On September 24th, a documentary entitled Waiting for Superman hits theatres. It explores our broken public education system in the U.S. and highlights some of the people, like Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children’s Zone, who have dedicated their lives to making a difference in education. Because education, and specifically public education, is the cause I’m most passionate about, I wanted to use today’s post to encourage people to mark their calendars, see the movie, and get involved.
If we don’t fix public education in the U.S., all of the social programs in the world won’t make a bit of difference in the quality of life here. The generation now coming through public elementary school, for the first time in our country’s history, is poised to be less literate than the previous generation. We’re going backwards at a time that we need to be leaping ahead. The consequences of failing our children are dire, and honestly, I’m not sure that they’re reversible. It’s an enormous problem that’s going to take every bit of brain power, creativity, and sweat equity that we can muster to find solutions.
And I’m not talking about solutions for those who can afford it or are lucky enough to win a school attendance lottery. The ones I most worry about are the ones who can’t afford it, who don’t win the lottery – what’s their way out and up of their current socio-economic level? Is there a way out at all? Do their dream just die on the vine, and our nation’s future right along with it?
A while back, Tom Friedman wrote in an editorial that we need to go to the bad neighborhoods before the bad neighborhoods come to us. The same is true of students and schools – if we don’t get to the ones that desperately need us, they will find us in all sorts of unfortunate ways. And it’s not their fault. It’s ours. It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when, unless we all get involved. See the movie, check out its website (with loads of suggestions and resources for anyone of any means to help rebuild the public education system), and let’s see what we can do together.