04 October 2010

Waiting for Superman

We went to see Waiting for Superman on Friday. Many critics are claiming that the movie oversimplifies the education problem by vilifying unions and promoting charter schools. While both arguments are made, the information is far more nuanced than that and there is a lot more to learn. You must see this film!

I just want to highlight and juxtapose two facts from the movie:

First: In the next 20 years our education system will not produce enough college graduates to fill US needs. By 2018 the shortfall will be 3 million and it will grow from there. These vacancies need to be filled either by increasing the performance of our education system or by immigration.

Second: While most of our schools (public, private and charter) preserve the "achievement gap" between lower and middle-class students. A growing set of innovative schools including KIPP charter schools and the Harlem Children's Zone have not only closed the gap but have elevated children of poverty-stricken areas to perform better than their middle-class competitors. Their models have been followed more than 100 schools with repeatable results.

These two facts combined mean that it's within our power to fill the need for a well-educated workforce from our most poverty-stricken neighborhoods.

Updated 26 Oct 2010: Added correct employment shortfall number with link.

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