Forgetting Superman

16 May

I finally saw Waiting for Superman. Just like all of the other Netflix movies I rent, it sat on the table for a couple weeks. Then I finally opened the actual envelope, and then it sat on the table for a couple weeks more.

One sunny afternoon of running errands I decided to finally watch the film. I don’t know why I waited so long. Waiting for Superman was a great documentary. For those who don’t know what the movie is about, it follows students and their parents while they hope and pray they will be picked for a lottery to get into a magnet/charter school to receive a better education.

Don’t watch this movie on a sunny day. By the film’s end, I was teary-eyed and under the covers, curtains drawn and lights off. The stats in the movie made me slightly depressed. Most eighth graders in the country read below an eighth grade level. (I’m not going to spoil it for those who haven’t seen it. Just watch it!)

What made the movie worse were the explanations for not firing bad teacher. If someone is a “bad” teacher, they are less likely to be fired for their lack of teaching ability because it is against their contract. And if a teacher made tenure? Those suckas ain’t going nowhere. Their jobs are guaranteed for life.

I couldn’t help but to think of all the teachers I’ve had during my school career — the nice ones, the boring ones, the substitutes, the bitches. Everybody has a unique school experience.

I grew up in the city and the ‘burbs. When I was in the city, I was considered smart. In school, they like to say you’re above average. I always read at a grade level ahead of me, but by fifth grade I was reading at an eighth grade level. (One teacher actually wanted me to skip a grade, but my parents decided against it.) Toward the end of fifth grade I moved to the suburbs, My reading may have been on point, but my math damn sure wasn’t. My new homeroom teacher said if I didn’t improve, I could be left back in the fifth grade. (I know, I was just as shocked as you are.) She said if I got extra help from her I would be fine.

Now, lemme tell you about this trifling teacher, Mrs. W. I had to see this chick for extra help during my lunch period which meant I had to cut my lunch short. When I got back to the classroom, Mrs. W was still eating, so in between bites of her dumb tuna sandwich and getting crumbs on my worksheets, Mrs. W helped me for all of ten minutes just that one time. Needless to say my mother wasn’t too happy. At the end of the school year, I noticed she whited out me going to fifth grade for the next year and put a six in it’s place.

Some teachers really don’t care about their students. Some would rather pass them then to deal with them for another year. I never really had a teacher I truly connected with or confided in. It wasn’t until my senior year of college that I connected with one of my professors. Her name was Dr. Pozorski. She gave me encouraging words during a time when I felt down. It wasn’t much, but it was just enough for me. She actually showed she cared. I’ll never forget her.

Gems: Did you ever have a teacher/professor that you trusted? How would you feel if you had to enter a lottery to go to a good school?

— Cherie Redd

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