Time magazine asked an important question last week: “What makes a school great?”
Waiting for “Superman” is a new film about America’s malfunctioning education system by Davis Guggenheim, the Academy Award-winning director of An Inconvenient Truth, a movie that took on another mind-numbingly complex issue and, confounding all logic, grossed $50 million worldwide — and changed the way many Americans think about climate change.
Scheduled to be released on Sept. 24, Waiting for “Superman” is a documentary that follows five kids and their parents as they try to escape their neighborhood public schools for higher-performing public charter schools. The movie explains how it could be that the U.S. since 1971 has more than doubled the money it spends per pupil, yet still trails most rich nations in science and math scores.
SBPDL picked up the book companion to the movie Waiting for “Superman” while traveling and realized that regardless of the money, time and effort exerted, a majority of students will always look up at the sky awaiting the arrival of an academic Superman to impart knowledge upon them.
But suppose integration doesn’t change the culture of underperformance? What if integration inadvertently created that culture in the first place? This is the startling hypothesis of Stuart Buck’s Acting White: The Ironic Legacy of Desegregation. Buck argues that the culture of academic underachievement among black students was unknown before the late 1960s.
It was desegregation that destroyed thriving black schools where black faculty were role models and nurtured excellence among black students. In the most compelling chapter of Acting White, Buck describes that process and the anguished reactions of the black students, teachers, and communities that had come to depend on the rich educational and social resource in their midst.
Buck draws on empirical studies that suggest a correlation between integrated schools and social disapproval of academic success among black students. He also cites the history of desegregation’s effect on black communities and interviews with black students to back up a largely compelling—and thoroughly disturbing—story.
If this hypothesis is correct, then we have spent perhaps more than a quadrillion dollars for naught. Then again, Black people in North Carolina regard any attempt of the ending of forced busing a harbinger of the reinstitution of academic segregation, which a Black intellectual argues was a net positive for Black education:
Protesters and police scuffled Tuesday at a school board meeting in North Carolina over claims that a new busing system would resegregate schools, roiling racial tensions reminiscent of the 1960s.
Nineteen people were arrested, including the head of state NAACP chapter who was banned from the meeting after a trespassing arrest at a June school board gathering.
“We know that our cause is right,” the Rev. William Barber said shortly before police put plastic handcuffs on his wrists before the meeting started.
Inside, more than a dozen demonstrators disrupted the meeting by gathering around a podium, chanting and singing against the board’s policies.
After several minutes, Raleigh police intervened and asked them to leave. When they refused, the officers grabbed arms and tried to arrest the protesters. One child was caught in the pushing and shoving, as was school board member Keith Sutton, who was nearly arrested before authorities realized who he was.
“Hey, hey, ho, ho, resegregation has got to go,” some protesters chanted.
Jefferson Reed is a mild mannered school teacher in Washington D.C.. His neighborhood is terrorized by a local gang called the Golden Lords. One night, Jeff steps in to rescue a woman from the gang, only to end up running from them himself. Hiding in a garbage dumpster, he manages to escape, and as he climbs out of it, he is struck down by a glowing green meteorite which crashes down from the sky. His spine is crushed and he receives severe burns. A small fragment of the meteor was left over and was taken by a silent vagrant (Bill Cosby). Reed awakens several days later in the hospital, but when his bandages are taken off, he is miraculously healed from all his injuries.
Jeff soon discovers the meteorite has left him with other abilities too, such as flight, x-ray vision, superhuman strength, invulnerability, healing powers, absorb a book’s content by touch, freezing breath, telepathy with dogs and telekinesis. Confiding this to his parents (Robert Guillaume and Marla Gibbs), he is convinced by them to use his powers to try and help the community. His mother designs a costume for him, and as The Meteor Man, he takes on the Golden Lords and their leader Simon Caine (Roy Fegan). He shuts down a crack house, stops a robbery, and unites the Crips, Bloods and the police.
What do you think?
We understand he provides the key to finally eradicating the racial gap in education.