media
October 12, 2010

'Waiting for Superman' fails to offer meaningful solutions to complex problems

Source: NYSUT Media Relations

Following is an exerpt of an opinion piece written by Karen Magee, president of the Harrison Association of Teachers. The letter to the editor appeared in the Sunday, Oct. 10 edition of the Westchester-Rockland Journal News as a response to the recently released documentary Waiting for Superman.

What's perhaps saddest, however, is that "Superman" moviegoers never see the amazing dedication of teachers in both regular and charter schools - including phenomenal unionized charter school teachers represented by NYSUT - who roll up their sleeves every day, against enormous challenges, because they are committed to the principle of a quality education for every child. Nor do moviegoers learn that unions like NYSUT are at the vanguard of reform, successfully working this past spring for a new law that requires fairer, more objective teacher evaluations that stress support and continuous improvement over a punitive approach.

While shooting in New York City, director Davis Guggenheim could have balanced his movie with a few scenes of Pat Mangan, an English teacher and basketball coach at Frederick Douglass Academy, a jewel of a public school in Harlem. Mangan requires all his players, mostly African-American and Latino, to attend mandatory study halls in the fall and tutoring sessions in the spring. He expects every player on his team to be a student first, to graduate, and to go to college - and he works with their parents to ensure they fill out financial aid forms and mail in college applications.

Mangan and others like him didn't neatly fit in Guggenheim's script. Yet, the presence of thousands of teachers like Pat Mangan - in Harlem, my own Harrison, as well as urban Yonkers and Mount Vernon and suburban Chappaqua and Byram Hills - are making a difference in the lives of their students.

You can read the entire op-ed (and join in on the discussion) at http://www.lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=201010100351 .

Learn more about Waiting for Superman at aft.org and nea.org.