Waiting for Superman, the Education Debate, and America's Future
October 08, 2010
The critically-acclaimed documentary Waiting for Superman opens nationwide today, and one of the key educators featured in the film is Geoffrey Canada. Canada is President and CEO of Harlem Children's Zone, an organization described by President Barack Obama as "an all-encompassing, all-hands-on-deck anti-poverty effort that is literally saving a generation of children in a neighborhood where they were never supposed to have a chance."
Beacon Press was proud to publish Canada's two books, Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence (now available in a new edition) and Reaching Up for Manhood: Transforming the Lives of Boys in America, as well as a new graphic book adaptation of Fist Stick Knife Gun. The graphic version, which was adapted by comic artist Jamar Nicholas, was recently praised by Publisher's Weekly as "exactly the sort of broadly appealing and gripping nonfiction graphic novel that librarians need to be adding to their shelves."
We are equally proud to see Canada given prominent voice in the debate about how to improve educational opportunities for all children in America. Click on the links below to find out more about Geoffrey Canada, the Harlem Children's Zone, and Waiting for Superman.
Geoffrey Canada Members Project video, where he speaks about Mike, his childhood protector and a major figure in Fist Stick Knife Gun.
Time Magazine feature article on Waiting for Superman
New York Times review of Waiting for Superman
Oprah Winfrey's Waiting for Superman resource page
Geoffrey Canada on The Today Show
As Waiting for Superman highlights the challenges faced by our educational system, Beacon offers several titles that provide perspectives on how to address them.
The Hardest Questions Aren't on the Test: Lessons from an Innovative Urban School
by Linda Nathan
The Boston Arts Academy comprises an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse student body, yet 94 percent of its graduates are accepted to college. This remarkable success rate, writes Principal Linda Nathan, is in large part due to asking the right questions and being open to seeking solutions collaboratively with faculty, parents, and the students themselves.
Quality Education as a Constitutional Right: Creating a Grassroots Movement to Transform Public Schools
Editors: Theresa Perry, Robert P. Moses, Ernesto Cortés Jr., Lisa Delpit, Joan T. Wynne
Legendary civil rights leader and education activist Robert Moses invited one hundred prominent African American and Latino intellectuals and activists to meet to discuss a proposal for a campaign to guarantee a quality education for all children as a constitutional right-a movement that would "transform current approaches to educational inequity, all of which have failed miserably to yield results for our children." The response was overwhelming, and people literally started organizing on the spot.
In Schools We Trust: Creating Communities of Learning in an Era of Testing and Standardization
by Deborah Meier
We are in an era of radical distrust of public education. Increasingly, we turn to standardized tests and standardized curricula-now adopted by all fifty states-as our national surrogates for trust.
Legendary school founder and reformer Deborah Meier believes fiercely that schools have to win our faith by showing they can do their job. But she argues just as fiercely that standardized testing is precisely the wrong way to that end. The tests themselves, she argues, cannot give the results they claim. And in the meantime, they undermine the kind of education we actually want.
In this multilayered exploration of trust and schools, Meier critiques the ideology of testing and puts forward a different vision, forged in the success stories of small public schools she and her colleagues have created in Boston and New York. These nationally acclaimed schools are built, famously, around trusting teachers-and students and parents-to use their own judgment.
Meier traces the enormous educational value of trust; the crucial and complicated trust between parents and teachers; how teachers need to become better judges of each others' work; how race and class complicate trust at all levels; and how we can begin to 'scale up' from the kinds of successes she has created.
These and many more titles can be found on the Beacon Press website.