Comments about ‘New movie 'Won't Back Down' makes the case for education reform’

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Published: Monday, Sept. 24 2012 2:00 p.m. MDT

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Sandy, UT

It's about time Americans everywhere, not just in the lower income neighborhoods, free themselves of the corrupt public education unions. What better way to do that than to take your kids out of the public education system altogether. Even if you can't afford a private school, what's the worst that could happen. Your kid sits at home on his behind doing nothing? It isn't like they learn anything in public schools anyway, is it? At least they don't learn enough to justify the outrageous costs. Kids are wasting far too much time in inefficient, ineffective public schools. It's time to take them out. If you can't afford a private school for them, have them get a job. They would learn practical skills that will actually benefit them. As they make money working, enroll them in classes here and there. Quality classes, even college classes. It's time we stop letting the teacher unions hold us all hostage. I mean, do we all want to end up like Chicago?

Santa Ana, CA

I am a retired secondary teacher. I concur that teacher unions and tenure make it too easy for some teachers to become lazy or be retained when they are not performing. However, everyone should use the same mantra I did regarding their children's education: My child's education is my responsibility and the public school is only one of the resources.
The truth is that schools can present and "teach" but the real work goes on in the home. Children need to be taught to desire to learn. They need to come to school ready to learn...with materials and full tummies. Parents need to help EVERY NIGHT with homework..and that means junior high and high school too. If you can't do it yourself, find someone who will. You must keep on top of it.

Seek to understand
Sandy, UT

Of course it is true parents should help with homework and feed their children. In Utah, most do.

The problem is MUCH bigger than something that can be fixed by parents doing more. Parents doing all they can CANNOT make up for a 3rd grade teacher who fails to teach a student to mastery. Parents doing all they can CANNOT make up for a school that doesn't know why 25-30% of its students don't make mastery in math (this is the majority of public schools in Utah) and therefore don't fix it (meaning next year's 3rd graders are going to lose a year also). Parents doing all they can CANNOT make up for a year lost with a teacher who is suffering from personal issues - be they health-related, family, or whatever.

Public schools simply do not have the ability to respond to student needs as their primary focus. A teacher at a private school will not likely remain in their position if they are unable to teach, for whatever reason.

Parents MUST be placed in a position of determining where their education dollars will be spent.

Orem, UT

The real problem with the public education system is the teacher's union(s). When you have a union protecting its members from being terminated for not actually teaching, that is a HUGE problem from where I see it!

Taylorsville, ut

‘Parent trigger’ has 100% failure rate, has pitted parents against parents and torn apart school communities where it has been tried. The first ‘parent trigger’ attempt took place in Compton, California in 2010 and is the supposed basis for this movie.Contrary to the movie portrayal of a parent-led group who later contacts an outside organizer for support, Compton was entirely organized by outside operators. According to Caroline Grannan, founding member of Parents Across America, “Parent Revolution, the billionaire-funded California operation that created the ‘parent trigger’ law, looked around for a school to target, chose Compton’s McKinley Elementary, and pre-selected a charter school operator to take it over.”
Caroline goes on to add, “Paid Parent Revolution employees went door-to-door in Compton with petitions. This was the first time parents had heard of this takeover. Hundreds turned out to a school board meeting to oppose the charter takeover.” According to Caroline, parents protested that they had been misled into signing the petition and they did not want their school to become a charter.

Taylorsville, ut

Continuation of remarks:

Parents are the first and lifelong teachers of their children. Genuine parental engagement produces long-term relationships, connects the school community to the larger community, and creates structures for becoming involved in a child’s education. Parent reinforcement can advance a child’s ability to achieve academic and social success and diminish behavioral problems.
Education excellence is everyone’s responsibility. Schools are like ecosystems-all of their many parts support one another and are critical to success. A longitudinal study out of the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research identified five essential, inter-related elements of school transformation: leadership, professional capacity, academic content/instructional guidance, student-centered learning climate, and parent-school-community ties.

one old man
Ogden, UT

As is true in so many controversial subjects in this nation, there is so much outright fiction floating around that no one what the truth really is.

But inflammatory movies and other things like this only fan the flames of misinformation and make it tougher to find good solutions.

We need to be very careful which "facts" we accept and which we don't.

Kearns, UT

Oh, I have so many issues with the comment that claims that schools don't know why 25-30% of students don't master math. The reality is that schools know why, but the parents don't want to hear the truth. We have a society who likes to blame everyone except for the person who has the highest stake in education--the student.

Parents don't want to hear that little Dylan isn't doing his classwork, so it must be the teacher's fault he's failing. It's not that Cynthia isn't turning in her homework, the teacher is just too lazy to grade it or loses it. It doesn't matter that John hasn't mastered the requirements for first grade, we'll move him up to second grade anyway--it's called social promotion--and hope that he catches up next year. We are allowing students to fail and fall further behind by not holding them accountable. That's where the real educational reform needs to take place.Fail a student who doesn't perform and let him suffer the consequences. Things will change quickly.

Howard Beal
Provo, UT

Every teacher in a private school is awesome. And I'm also married to Morgan Fairchild...yeah, that's right.

Orem, UT

- Really??? - It might also be that in five years in the same elementary school she had five teachers each teaching a different way to learn math. There was no consistency even though they were all supposedly teaching the same methods.

If educators were actually held responsible because their unions didn't protect them, then we could certainly eliminate that as a reason. I will agree that some children are lazy and their parents aren't pushing them to do their "jobs", but there is so much more to the problem.

Step one, privatize!

Red Headed Stranger
Billy Bobs, TX

We took our son out of his elementary school and put him in a charter school. We couldn't be happier. The public school uses "Math Investigations" which is the so called "new math". It was terrible. Students weren't being taught time tables, fractions in a meaningful way, or the "standard algorithm" for adding numbers. So instead of adding numbers like this:

+ 238

They were adding numbers like this

345 + 238 =

And drawing arrows between the hundreds places and so on. So the kids had to come up with their own "way to solve problems".

After arguing with the teacher, the principal, and the elementary math coordinator (I was a physics major and my wife teaches Calculus at the local community college), we moved him to a charter school and have encouraged other parents to do the same. We've spent many summer hours correcting the harm the public school teachers have done.

Abolish teachers unions. Give hiring and firing authority to principals as well as authority of curricula. Above all, parent should take control over their children's education, for the schools surely won't.

soccer coach
Taylorsville, UT

I am a high school teacher. My struggle is everyone continues to tell me that I am doing a horrible job at educating students. All I want to know is what would you like me to do to fix it? I hear complaints all the time but no suggestions on what to do to fix it. Let's complain about doctor's office visits. If I am 5 minutes late for my appointment it is cancelled and I must pay $25, but if I am on time and then wait 45 minutes to be seen nothing happens. My daughter recently had her appendix burst. We had 5 different doctors tell us that it was her appendix and it needed to be removed but when the surgeon opened her up he was shocked that it had burst. Maybe it was the 5 doctors and 7 nurses who pushed on her stomach that popped it. I am now paying bills to these 5 different doctors. Lets begin to attack them for not getting the diagnose correct in a timely manner. Back to teaching, tell me what to and I will fix it. I do want my students to learn.

MiddleofNowhere, Utah

I think parents would be astonished and enlightened to find out that the REAL reason their students "aren't learning anything" is because of the fact that students aren't trying to learn anything. Unless you have a genuine mental disorder you have to TRY to fail high school. Yes, it may take effort to succeed for some more than others, but if you come to school everyday, do the work, and seek for extra help if you need it, you will succeed. It comes easier to some more than others, that's life and it will happen in future jobs. Those who try harder will succeed. People (parents in particular) are just looking for someone else to blame. You can't make someone learn, when it comes down to it, they have to want to. All this talk about blaming teachers and making all schools private won't fix a thing. But keep talking, maybe if you talked a little more to your kids about the homework they need to do before playing video games or going out it would actually do something.

Red Headed Stranger
Billy Bobs, TX

Soccer Coach,

How to improve your teaching? First of all, stay on topic. I don't know why you are talking about your daughter, but this sounds like malpractice to me.

As for recommendations for improving your teaching I will give real life examples from interactions with my son's teachers, principal and school district:

- Don't ever say "I don't want parents to observe me in my classroom"

- If I tell you that Johnny is bullying my son, please do not put Johnny in the seat next to my son.

- If you write me a note, use complete coherent sentences with both prepositions and articles so I know that you actually passed college courses.

- Please assign lots of relevant homework. Multiplication tables, good. Word Search, bad.

- If my son has to go to the bathroom, then HE HAS TO GO TO THE BATHROOM. He has a little child-sized bladder.

- If you make it to the School district administration, do not haughtily dismiss my views on curricula if I have more education in the topic then you have and come with Department of Education research to back up my claim.

Hope this helps.

Seek to understand
Sandy, UT

If a school can teach students to do math - even students who are poor, minority and ESL, whose parents can't re-teach at home, then ALL schools could do the same and must be held accountable to that standard.

Blaming the parents is irrational and finally starting to backfire.

Squirt - of course the parent triggers have failed so far. Every civil rights initiative had many, many failures until enough people woke up and realized what the issues were and joined together to form a powerful coalition. This is happening now, and it is very exciting.

Parents MUST step up and join this effort to free children from mandatory attendance at government schools that are failing to teach them.

And even if your school is not failing, you owe it to your neighbors and to our country to support those citizens whose children are trapped in a failing school. This is the most important civil rights issue of our time, and it will eventually be remedied. Hopefully before too many more thousands of our children are casualties of a broken system.

MiddleofNowhere, Utah

How will blaming the teachers or the system help your student? When you baby your student and tell them its not their fault and that they don't have any accountability for their education what will happen in the long run? What will happen when they have a bad professor in college (there are also plenty of those)? Will you then go and blame the professor for your student not getting a quality education? What happens when he has a bad employer? Will you blame the employer and government for your child not succeeding? Come on! When does the passing of blame stop? When will we start to teach accountability to children instead of entitlement? You can learn and succeed despite other people.

Peter R
Provo, UT

The article is somewhat misleading in representing the U.S.'s performance on the PISA. The article quite clearly makes it sound as if the U.S. is declining in each of these areas when, in reality, the average scores have remained statistically the same, for the most part. In math, the U.S. avg. was 483 in 2003, 474 in 2006, and 487 in 2009. For science, the U.S. was at 491 in 2003, 489 in 2006, and 501 in 2009. Criterion-wise, there's been a slight improvement in 2009 over 2006, but we're statistically pretty much where we were in 2003.

The reason there are more countries ahead of us now than in 2003 is because more countries are now participating in PISA. The countries that have participated from the beginning have been relatively stable in their rankings (Canada is consistently ranked in the top 10, so go north if you want a better education).

Herriman, UT

SS's comments are on the money. If someone really wants to learn they will move heaven and earth to learn it. Come into any high school in our state and you will see this played out, both positively and negatively, by students. With that said, as an educator I will also call out my colleagues to teach. To not accept excuses. To be role models for our students in how we dress and how we behave. Take away your student's excuses by doing everything possible to make certain that any excuse is just a lie. Call parents and say "I want to teach your student but they have to show up ready to learn. Will you help me do just that?" And then do the job. No excuses either. Do the job.

Peter R
Provo, UT

2009 was also the first year that Shanghai, China participated, which is where the Chinese send all their smartest students. Needless to say, they blew everyone out of the water and are in a class all their own, statistically. A country-wide comparison is somewhat difficult because that's the only part of mainland China that participated in the exams. However, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau, all Chinese-speaking governments (two of which are now officially part of the PRC, have participated in prior exams and have consistently performed well.


I currently teach in an elementary school. I spend about 10-12 hours a day working on classroom preparation, grading, and conversing with parents. It is so frustrating to see a movie made that makes teachers look apathetic. The teachers I work with devote great amounts of time, and often their own health, to helping our students. Yes, I am a member of a union, because, forbid it ever be needed, I know that I will receive due process. No, not because it guarantees my job. If one is a poor teacher, one shouldn't teach. I have never seen my union keep a poor teacher.

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