To the Editor:
I shed more than a few tears for the kids who weren’t “winners” in the school lotteries filmed in the much-discussed documentary “Waiting For ‘Superman’ ” (“Anticipation and Controversy Surround ‘Superman’ Release”, Sept. 1, 2010). But I was even more saddened that the film did not leave me optimistic about any miraculous transformation of America’s schools.
I know that despite the 15-hour days I worked to transform myself from a terrible teacher (1965-1970) to a terrific teacher (1970-2003), my classes always included some students who, despite my best efforts, just wouldn’t listen, follow directions, do their homework, and try. On a class outing in 1991, a student-made banner for the Mets game we were attending transformed my likeness into Superman. I subsequently used it to inspire my class to be “SuperStudents.” But I knew that not all of them would be willing to put in the necessary time and effort to excel.
So, blaming all the problems of America’s schools on teachers and their unions is not “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” And I’m sorry if that’s “An Inconvenient Truth” for Davis Guggenheim—the director of both the film by that name and “Waiting For ‘Superman’”—to hear.
A version of this article appeared in the October 27, 2010 edition of Education Week as Tears at ‘Superman’ Weren’t Only for Kids