I'm posting a review from the New York Times of a new documentary on failing public schools in America (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/24/movies/24waiting.html?src=me). The film is playing at Amherst Cinema and I encourage everyone interested in educational issues to see the movie. The documentary highlights the efforts of Geoffrey Canada, the founder of the Harlem Children's Zone, and Michelle Rhee, Chancellor of the Washington, DC schools, to reform public education in America.
The documentary brings up many controversial issues around and approaches to education reform, and is creating significant discussion across America. Amherst schools of course do not face the considerable problems seen in the NYC and DC public schools. However, the topics the film addresses, the achievement gap, charter schools, and the role of teacher evaluation and teachers unions in education, are all being played out in Amherst as well as the big cities.
I haven't yet seen the film, and I am not endorsing or criticizing any of the positions or politics explored in the film. Like anything that points out faults in our education system the film has been heavily criticized for being anti-teacher, anti-union, pro-charter school and all together too negative. On the other hand it has been celebrated for finally talking openly about the crisis in American education that should have been addressed years ago. I hope that the film might provide some insight and inspiration as we examine the issues around public education in our town.
My Goal in Blogging
I started this blog in May of 2008, shortly after my election to the School Committee, because I believed it was very important to both provide the community with an opportunity to share their thoughts with me about our schools and to provide me with an opportunity for me to ask questions and share my thoughts and reasoning. I have found the conversation generated on my blog to be extremely helpful to me in learning community views on many issues. I appreciate the many people who have taken the time to share their views. I believe it is critical to the quality of our public schools to have a public discussion of our community priorities, concerns and aspirations.