Posted by: joshjasper | November 14, 2010

Waiting For Superman

I heard from a few people recently that the Waiting for Superman documentary on the public school system is a must see.  After everyone was in bed last night I decided to venture out for a late night showing of this movie at Mindframe Theaters.  Although a little slow in parts, it was a good movie with a strong message; a message that felt painfully similar to our work in violence prevention.  In short, we have the answers to fix the problem, but we are getting in our own way of realizing any real change.

In the last few years pioneers in the field of education (Geoffrey Canada for one)  have realized transformative change by simply putting the focus back on the students.  They have discovered that even the most disadvantaged youth can succeed in school if they have good teachers that set the example for not only the students, but also for the teachers that may not be performing at their best.

One of the great points made in this movie was that it is not failing neighborhoods that create failing schools, it is actually quite the opposite.  When there are more than 2,000 “dropout factories”  (high schools where 60% of students do not graduate) throughout our country, the negative effects that these failing schools have on their respective neighborhoods is obvious.  These kids don’t have a chance and are quickly running out of options.

I left the movie last night feeling what Geoffrey Canada must feel like everyday.  We know how to prevent violence.  More specifically, we know how to END violence, but for a variety of reasons, we really don’t want to change.  Domestic and sexual violence thrives because of the inequalities that exist in our society.  Women are raped and battered every single day in our country because so many men fear that by giving up their perceived power and control they would also be giving up their opportunities to be successful.

Imagine if for just one day we treated everyone as an equal.  Violence would melt away and we would quickly learn that success can be realized in a variety of other ways rather than oppressing others.

We don’t need Superman to save us.  We can do this ourselves.  But sadly, we act as our own kryptonite.

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