I just read about a film that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and has been picked up by Paramount. Called Waiting for Superman, the documentary was created by the same guy who did 'An Inconvenient Truth'. It is a documentary about the flawed and failing public education system.
Being a teacher, especially one in an urban school, I am used to hearing how screwed up the entire system is. I have grown accustomed to hearing quick fixes - it's about having good teachers, it's about building strong relationships, it's about preparing for the test, it's about not teaching to the test, it's about character education, it's about rapport, it's about regiment - I could go on. So when I read the description of the documentary and a few short articles that were analyzing why Paramount picked up the film I expected to hear more of the same. But this film seems like it might get at the real issue - it goes after the unions.
It is not a quick fix to say 'get rid of the NEA.' It actually would reveal some tremendous holes in every school. Teachers would no longer be protected simply because of experience, teachers would have motivation to improve every year, the tests would be shown as an inaccurate measurement of growth...OR teachers would become protected by connections more than quality, teachers would have more motivation to cheat on tests to obtain more money, and the tests would stay the same.
Surely a quality documentary will explore the alternatives to a system controlled by the union. That is why I want to see it. I would love to see this option actually explored. Not because I think the disappearance of the union would be an immediate solution but because I think the abolition of the NEA would force people to hammer out bigger issues.
I think it could lead to much better education for my students - therefore I hope the film shines a light on a problem that is commonly brought up and rarely taken seriously.