Tag: waiting for superman

Cloning “Superman”

We all know there are too few good schools and too many lousy ones. The trouble is, we lack a mechanism for reliably scaling up the former and crowding out the latter. Competitive markets perform this service in other fields, from coffee-shops to cell phones. Can the same thing work in education?

To find out, we’ve invited experts from both hemispheres to tell us what their nations have learned from decades of experience with private-school choice. Peje Emilsson founded the largest chain of for-profit private schools in Sweden’s nationwide voucher program. Humberto Santos has studied the academic performance of public schools, independent private schools, and chains of private schools in Chile’s voucher program. Responding to their findings and asking challenging questions will be Education Week journalist Sarah Sparks.

I hope you can join us for this fascinating discussion, and lunch, at noon on January 28th. Click here to register. The sooner we can stop “Waiting for Superman,” the better.

Warner Brothers Distributes “The Cartel”

Early this year, when I heard that Paramount had picked up the education documentary “Waiting for Superman” after its award winning appearance at the Sundance Film Festival, I was honestly surprised. The film is not kind to the status quo education monopoly in this country, and Hollywood does not have a history of indicting that system as a whole. But its director was an Obama-supporting, “Inconvenient Truth” shooting Democrat who perhaps, I thought, had made the message palatable to the Left Coast establishment. It didn’t necessarily portend a fundamental change in Hollywood’s tastes.

But that was months ago. Times change. Yesterday I learned from Bob Bowdon, director of the brutally candid education expose “The Cartel” that his film has been picked up for distribution by Warner Brothers Studios. It’s now available not just for sale but instant viewing on Amazon.com.

Remember 2010. It’s the year Americans finally started to tear down education’s Berlin Wall.

How the Teachers Union Was Tougher than Microsoft

Joel Klein was able to impose his will on the Microsoft Corporation, much to consumers’ detriment, but he made less headway against the Education Blob. Perhaps ironically for someone who had served as an antitrust enforcer, his first great accomplishment as chancellor of the New York City schools was to centralize control in his own office. Calculating test scores accurately revealed that they barely budged during his eight-year tenure. As for the “rubber rooms,” where teachers accused of gross misconduct sit around for months or years, drawing full pay – made famous in the documentaries “The Rubber Room” and “Waiting for ‘Superman’” – Klein got them formally eliminated. But teachers who can’t be fired are now making six figures for doing clerical work. Maybe, in the words of “Waiting for Superman,” Klein changed the system from “rubber rooms” to “dance of the lemons.”