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I really love your blog. I look for it every day. I look forward to updates on the puppies and the remodel. I even love when you get angry with the world and just bitch. I have worked on and given up on my teaching degree more than 3 times now. I haven't seen this documentary yet but all of a sudden I feel like I am huge fucking failure to not only myself but to a generation waiting.

I know! Me too! Thats why I put off seeing the movie for so long. Of course, I dont mean to make you or me or anyone feel bad. I mean to nudge us all into some kind of action-- as little as calling or emailing our legislators or donating to a fund that teachers can use to buy supplies for their classrooms. Im not expecting anyone-- including myself-- to give up our lives or goals. Just to think about what we, individually, can do. But for goodness sake, dont feel bad! (I, for example, feel quite sure Im not meant to be a teacher as my profession. Im cool with that. But that means I have to work a little harder to find other ways to make a difference, thats all.)

I work as an attorney in the juvenile delinquency field - the same kids that are on the edge at these failing schools.

It drives me nuts when people blame the teachers, lack of funding, etc. I agree there are bad teachers and there is wide variation on district funding, but from what I see everyday, it boils down to poor parenting. These parents don't value their kids' education and thus the kids don't either. These kids act a fool because they get away with it at home, they don't do their homework because they get away with it at home, they have no hope because there is no hope at home.

I don't know what the answer is...

I am not a fan of the WAITING documentary because it puts the blame (and solution) on the teachers, the Superhero mantle on charter schools, and I think it just makes teachers' jobs harder in this current anti-education, anti-teacher, anti-thinking culture.

Charter schools are not the end-all-be-all answer. I'm looking at you, Chicago. (And you, Arne Duncan. And you, President Obama.) WBEZ.org -- Chicago's NPR affiliate -- has a series on local charter school performance running this week. Very mixed results.

We ARE failing our kids, but I don't think it's the school so much as the society. What do you expect when so much of the nation characterizes teaching as something only loser/flunkies do because they can't "make it" in the private sector? When a single day of testing becomes the data point by which that child and all those around him/her are judged? I am by no means saying the public school model is infallible, or that all teachers are awesome... just that people have let themselves be talked into fighting the wrong enemy.

If anyone wants a great primer on the current issues in education, check out the ASCD.org website and its "Whole Child Initiative": http://www.wholechildeducation.org/take-action/national-res/house/

I *always* learn something new from this organization.

There is also Edutopia.org (George Lucas Educational Foundation) which I find to be more pie-in-the-sky than practical for teachers working with low socio-economic populations, but dreaming is good.

I too have been putting off seeing this documentary. Not really sure why.

I've experienced public schools when my adult kids were little. Every one of them spent 12 yrs in the public school.

Now, I cannot imagine putting my 9yr old and 7yr old into that system. They've both been at the same private school since preschool.

One difference? I can tell you I have a 7yr old son who can read and spell 100x better than his 25yr old sister. When his sister was his age, her reading grades were fine....I (strong emphasis on I), had to go to the teacher and say "How can you keep giving her an A in reading?? She can't read worth a crap!". We bought Hooked on Phonics that summer and I was able to get her where she needed to be.

Speaking of the HoP, I used it later that next year with a 5th grade student the school asked me to help. I volunteered a lot at the school and they knew I had the whole HoP program. I came in, set up the books, got out the tape recorder only to find out that this 5th grade boy couldn't even recognize the letters in the alphabet. I went to this principal and had a melt down. HOW CAN THIS CHILD HAVE MADE IT ALL THE WAY TO 5TH GRADE!!!!! He wasn't in any sort of special ed program or anything. He did seem to bounce around to different schools though. Never once saw his parents at the school. How do you read your history book or your science book etc etc etc???? You have to read to do anything!

I have several friends who are teachers. I have a daughter-in-law who is one as well. I've heard horror stories. Most of the stories are centered around troubled kids whose parents are not involved in their education.

I don't know what the answer is. I wish I did. It's very sad.

i am only qualified to discuss education situation in louisiana. it stinks. i have experience w/private & public school and i would honest to god take a bullet for most of the teachers my children were lucky enough to have. i'm in awe of their dedication, their sacrifice, their genuine caring (even after graduation) and their skill. i learned so much, too much sometimes. our system tenures a teacher after 3 years (even the ones w/o a degree) and you cannot dynamite them out for continued poor performance. the school board is not a positive force-'we will form a committee & look into it'...geez, how many times did i hear that. meanwhile, failing schools have ineffective teachers. there is no after school program for children who are not being parented...and hey, if you don't think that's in your wheelhouse..you'd be wrong. these kids need help, guidance and some stability, not to mention a meal...the dropout rate is astounding and where do these kids end up? you know where. the education system is so flawed and no one really seems to care about the children. i do a lot of volunteer work with children and they just need a kind word, guidance and sometimes a hug. form a committee my ass...these people need to get off their asses and start from scratch.
one of my sons participated in a teach for america project in baton rouge this past summer...amazing experience..school make-over..he was blown away-really made a difference in his life. i don't have answers but if moms and wannabe moms ruled the world...

My husband and I are both teachers and we ask each other everyday - Why aren't the parents held more accountable???? We have high expectations for our son and hold him to it!!! Why is it only up to the teachers??? What about all the parents that don't spend time reading with their children, or making sure their children have food before they have cigarettes or alcohol. Why is it always the teachers who are to blame because children come to school hungry and tired and can't focus. Our country is in a sad place.

Really enjoy your blog.
A good teacher gives so much of themselves- their impact can life changing.

heidi-thank you & your husband for your service and i'm sorry you are being blamed for a problem that you have no control over. my sons attended the #1 magnet h.s. in our state & across & down the street from it was a housing project that i got to know quite well. children from a nearby elementary school passed me every day while i sat in the carpool line. rain or shine these kids were walking. winter came and some had coats,some did not. an older woman in the neighborhood & i developed a system & for 4 years these kids had coats & snacks. i gave rides sometimes & there is no way in hell most of the adults there could even read themselves much less to a child. these adults are not held accountable because our system has made them that way. when the welfare check is larger than a salary, then who wants to work? they are not made to go to school and they could care less if their kids thrive. we must change our system, it's killing our kids & their dreams. you and i must hug them as well as our own for the time being but you already know that. thanks for teaching & i hope you have good room mothers-it's a team effort if there ever was one.

Thank you Jerie!!! We give hugs and extra time and smiles and snacks etc. Who will be the one to make this change??? I think the politicians are blind to the real issues that I fear this will never change. I also fear for the senior citizens who can't pay for education and are worried about their own welfare. The problems are deeper than education and teachers and you are right, we all need to work together.


Diane Ravitch talks about "Waiting for Superman" and teaching.

I am quite sure you were a great teacher! And thanks for the great and eye-opening post. xo

Also check out "Race to Nowhere," a documentary by a northern California mom who realized her kids were totally stressed out due to the public school system - it's an awesome film. You can find a viewing near you at this website: http://www.racetonowhere.com/. It's currently sweeping the nation....hopefully, it will help more people understand how broken our school system is and what they can do to help fix it.

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