geoffrey Canada, and Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates — turned up the voltage on an already powerful film. ... for-canada

Re: Waiting For Superman

Posted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 11:23 am
by Susan Godsland
Follow up to the showing of the film here:

http://www.societyforqualityeducation.o ... ryptonite/
OISE professor Jane Gaskell slams charter schools and asks that it is time "to stop importing American beliefs about education into Canada." Would that were true before we imported whole language, fuzzy math, and other constructivist and progressive fads, that had been first tried and then failed in American schools, yet still encouraged by the very institution she once headed!

Re: Waiting For Superman

Posted: Tue Sep 21, 2010 4:47 pm

Re: Waiting For Superman

Posted: Thu Sep 23, 2010 2:39 pm
“Cracking the Code,” or Ed Reformers on Crack?

It’s great that more Americans are going to learn about promising education reform strategies, and the various ways that the teachers unions and the rest of the education blob tries to strangle them in their crib. But let’s put that “we know what works” talk back in the bottle, where it belongs. We’re a few steps into a long journey, and the more humility we bring along with us, the better. ... -on-crack/

Re: Waiting For Superman

Posted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 9:15 pm
by palisadesk
The USA blogger RicK Hess -- a difficult fellow to pigeonhole, neither "left " nor "right" but an insightful and articulate observer of the school reform scene -- has an amusing (half in jest, all in earnest) take on "Waiting for Superman" here which is a follow-up to Mike Petrilli's piece cited by Jim above. ... ience.html

Susan S.

Re: Waiting For Superman

Posted: Sat Sep 25, 2010 10:33 am
Thanks Susan, for this link. I also found the comments very interesting to read. Here's one in particular that provided food for thought.

'Today’s miracle cure is very likely tomorrow’s nightmare; we would do well to remember that the Nobel Prize was awarded in 1949 to Egas Moniz for discovering the lobotomy as a “cure for depression'

Re: Waiting For Superman

Posted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 12:30 pm
Can Geoffrey Canada rescue America's ailing schools? Barack Obama hopes soGeoffrey Canada has won over Barack Obama with his academies in Harlem, Manhattan's poorest district, and last week he wowed the Tory conference with his school revolution. But, critics warn, his reforms are expensive - and anti-union ... revolution

Re: Waiting For Superman

Posted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 5:26 pm
by g.carter
Thanks, Jim for highlighting this and also Susan for a fascinating link -
a goopy groupthink symbiosis
what a quote!

There's also Ken DeRosa's last two posts on D'Ed Reckoning:

No wonder some of us are tearing our hair out ...

Re: Waiting For Superman

Posted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 8:33 pm
Geraldine, I read the Ken De Rosa blog and was surprised by his claim that poor white children were doing better academically than middle class black American children. We know here from the research carried out by the Sutton Trust and others that poor white children are bottom of the educational pile.

There is a 32 percentage point gap between poor white children and their more advantaged white peers at GCSE. This is wider by far than the academic achievement gap between rich and poor in other minority ethnic groups in a study carried out by Professor Steve Strand. The gap at GCSE between poor Chinese students and their more advantaged Chinese peers was only 5 percentage points.

Re: Waiting For Superman

Posted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 10:56 pm
by yvonne meyer

You appear to have missed Ken de Rosa's point which is that the 'meme' (a cultural unit/idea, value or pattern of behavior that is passed from one person to another by imitation) of poverty (low academic progress is caused by poverty and until we 'fix' Poverty we cannot 'fix' Education) cannot be valid if all Asian students, regardless of socio-economic status, outperform all other students. Poverty/low socio-economic status and/or racism cannot be blamed when Asian students from the lowest to the highest socio-economic levels out-perform all other groups.

The US SAT graphs that de Rosa has published show that the only time that Asian students drop from first to second place is in families below the poverty line. The poorest white children are slightly ahead of the poorest Asian children but the poorest Asian children are still miles ahead of Mexican and Black children. In fact, Mexican families have to reach income levels in the $40-50k bracket before they reach the levels of the POOREST Asian children, and Black families have to reach income levels of $60-70k to reach the same levels as the POOREST Asian children.

Black students have to have parents with Graduate (ie Masters & PhD) degrees before they reach the same levels as Asian students whose parents attended but did not necessarily graduate from high school.

While de Rosa's information is interesting, it is not conclusive. Likewise, the information from the Sutton Trust is interesting but not conclusive.

We can theorise that parental expectation of academic achievment which is probably high in Asian families and probably low in Mexican & Black families is more important to student academic success than poverty but that is a theory that we cannot, as yet, prove to a level of certainty.

The only thing we know for certain is that if our teachers and schools use evidence-based teaching and learning programmes, all students who attend school can be taught to read, write and do maths to the minimum level that they need to function in the adult world. Everything else is conjecture.

Re: Waiting For Superman

Posted: Sun Oct 10, 2010 11:09 pm
by Kiki
yvonne meyer wrote: We can theorise that parental expectation of academic achievment which is probably high in Asian families and probably low in Mexican & Black families is more important to student academic success than poverty but that is a theory that we cannot, as yet, prove to a level of certainty.
I wonder whether it parental expectation, or the lack of it that is at fault at all. I imagine that peer group expectation would be the much greater factor. y that I mean the culture of the peer group, for example gang type culture which is anti-authority, anti-social and certainly anti-education.

Re: Waiting For Superman

Posted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 8:58 am
Yvonne, the point that I was trying to make was that unlike America where poor white children fare somewhat better academically than other groups, this is not the case in England where this group is bottom of the educational pile and I certainly accept Ken DeRosa’s point that it is not all to do with poverty.

Re: Waiting For Superman

Posted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 4:06 pm
by palisadesk
JIM CURRAN wrote:Geraldine, I read the Ken De Rosa blog and was surprised by his claim that poor white children were doing better academically than middle class black American children.
I'm surprised that Jim is surprised: the finding that in the U.S., black students (even middle-class black students) do worse than white students (even low-income white students) is a consistently replicated finding, one that has been reported on and discussed ad nauseam accompanied by hand-wringing and finger-pointing from all quarters for many decades.

Yes, it is a different finding from that in the UK (and in Canada), but something about U.S. culture, society or educational organization seems to perpetuate this trend. One achievement fact that DeRosa does not mention is that achievement of Asian-American students drops over time till by the third generation of American-born Asian students there is little academic achievement advantage. First and second generation Asian students outperform other groups regardless of socio-economic or income levels.

De Rosa is an IQ determinist (I doubt he would dispute this characterization, though he might word it differently) and believes that racial groups and income groups are characterized by different, and fundamentally unchangeable, IQ parameters. This is an oversimplification of the available data, which does not support a view of "intelligence" as a rigidly fixed hereditary factor. Various experts in the field posit "g" (general intelligence factor) as determined approximately 30-60% by genetics (depends on who you ask) and the other 70-40 % by environmental factors, including schooling. Spokespersons for the "genetic determination" camp, including James Watson and Charles Murray (author of the recent Real Education) tend to be ignorant of the parlous state of public schooling for those apparently inferior populations, and not au courant with current research into epigenetics, neuroplasticity, and outlier studies on separated identical twins, as well as non-separated identical twins with significant differences in intellectual development (an interesting topic on its own but tangential here).

Nevertheless, the determinists, like the poor, we will always have with us. "Local conditions" have to take some of the rap, as the data from other countries do not match those in the U.S.. As Jim cites, UK data show poor whites (especially boys) to be consistently the lowest-performing academic cohort. Data from my own district (a large data set, with a quarter million students) show the lowest achieving cohort to be white (European white, not mixed race) and as a group economically middle class to wealthy. Using demographic data, our research department matched income and language/culture/racial factors to individual schools and test data to draw out some very interesting, and counterintuitive, findings:
-- income and racial composition of schools mattered, but culture trumped both
-- many low-income schools had significantly higher achievement than majority middle-class schools
-- when disaggregated by cultural groups, there were significant differences in achievement among racially homogeneous cohorts (whether black, white or Asian)
--targeting lower-income schools with additional programs to support student learning yielded measurable and consistent positive results
--poor kids in the lowest-income neighbourhoods where these programs are in effect are graduating high school and going to (and completing) university with a high rate of success.

The determinism expressed by both the "SES is everything" camp and the "IQ/race is everything" camp is undermined by these findings. The data show that home influences are very important, but that social supports and emphasis on providing excellent school opportunities to disadvantaged kids changes their life trajectories.

Unfortunately, "Waiting for Superman" tends to perpetuate the typically American oversimplified search for a "quick fix" (I'm an American so I can say this). The reasons for social class stratification, racial achievement disparity, multigenerational poverty and a sense of hopelessness are tightly woven into the American social fabric, and are not easily addressed by a simple "solution."

I haven't seen the film yet, but it apparently overlooks some important facts (as does the article on Harlem Children's Zone in the article Jim cited):

-- many U.S. charter schools have poor academic results, worse than their matched neighbourhood schools
-- the Harlem "Promise Academy" featured in the film has poor outcomes in reading, even on the not-very-rigorous state tests (something like 35 % scored "proficient" in reading -- proficient being a very weak bar to cross, far below mastery)
-- Promise Academy junked standardized testing -the well-respected Iowa Test of Basic Skills- when its students did very poorly on it in all key areas. That's not to say that the Promise Academies (there are two) are not doing a good job and may produce excellent results over time -- but their achievements to date are not being given critical scrutiny.
--It's also omitted that the students in the schools are not necessarily, or even mostly, from Harlem! The work of the HCZ -- parenting help, medical services, etc - are definitely a good thing, but may have little or nothing to do with the charter schools, which are open to all residents of NYC.

In short, the reporting on this topic -- Waiting for Superman, the advantages (real or imagined) of charter schools, the success of the Harlem Children's Zone -- is peppered with inaccuracies, wide-eyed credulity and lack of critical analysis. I recommend reading Paul Tough's book, Whatever It Takes, for a more in-depth look at what the HCZ does and his long-term vision for it. But it's much too soon to suggest that anyone has found "the answer." The jury is still out on the success of the HCZ charter schools and the replicability of HCZ efforts to break the cycle of poverty in the U.S.

Susan S.

Re: Waiting For Superman

Posted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 6:41 pm
Thanks Susan for such an interesting and informative post. I recall reading of a study where the children of black American servicemen stationed in Germany during the late 1940’s and early ’50 were IQ tested and their scores were compared with the other American white children on these bases and there was no difference. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to locate this study again to examine the finer details.

Re: Waiting For Superman

Posted: Wed Oct 20, 2010 8:02 am
Can Gove's American dream work here?The education secretary's beloved charter schools have achieved good results for disadvantaged children in the US, but that is not the end of the story.

Does an answer to school reform in England lie in the ideas of two frustrated teachers from Texas? Michael Gove thinks so. In recent speeches, he has praised the Knowledge Is Power Programme (Kipp), which runs charter schools in the US ... er-schools