Friday, February 25, 2011

Waiting For Superman

Watched the Waiting For Superman Netflix CD yesterday -- well made documentary with lots of stats and cogent arguments on current state of public schools in US. Much more convincing than the rival, and somewhat antithetical Race To Nowhere.

Waiting for Superman makes following points:
  • The current state of public schools is not good -- decades of increased spending per student (inflation adjusted) hasn't caused average scores to move up in any significant way. A large number of public schools are failing in their basic job of preparing students for college.
  • The primary reason for this state is the current structure of the school system and the teachers union. There are no systemic incentives for teachers to improve themselves or work harder.
  • The causal relationship between rich neighborhoods and better performing schools is overrated. Some of the charter schools have demonstrated consistently good results in poor neighborhoods.
  • The single most important factor in quality of education is the quality of teachers.
  • Longer school hours (or more time with academics) improves results.
Of course, this is just a few of the points I recall from an hour and half documentary.

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