Assessment Opinion

Waiting for Guggenheim: Will he Respond to Teachers?

By Anthony Cody — December 06, 2010 3 min read
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A few weeks ago I shared feedback that was left by teachers for Davis Guggenheim, who asked us to let him know what we thought about his movie, Waiting For Superman. At the time, about fifty teachers had left comments. Today, three weeks later, more than ninety comments have been left.

Update: Today, December 9, Davis Guggenheim posted a response thanking teachers for their comments. He offers a specific response to two on the 90 plus teachers who took the time to write him with their feedback. See what you think.

Because this film has received such a tremendous amount of publicity (including $2 million to promote it from the Gates Foundation), I feel the response of teachers needs to be heard. Davis Guggenheim said he really wanted to hear as well. However, he has yet to return to Huffington Post to respond to any of us who left our comments. Will he respond? We are waiting for Guggenheim.

Zoey14 writes:
Although I have chosen to send my own children to a public school, I am guilty of choosing a “better” school than that in which I currently teach. The children in my current school come from low socioeconomic backgrounds, have no preschool experience¬s, and have no basic academic or social skills upon entering kindergarten. My daughters have two full years of preschool and are growing up in a print-rich environment in which literacy and academic achievement are emphasized. My colleagues who teach kindergarten at my school consider it a successful day if no one eats a crayon, hits another student, or rips a book apart. My own children have entered school AT LEAST 3 years ahead of these students in terms of social skills and academics. And just getting rid of “bad teachers” will alleviate this problem?? This is what teachers are dealing with. We can’t go into the homes of these children and force their parents to read to them. We can’t force parents to teach the values of hard work, discipline, cooperation, and other social skills that allow for success in school.

The “achievement gap” in so-called low performing schools doesn’t just magically appear because the system is full of bad teachers who can’t teach reading and math. It starts much, much earlier and is far more complex than that, and we’re doing the best we can with the kids who come to us. As others have stated, we need to deal with the disease - poverty.

Hot Pierogi writes:
You will fall on the wrong side of history. If this charter movement takes tighter hold, more schools will be privatized and run for a profit. The poorest neighborhoods will be robbed blind by big business charter schools who take the average daily attendance money, underpay and overwork young teachers, in order to pay the rest to their top dogs. If corporations were so interested in great schools,they would pay taxes and fund a great society. You appear to be an enemy of labor. You might want to watch an actual documentary, made by people with probing intellect, called “The End of Poverty?” and ask yourself if you really believe that corporations have poor children’s interest at heart - over those of us teachers who have lived very modest existences and given our hearts to do the job right. Poor children will be burned at the hands of this charter movement and this test score nonsense, which pushes a type of education that no affluent person would ever subject their children to. You so completely dramatized/staged “reality” in this movie that it caused me to question “An Inconvenient Truth.” However, unlike this movie, “An Inconvenient Truth” has actual research and science on its side. This was not a documentary but an often staged piece of reality t.v.

Hot Pierogi continues,
Even if Davis Guggenheim didn’t do a lot of research into what it’s like to be a teacher, he has gotten a taste of our experience; he has been lambasted on his blog. After having one of your movies picked apart by teachers. Diane Ravitch and more, imagine, Mr. Guggenheim, what it is like, to have your whole career dismissed by people such as yourself -- by people who consider themselves experts on your profession, but have no experience or education in the field. You told us what you really thought, and we have returned the favor. Got anything to say? I hope you haven’t given up reading. We’ve endured years of scapegoating now, even had our names released by the Los Angeles Times as “less effective teachers” for anyone who has ever known us to see, and we’re still standing. Do you think you’d have the stomach for our business? To listen to all the hatred for a top price of 70K per year?

What do you think? Will Davis Guggenheim respond to teachers? What do you have to say to him?

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