The movie, Waiting for Superman by director, Davis Guggenheim won an Oscar for his film, An Inconvenient Truth. In exploring the deplorables of the public school system, Waiting for Superman follows five school children and their families, who are trying to get their child into Charter schools through lotteries. Four of the kids are from inner cities and one from the suburbs. The subject matter tackles the very fundamentals on our approach in education, funding and leadership. The concept of the documentary falls under the precept that the United States laws of parens patriae concerning the public school system.
If anything, the focus on children and their futures puts the issues of parenting, government responsibilities and social activism to the forefront of American minds. The ideas of parens patriae, which is latin for "parent of the nation," requires citizens to accept personal responsibilities for the welfare of our own children and the public school system so therefore, knowledge is power. The Founding Fathers implemented the concepts of equality, freedom and justice but modern society has set those values aside in comparison to time, equity and comprehension. U.S. history is testimonial to this with the equality of rights finally obtained for a minority group within the last 60 years but hey, they aren't victims of the system nor been victimized for hundreds of years. Public denial is the general rule of thumb.
I have yet to see the film but I wonder if the subject of the various States' lotteries are discussed. I find more people interested in the possible return of the State's lotteries than the educational system of this country. The mindset being living on a pipe dreams with an instantaneous solution to what ails us - which is lack of empowerment. The money dividends within lottery winnings is more freedom, security and the ability for unyielding generosity or perhaps power. In the public school system, often teachers cite lack of funding as a main source of restriction for their teaching skills. Sadly, the funds of a multi-state lottery can reach excesses to over half a billion dollars.
Many of us send our children to school with the hopes of making a better future than the ones of their parents but so many of us are still learning about our world. We are aware of new findings of what was previously considered important as less important. One completely free documentary is the Yann Arthus-Bertrand film, Home dealing with the education of our environment. Children and adults are reaching new heights in priorities, learning tools and skills and beginning to put things into correct perspective. One major outcome of it all is in the voices of children.
In recent research, the questioning of our children's abilities to compete with the global world has led to more serious consideration for today's youths. Globalization gives people evidence of the disparities of the world. In many statistics, children in the U.S. fall far behind those in China and India in I.Q.'s and China will become the number one English speaking country with the highest population in the world. The video Did You Know: Shift Happens gives statistics on the U.S. and where in the world we stand. While one Youtube user said, "Finally, a G-rated video I can use to scare my grandma!" is a true assessment of today's times.
Educator, Charles Sykes also deals with the issue of public schools and American children in his books, Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves But Can't Read, Write or Add. His previous book, A Nation of Victims: The Decay of the American Character explores a culture of victims that's filtered down to the essence of society from minorities to the middle class, to the working class and to the academias. The main message is apathy and not so much sympathy for the political entities that placed society into its unwritten roles. Sykes addresses the issue of helplessness and grandiosity that seem to go hand in hand and is being passed down to our children. In order for children to rise above, they must attend higher education.
Although, much of higher ed specializes on specific learning, the basic core classes are often the same subjects taught in high school but elaborated on in college. Why do something twice when it can be done right in the first place? The statistics for Waiting for Superman states that 1.2 million U.S. students drop out of high school each year and American teenagers rank toward the bottom in math and science among 30 developed nations. While statistics are staggering for the high school dropout, their fates are not set in stone and the negative media often perpetuates a myth in learning aptitudes of the average student. The education of other global countries were quick to jump on the band wagon for industrialization of their countries and knew what to teach their students which is the reason for their rapid rise in education. In addition strong study skills without American cultural influences, like television, computers, cell phones, video games, etc., is essentially about time management and dependent on age, supervision. These things are within a parent's control not a child's. The adult culture of the U.S. is a bi-product of technological numbing through consumerism. Which eventually led to these chains of events.
Bill Gates is a strong advocate of the film, Waiting for Superman but it must be asked then why are we waiting? As it is according to Learningpartnership.org, the three richest people in the world own assets that exceed the combined gross national product of all least developed countries and its 600 million people, one of these people being Bill Gates. Though, his increase in world affairs and knowledge of today's times has also made Gates a major proponent of social change, increasing awareness and development of organizations aimed to filter equality across the board. His efforts should be applauded. Each of us can learn to earn to work for change to build a better future, if not for ourselves but for the younger generations, it's now rather a matter of choice.
In the most successful kids of today, they are pulling in double overtime as a child contrasting the childhoods of their parents generation. These kids who have multiple extracurricular activities and honor students are pushing that bar even higher for the "average" student. Parents often are making it full time work just to keep up with their children's lifestyles. The type of child I refer to is the one who goes to afterschool sports, participates during the off season in a community sports groups and attends some other artistic hobbies, like band, drama or dance. They are children whose grades are rarely in question and often pushing to be in advance placement or taking college courses while still in high school. Some might question and label them as over-achievers. However, they are often harried and it begs to question their future in the massive rush to get ahead but often parent's give their children these choices. The parents are also trying to keep up with the times. Children must be superheroes not waiting on Superman.