Waiting For Superman Is an Insult to True Educators
Ohanian Comment: I couldn't get past the first paragraph of most blogs on the Superman film because they revert to whining, but Jeanine Molloff offers an excellent analysis of what you need to know about this film. I would add to this: Fewer than Six Degrees of Separation between Barack Obama and Waiting for Superman, written long before the current deluge. . . and, sigh, passing unnoticed. It doesn't pay to be ahead of the pack.
OK, I admit it: I didn't watch Oprah offer one more round of brand endorsements:
Even a casual Oprah watcher can name Ms. Winfrey's best friend, favorite actors, party planner, beloved authors, mentors, medical expert, personal trainer, hair stylist, home decorator, chef, financial advisor, and spiritual guru. Oprah shares her favorite experts, friends and ideas with her audience. That's her brand. If Oprah thinks it, you might too. If Oprah loves a product, you need to run out and buy one.
Ă¢€”Gary Stager, Oprah's Edifice Complex, June 2007
Did I need to see her fawn over her favorite school deformer(s)? I had the choice of going sailing on beautiful Lake Champlain in 15-20 knot wind or watching one more round of bashing public schools.
by Jeanine Molloff
The new hollywood documentary on alleged education reform titled, Waiting for Superman, is about to be released to the general public. Directed by the same man who directed and produced An Inconvenient Truth, namely Davis Guggenheim -- this documentary consists of a business panel analysis by corporate heads such as Bill Gates, and corporate toadies such as Washington D.C.'s present Superintendent of Schools, Michelle Rhee.
Tokenism towards teachers comes in the form of Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers. While 'innovations', such as charter schools managed by corporate sources, are heralded; no analysis of fiscal issues is discussed. The film has it own 'inconvenient truth,' namely that slashed budgets and overcrowded classes are ignored. Furthermore, the ravages of the most extreme poverty seen since the Great Depression and the psychological impact they have on our children, are also conveniently ignored. The corporate censorship of curriculums, slicing out history and other humanities -- also ignored.
The agenda looks like reform, but its true direction is total corporate control using never-ending standardized testing to control and punish any who dare to challenge the corporate propaganda, served piping hot with Hollywood relish. Consequently, demonizing teachers is a recurrent theme in this film.
Much has been written lately on the desperate need to improve our nation's public schools. Pundits ranging from the corporate led Business Roundtable to President Obama himself have linked our children's futures, our very survival as a nation, to 'reforming' what has been proclaimed as an irretrievably broken system of 'haves' and 'have-nots.' Alongside this chorus of political voices pledging their concern for our children is an even stronger political 'lynch-mob' going after teachers and teacher unions.
Both Democrats and Republicans alike have attacked teacher unions as the problem rather than the possible solution. Both parties have equally backed corporate 'solutions' leading to an eventual abandonment of public education, beginning with Bush's No Child Left Behind, and continuing with Obama's Race To The Top, with Education Secretary (and presidential basketball buddy) Arne Duncan as the artful dodger, presenting the scam to an exhausted American public.
The market driven solutions favored by both administrations are heavy on standardized testing, endless documentation (including every time Junior produces snot), and of course, censuring curriculums while blaming the teachers. All of these reforms come courtesy of The Business Roundtable. (Source: Why Is Corporate America Bashing Our Public Schools?).
Yes, the same group of multinational corporations (including big banks), who have tanked the economy, deprived many of healthcare, and flooded the airwaves with corporate logos and the endless brain dead bigotry of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, etc., are dictating what your child will learn. The same corporations who deny the American public any reasonable accountability--now control the nations' schools -- through Arne Duncan.
In fact, when Arne Duncan was nominated for Education's top office; the Business Roundtable issued a press release on its own letterhead praising the selection. Dated December 16th, 2008, they issued the "Business Roundtable Statement on Obama's Secretary of Education." Here is the text of the media statement:
Business Roundtable member CEO's congratulate President-elect Obama on the selection of Arne Duncan as the next Secretary of Education. The selection signals that the Obama administration believes that aggressive efforts are needed to raise U.S. student achievement. Mr. Duncan has a strong record of working with the business community to improve schools in Chicago. Business Roundtable has long supported efforts to improve the performance of the education system and raise student achievement int he U.S. and looks forward to working with Secretary-designate Duncan to improve American education," said John J. Castellani, president of Business Roundtable.
The quote sounds 'nice', but what does it really mean? Why should a US Secretary of Education, charged with the future of our children, be working with corporate CEO's? Keep in mind that these are the same corporations constantly pushing for increasing exemptions on the very same taxes that support schools and are a major part of civic responsibility. These are the same corporations which abandoned the US for workers overseas willing to slave for pennies on the dollar. The outsourcing of jobs now includes computer professionals and MD's. I hardly think the average American doctor is in need of remedial reading compared to a foreign colleague.
When you look further at the Executive Committee of the Business Roundtable, the plot thickens. It's a virtual 'rogues gallery' of corporate sociopaths. There's Angela Braly, CEO of Wellpoint, Inc., the largest private health insurance company in the nation. Braly is the same executive who basically stonewalled Congressional investigators on what should be illegal practices of the industry specifically designed to delay and/or deny care, even to pediatric cancer patients. Wellpoint denied care to fellow St. Louisan Melanie Shouse, who worked tirelessly to help others. Melanie is the healthcare activist/cancer patient who was commended by Obama in a State of the Union Address.
Then there's James Dimon, Chairman & CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., the same bank accused of defrauding millions of homeowners with barely legal usurious practices, and defrauding the taxpayers with economically illegitimate derivatives. In fact, here is a partial list of some other directors:
Michael T. Duke, President & CEO of Walmart Stores, Inc.,
Edward B. Rust, Jr., Chairman & CEO of State Farm Insurance,
Ivan G. Seidenberg, Chairman & CEO of Verizon Communications,
Jeffrey R. Immeltk, Chairman & CEO of General Electric Company,
W. James McNerny, Chairman & CEO of The Boeing Company
When you look at some of these names, they seem benign enough, yet look a bit longer and you find the dangerous underbelly of the beast. Just on the surface, you see Boeing, a major aeronautics giant. Boeing is patriotic, supporting our troops (at least according to the propaganda that passes as news on mainstream media), yet it has been alleged that a Boeing subsidiary, Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc., provided the air ' taxis' transporting people to known black ops torture sites around the world.
In an October 23rd, 2006 article, The New Yorker revealed that Jeppesen handled the logistical planning for the CIA 'torture taxis.' Allegations were based on a statement from ex-employee Bob Overby, (then managing director of the company). To quote Overby: ..."We do all of the extraordinary rendition flights -- you know, the torture flights. Lets face it, some of these flights end up that way. It certainly pays well." I suppose Jeppesen could send a rep to teach 'ethical civic behavior' and constitutional law?
Boeing is a major arms manufacturer, with a vested interest in continuing our wars of empire in Iraq and Afghanistan, using public sentiment and shallow patriotic symbolism devoid of meaning or truth to fuel their cause. According to Sourcewatch, more than half of overall company revenue (some 27 billion dollars), comes from weapons sales. Products include: C17 Globemaster Transport, F-15 Fighter, AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopter, MH-47 Chinook Helicopter and the Hellfire Missile.
Boeing's bottom line needs future workers who can perform engineering, math, or read coordinates on a battle map, but are ignorant of humanities such as philosophy or consitutional law. Blind obedience to patriotic propaganda requires a gullible public unable to examine the true causes of our decline and unwilling to question or 'speak truth to power.' So, we see middle school students learning geography (better to bomb you with, my dear), instead of literature or Constitution 101. Duncan's record of militarizing schools in Chicago acts as a prelude of whats to come. Our children are seen as good cannon fodder by these corporatists.
BP is also a member of good standing in the roundtable. Yes, this is the same BP responsible for the Deepwater Horizon disaster. This is the same BP who attempted to kill the 1st amendment even when Anderson Cooper attempted to report on the situation. Cooper's team was threatened with criminal prosecution at a federal level for filming 'clean-up' activities. Enough said.
We also have multiple banks including JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, US Bank, Banco Popular and Wachovia, who have contributed heavily to our predatory banking system of open usury. A report by the National People's Action Group documented that Wall Street's largest banking institutions -- the 'too big to fail' club -- are extending credit to payday loan companies who routinely charge average interest rates in excess of 400%. These are the same banks which received taxpayer TARP funds after defrauding investors with derivatives and tanking our economy. I suppose they could teach our kids how to cheat more effectively....
Yet, these are the same executives who embraced Arne Duncan as Education Secretary. And just when you thought things couldn't get worse, we have the legitimizing of this corporate takeover of our public schools in the form of this new Hollywood documentary, Waiting for Superman. In terms of fairness and accuracy, Guggenheim should have done his homework. Bluntly put, Superman has left the building.