The Education Crisis Rivets Attention in Films

Race to Nowhere shows the desperate situations in several geographically spread areas, and the efforts of parents and others to organize to improve conditions. This film points to the importance in educating the whole child, in involving parents and the community, rather than focusing only on test scores. In pursuit of A’s, American students are driven to suicide, cheating, and drugs. Parents are expected to raise high-achieving children who excel at everything; academics, sports and the arts-plus community service. Students feel pushed to the brink, educators worry they aren’t learning anything substantive, and college professors and business leaders are concerned that incoming employees lack the skills needed to succeed. This film tackles the tragic side of our often achievement-obsessed culture and offers solutions.

Hawai’i local showing:  The film was shown in high schools around Oahu and at the Honolulu Art Academy.
For a CNN news story on Race to Nowhere  click here for video clip

Waiting for Superman, by Academy Award winning director David Guggenheim, presents the dismal and shocking facts about our outmoded education system. The film’s impact on the visibility of the education crisis, and animation of facts into a form that the public can digest, are important and helpful. However, the effect of the engaging stories of several students competing for entry to charter schools is, unfortunately, misleading though poignant.

Hawai’i local showing: This film was shown to teachers in Honolulu with representatives from the HI DOE, HSTA, Castle Foundation, and Kamehameha Schools hosting. Discussions run hot about mischaracterizations, assumptions, and focus on the minority of students angling for charter admission– rather than the majority who will and must be served via traditional public schools.  The animated statistics intro (a very useful part of the film) was shown at the Education Town Hall this spring attended by Governor Abercrombie and Maya Soetero-Ng.

For my review on “Waiting for Superman” click here to open pdf

A Community Concern, a film giving visibility to the power of organizing as a way to improve urban public schools, provides hope to community organizations across the country. A Community Concern is a documentary about people who refuse to accept the system’s failures, and are working for change. Their spirit, passion and commitment shows that when organizers, parents, youth and educators work together, they are successful. It brings together stories of people facing different challenges, but share similar goals.

Hawai’i local showing: A Community Concern was shown as an introduction to Education Talk Story meetings at churches on Oahu as a part of a community awareness campaign by FACE, Education Task Force (Faith Action for Community Equity).

For a preview, visit the website and click the video.