Waiting for Superman
I FINALLY saw this movie, almost two years after it came out and I have mixed feelings behind it.
The movie follows four kids and their families, all of them in hopes of a better education, entering charter school lotteries. Of course the movie is about more than just that, it’s about the school system, teachers, etc. But I definitely connected with the kids and their families and the ending left me heartbroken, asking me what can I do & why should I care, as an urbanism advocate?
I’ve stated before that I’m city born and raised, attended public schools and local public colleges. I realize I was fortunate enough to receive a quality education within one of the worst districts in the state of Ohio, and that largely had to do with me being self-motivated, coming from a home focused on education and being enrolled in the district’s gifted and talented program, which allowed me to take honors classes. I was placed on the college prep ‘track’ early on. I do realize, however, many of my counterparts/classmates at my high school and in other high schools across the district weren’t as lucky.
Again, why should I care?
Well urbanism is mainly focused around developing sustainable & livable cities for people to live, work and play in while being responsible stewards of the environment.
Most people move out to the suburbs for better school districts, better neighborhoods, more space for their kids to run around in. Better schools usually mean higher home values (usually, not always).
How do you attract families to a city if your schools are failing?
Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) has been losing students for quite some time now, probably since around the year 2000, just when charter schools were becoming popular in the Northeast Ohio region.
At its’ peak, CMSD had 77,000 students enrolled. It now has a little over 44,000 students enrolled in its’ 112 schools, according to the website. Many of the district’s former students have either moved out of the district or enrolled in the many charter schools in the region.
CMSD has a graduation rate of a little over 50%, and on the latest academic state report card, the district is in academic watch, an improvement from the previous academic emergency status.
How do you ensure that students in a large school district with layoffs and overcrowded classrooms with teachers who are guaranteed tenure after x amount of years receive a quality education?
That seems to be the million dollar question.
If you want more families to move into an urban area and stay there, you MUST have good schools. Otherwise, parents are either more likely to send their kids to private schools or opt for the suburbs where they can send their kids to better schools for free.
Waiting for Superman leaves me with mixed feelings because it highlighted four families trying to get into charter schools.
What about the kids left behind in public schools? What about the public schools that are working? How can you duplicate those success stories in public schools and fix the broken public school systems?
There’s a ton of other questions I have…but it’s enough to leave me wondering what I can do to find some answers.