During the month of November the Sebastiani Theater will be hosting two very interesting movies: Race to Nowhere and Waiting for Superman (see information below for details).  You may have heard of either or both of these movies – both intriguing and controversial. Both movies portray extremes – the stressed out student who falls apart because of the extreme pressures put on him both by his parents and his school or, the American public school system which is viewed as a failed enterprise.

I was fortunate enough to visit Hillsdale High School last month with 11 other SVHS educators and community members, working with the Stanford Redesign Network.  The principal at Hillsdale High School, Jeff Gilbert, shared a quote that went something like, “It’s not charter schools, merit pay or Teach for America which are the solutions – it’s changing culture and continuous improvement.” I completely agree with this statement!

We don’t need to wait for Superman; Superman lives right here in Sonoma.  Superman lives in community support, parent participation, student engagement, committed educators, dedicated Board members, rigorous curriculum and the list goes on.  Do we need to improve student achievement in our district? Yes, we do.  Do we as educators (including myself) need continual professional development? Absolutely.  Do we need to look critically at what we do to educate students in Sonoma Valley? Without a doubt.

As a district, we all need to focus on continuous improvement – that has been and will be the key to successfully educating our students.

General Information

Race to Nowhere <http://www.racetonowhere.com/> is showing on Monday, Nov. 22nd at 7 PM at the Sebastiani Theatre followed by a panel discussion.  Following is a description of the movie from the Washington Post:  Nationally the film is playing as a quiet counterpoint to the better-known “Waiting for Superman”, which focuses on failing urban schools. “Race to Nowhere” explores a different problem, the strains of competing in a pressure-packed academic culture that is highly test-driven and pushes some students to the edge. The film is attracting notice from New York to California, where mom-turned-filmmaker, Vicki Abeles, a 48-year-old lawyer, launched the documentary project as she set out to understand the stresses her children, now ages 16, 14 and 11, were experiencing.

Waiting for Superman http://www.waitingforsuperman.com/action/?gclid=CIK8yZrGlKUCFQITbAodZjZKNw is showing through November 11th at the Sebastiani Theater. Below is a brief description of the movie from the Washington Post: While chronicling their parents’ struggles to place them in coveted public charter schools, where admission is determined by lottery, director Davis Guggenheim recounts the history of failed attempts to improve the nation’s education system.

Here are two reviews of Waiting for Superman which I think you will find interesting:

“The Myth of Charter Schools” by Diane Ravitch (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/nov/11/myth-charter-schools/?pagination=false&printpage=true)

“Waiting for Superman” by John Anderson (http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117941947.html?categoryId=31&cs=1