I haven’t seen Waiting for Superman. I didn’t watch the report on MSNBC yesterday and the Town Hall meeting. I didn’t even follow the commentary on Twitter with my colleagues. I’m not sure what Education Nation is all about at this point. I don’t need Oprah to tell me that there are things about our public (and private) education system that aren’t working for our kids. Teachers, parents and students have been saying that for years. Yet, Superman isn’t the answer.
Now, I’m not a comic book person. I can’t see that I’ve seen any of the ump-teen Superman movies in their entirety, but I was a fan of The Justice League on Saturday morning cartoons. I will not argue the fact that Superman comes to the rescue and saves Metropolis countless times on the big and small screen and on newsprint pages around the world. But there are few things that I would like to point out about the idea of Superman that will certainly NOT save education.
Superman works alone. Superman doesn’t even have a sidekick. He hides his real identity from the world and toils away each day in a pretend job just waiting to be called to fix a situation. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate his intentions to protect the world from evil, but this won’t work for kids. Over the past several decades, people, programs and propoganda have swooped in to save the day countless times. Not one of these theories has made a significant, long-term impact on the education system in the United States. No one person or idea is going to help our children.
Superman doesn’t share secrets. Superman can’t be everywhere at once, but if he would have found a way to share his powers and his secrets, imagine the greater good he could have offered. Real reform is going to come in the form of waves of citizen groups who stand up to fight for our schools together, not in anonymous isolation from one another.
The trouble always comes back. Superman doesn’t help stop the problems until they are already too big to be managed and the same issues keep arising. I mean, how many episodes does Lex Luther have to be in before Superman realizes that something he’s doing to eliminate the problem isn’t actually doing that? If Superman has to save the day more than once, he hasn’t really saved it, he has just prolonged the problem. If we put a solution for our schools into play, and the problem is only fixed for a few months, days or years, then it isn’t solved.
I am all for reform of public schools and education in the United States, but Superman isn’t the one to save us. If we are, in fact, waiting for Superman, we have a bigger problem than what we are facing now.
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