Superman may have lost his cape, but…

You may have heard by now that “Waiting for Superman,” last year’s overhyped movie that was little more than a featurelength advertisement for the charter school movement, won’t be waiting for an Oscar. It didn’t win an Academy Award nomination in the documentary category, and if you detect a bit of smugness in my tone, you are perceptive.

The conversation about education that director Davis Guggenheim said he wanted to start already was well underway before Guggenheim decided to interject himself into the debate. And, much of the conversation was being conducted by public school teachers, whom the director not only chose to ignore but also wrongly tried to portray as villains.

Good charter schools have their place, but the vast majority of children in Texas and other states will continue to be educated in traditional public schools, most of whom are doing a much better job than Guggenheim’s movie suggested.

As media consultant James Aldrete pointed out today during a presentation to the National Education Association’s PR Council, meeting in Austin, “There are no shortcuts (to educational quality).”

No shortcuts, no silver bullets, just a lot of hard, dedicated work by educators and adequate support by state policymakers. Texas’ educators have long done their share, but they are still waiting on the policymakers, and, as we already know, that wait will be long and difficult during this year’s state budgetary process.

Gov. Rick Perry and many legislators still persist in crippling cuts to an already underfunded school finance system, endangering the jobs of thousands of educators, undercutting the learning environment for millions of school kids and putting a huge question mark on Texas’ future.

TSTA and the National Education Association have some differences with President Obama over education policy, but the president was right on point last night when, during his State of the Union address, he warned against cuts in education spending. He was talking to Congress, but the same message applies to the Texas Legislature.

“Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing the engine,” he said. “It may feel like you’re flying high at first, but it won’t take long before you’ll feel the impact.”


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