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Waiting For Superman: Students First - With A Free Essay Review



Have you ever wondered if you received the best education growing up? Can you recall a bad teacher that made you hate the class they were teaching? For some of us, having good teachers meant getting good marks in school. In "Waiting For Superman", Davis Guggenheim, demonstrates throughout his documentary on the importance of good teachers and schools, and how they have a tremendous impact on students and their education. In Mike Rose's "I Just Wanna Be Average", Mike rose was a student who did not have teachers pushing him to do better in school, and in turn he was falling behind in school. When his English teacher came along and motivated him to sign up for college, Rose's future s changed for the better. We can make our children's futures brighter, if schools get more involved in the education of their students. Rather than making decisions that are not in the best interest for our children's education, schools need to focus on providing better education for children.

First of all, teachers unions are disastrous to a child's education. For example, in "Waiting For Superman" Davis Guggenheim, demonstrates how unions are just about the adults, and how unions are not beneficial to the students. Guggenheim states, "The things we've done to help the schools have become the thing that prevents them from working" (Guggenheim, 2010). Unions should be helping our children and guiding them through their school years but, but in fact, unions are only ensuring teachers carrers no matter if they are good or bad teachers. In the Documentary, "Waiting For Superman", Howard Fuller, who at the time was the superitendent for Milwaukee, was trying to get rid of bad teachers in his school, with evidence of them not teaching their students, but was unsuccesful in doing so because of what is known to the Teachers union as "Tenure". Tenure ensures a teachers job for life, after being a teacher for three years, regardless of the fact if the teacher is good or bad. When Michelle Rhee, from "Waiting For Superman", was trying to change the way tenure works, she was automatically shot down by the Teachers union. Although some states are now reconsidering the terms of tenure and extending the time when a teacher can get the privileged of tenure, unions continue to care more about what will happen to teachers instead of paying attention to the most important thing, which is good education and good teachers for the children.

Furthermore, school districts need to change the way they evalute each teacher and make the process more effective. For example, instead of having an evaluation process some school districts do what is known as "the lemon dance". This is where schools, within the same district, trade their "bad lemons" with other schools, and hope the new teacher they get is better than the one they had before. Schools need to come with better methods of evualting each teacher and making sure that they are producing statifactory results. Guggenheim states "the difference between a really good teacher and a really bad teacher is one year of learning per academic year" (Guggenheim, 2010). This expresses how important it is to our children's education to have good teachers, so they can strive in school and be prepared for their next grade level. As Guggenheim states in his documentary, that " one in 2,500 teachers lose thier teaching creudentials". This is harming our children education when schools do not have the proper ways of dealing with teachers who not capable of teaching the students. Most schools are failing at providing good evalution for teachers and is in fact damaging to our children because we are setting them up for failure when we should be guiding our students to success.

However, if schools change the way they teach kids in school, they would produce better prepared students with higher success rates. For instance, if teachers' would get more involved in their students education, this will make their students more excited about learning new subjects. Harriet ball, from "Waiting For Superman", is a teacher from Houston, Texas who noticed her students were not remembering key terms, and created a song to get her students to learn and remember the subject. This is something new teachers are experimenting with and is getting students motivated to learn. Mike Rose, as a student, was not motivated and was struggling in school until his English teacher took an interest in him. Rose writes, "One day in the December of my senior year, Mr. MacFarland asked me where I was going to college. I hadn't had thought much about it."(Rose 41). Mike rose was not motivated to go to a four-year college until his teacher Jack MacFarland inspired him to strive for higher education. Todd Dickson, from "Waiting For Superman", works at Summit Prep public charter school, and in his school they do not have tracking for their students; which means they hold every student to the same standard, unlike traditional public schools. With this Summit Prep public charter school has had the highest number of students who, when they graduate, are prepared for the courses they receive in college (Guggenheim 2010). Changing the way schools teach our children will make our kids better prepared for the "real world".

In brief, if we keep our children's education about the children and not about the adults we will produced more prepared individuals who will have a bright future. If we have better teachers who love what they do and really want to make a difference in the lives of children, we will have students who are prepared and excited about college. Teachers unions need a change in the way they think about the union, and make it more about children's education. We need unions to care more about what can kind of teachers are in the schools, and get rid of the teachers who are not good for the schools.

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ESSAY REVIEW

The primary thesis of this essay seems to be that "we can make our children's futures brighter if schools get more involved in the education of their students." This thesis seems odd because the primary function of schools is the education of students. For the thesis to make sense to your reader, you would need to demonstrate the extent to which schools typically are involved in the education of their students, and what being "more involved" would mean. The essay doesn't do this, however. (You offer an example of a teacher who uses songs, but such a teacher is not necessarily any more "involved" than a teacher who does not use songs.)

Instead, you discuss "unions," which you claim "are disastrous to a child's education." You don't explain, however, why you think this is true. You say "unions should be helping our children and guiding them through their school years," but also don't explain why you think that. For what it's worth, I can't see why you would think that: why would "guiding children" be the job of a union? Perhaps the problem is that you have not investigated what the purpose of a union is, or perhaps you are relying on assertions made in the film "Waiting for Superman." If the problem is the former, the solution is obvious. If it is the latter, then perhaps it would help to explain why Guggenheim thinks that unions are detrimental to education, or why he thinks that unions should "guide" children. If you think Guggenheim "demonstrates how unions are just about the adults ... [and] not beneficial to the students," then you need to explain how he demonstrates that, and explain why you find the demonstration compelling. And, then, explain why you think it is relevant. Unions as unions have a specific job to do (protection of workers’ rights); one that has nothing to do with addressing the needs of students, which is the job of teachers, schools, school boards, text books and text book writers, curriculum advisers, and parents.

Instead of explaining Guggenheim’s position, you resort merely to assertions: "in fact, unions are only ensuring teachers' [note correction] careers [note correction]." These kinds of assertions have no argumentative value. They neither prove nor disprove the claim that you want to make in your essay. So if you want to make these claims, explain why you think they are true. You could then improve the argumentative quality of the essay further by considering the arguments of those who disagree with Guggenheim.

The same approach would also help you improve your approach to the question of tenure. (Perhaps you meant to offer the defence of tenure as an example of unions getting in the way of improvements in education, but you don’t explicitly say that). First, do a little bit of research in order to help you understand exactly what tenure is, and what its purpose is. Then explain why you or why Guggenheim think there is something wrong with tenure. Then consider what Guggenheim's opponents would (or, better, _do_) say. Getting rid of tenure is one possible solution to the problem of underperforming teachers. But it doesn't solve the problem of why such teachers are hired in the first place, or address the problem of how to ensure that dismissed teachers are replaced by better ones. Moreover, since tenure is one of the advantages of the job for the teacher, it serves as an incentive for prospective teachers (aside from its traditional purpose of protecting academic freedom) and so tends to increase the number of persons willing to become teachers. By increasing the number of aspiring teachers, tenure, it could be argued, generally improves the quality of teachers. You could also do that, of course, by raising teachers salaries significantly. And you could argue, further, that the existence of a strong union to protect the interests of its membership helps also to ensure that teaching is a profession with the kind of benefits that will attract future teachers. These are obvious counterarguments that your essay does not, but should, address. If you find those arguments unconvincing, explain why.

The problem that you want to tackle in this essay is a complex one, but you tackle it as though it were a simple one: get rid of tenure and get teachers and unions "more involved." For what it's worth, my opinion is that such measures would have an effect the precise opposite of that intended (I’m not a high school teacher, but I am interested in the fate of education, so my view may still be baised). They would make teaching a much less attractive profession than it is, and as a consequence necessitate the hiring of more underqualified teachers. Other countries have tackled the problem differently: increase the competition for teaching jobs by making the teaching profession more attractive, not less attractive. Instead of getting rid of tenure and unions, pay teachers more. If teachers are paid highly enough, schools could make it a requirement that new teachers have a Master's in education or in their field of expertise.

I have not seen "Waiting for Superman," but if your representation of it is more or less accurate, then I suspect it is a fairly tendentious and thoughtless film that you rely on too heavily to develop your understanding of complex issues. To begin to address that problem, and to address the fact that the essay relies too much on assertion rather than reasoned argument, you might find it helpful to undertake at least some preliminary research into some of those issues (e.g., the purpose of tenure; the function of unions and of teachers' unions in particular, the working conditions of teachers).
Submitted by: mayralove
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