Archive for July, 2010

I watched a CSPAN Q&A with Madeleine Sackler, director and producer of the 80 minute documentary “The Lottery.” The actual documentary is available on DVD in August, so I haven’t seen that yet.Ā  I was surprised to find that Madeleine graduated from high school in 2001, two years later than I graduated. She’s young!

Eva Moskowitz, the founder of Harlem Success Academy in NY, seems to make many appearances in the film. I saw that some have criticized her for her high salary: over $300K per year. If her schools are extremely successful and she is successfully equipping students with the skills they will need to be stable/productive adults, why the criticism about her salary? Lil’ Wayne and Bret Michaels definitely make much more than Eva, and what are they doing to make society a better place? I’m sure some would argue that those performers are doing something,Ā  but so is Eva Moskowitz. Why criticize her for her salary just because she works in the field of education?

I can understand the fear of people going into the ownership/management of charter schools for profit being alarming because we want education to matter and not have leaders obsessed over personal monetary profits. In this particular case though, I do believe that Eva genuinely cares about the futures of her students, so if she’s making an awesome salary, good for her.

The CSPAN interview is long, about an hour, but it is definitely worth watching.

I checked out the link to a documentary on education called The Lottery . I’m not too sure about this one (haven’t seen it yet, as it is only available in select cities). The documentary appears to follow African American students and their families as they attempt to gain admission to charter schools. Students are placed in a lottery, thus the name of the documentary, and hope that their number is called or they will have to try for another school or stay in their neighborhood school.

I’m a little turned off immediately upon viewing the trailer. The founder of Harlem Success Academy, Eva Moskowitz, opens up the trailer by saying,

“The problem is not the parents; the problem is not the children. The problem is a system that protects academic failure.”

I’m so tired of the blame being taken away from the parents. Yes, I understand that it takes a complicated equation to equal a well-balanced education. Parents are a huge factor and sometimes they are part of the problem. In addition, I disagree with the statement that the system protects academic failure. To me, statements like that are overly biased.Ā  Yes, the system creates academic failure, but protects it? Is that really the best choice of words?

“A hundred percent of our children ace the exam,” exclaims a staff member of a charter school. Now, according to this documentary, charter schools are taking students in based on a lottery, meaning they have to apply in the first place. The majority of these charter school students have motivated, interested parents advocating for their children, so wouldn’t it make sense that students with supportive parents are more likely to ace the exams than students who are left in neighborhood public schools because their parents never sent applications to charter schools?

Yes, we need change. That’s been said and is old news. This film just seems a little too dramatic with wording. Maybe I’ll feel differently once I get a chance to see the entire documentary, if it ever becomes available.

Waiting for Superman film

Posted: July 7, 2010 in Uncategorized

There’s a documentary coming out sometime this coming fall called Waiting for Superman. I write education articles for Examiner (although I haven’t written anything new lately), and I received an email from them saying they are working on getting education reporters access to a free screening of the documentary. Apparently the film displays the problems in the US public education system and then offers some suggestions for reform. I’m sure the film will be captivating, but I’m expecting it to highlight problems that I’m already aware of. The filmmaker is the same guy who put together An Inconvenient Truth.

I saw in the film they have the guy Geoffrey Canada speaking. He’s the CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone. I saw him in some clip in the past that was discussing the “stop snitching” problems.

The Harlem Children’s Zone boasts statistics like, “In 2009, over 87% of Promise Academy 8th graders were at or above grade level on the statewide math exam.” It’ll be interesting to see if they use the school as a model of what reform should look like. If given the chance to go to the screening, I’ll definitely be interested in checking it out.

See the official trailer for the movie here:

A New Blog about Whatever

Posted: July 1, 2010 in Uncategorized

I’ll keep updating this blog about education, but I decided to start up another blog, called journal ramblings. There you can actually see handwritten pages from my journal that I am trying to get back into writing in daily.

Last summer I took a course called the Invitational Summer Institute (ISI) at Towson University. I received 6 graduate credits in 3 weeks. The class was intense. We sat around a table and read our personal journal entries aloud at the beginning of each meeting. The experience was unique and very personal. People cried many times because they were sharing very emotional experiences and memories. I didn’t cry because that’s just not my thing, but the class was invaluable. We wrote handwritten journal entries every day. Of course, we say we’ll continue the new habit after the class has ended, but a year went by and I think I added a total of 2 new entries. I’m hoping that making my journals public will inspire me to write, and maybe inspire others to get back into writing. One is never too old or young to keep a journal.

I don’t really care about comments on my journal ramblings page as much as I do here. I’m not really looking for suggestions/praise/criticism. I only hope that my writing will encourage others to pick a pen up and give their keyboards a rest. There is something peaceful about escaping the confines of font types, the red line under misspelled words, and copying and pasting. I’m going back to good old-fashioned handwriting.