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State of Mass. Education: Waiting for Superman

by WGGB Staff

REGION (WGGB) — Dean Technical High School in Holyoke is just one of 12 under performing schools in our area and one of many in the country struggling to keep up.  In this first part of a four part series, we introduce you to five students, chronicled in a new movie that portrays our education system as in a state of crisis, and the movie is sparking a public outcry among those who’ve seen it.

Among 30 developing countries, we rank 25th in math and 21st in science.  In almost every category we’ve fallen behind. The premise of the documentary, “Waiting for Superman”, depicts the notion that it’s going to take the strength of a superhero to fix America’s failing education system.

It chronicles five students who have big plans for their futures. Fulfilling ambitions like going to college, being a teacher, or a doctor is no easy task. The public schools they attend are in inner cities and can’t provide them with the educations they need. Their only chance for survival is winning a slot at a charter school.

The odds are staggering, but if their number comes in, the promise of a great education is the top prize.

“I think it’s somewhat disheartening to see the children who want to go to high performing schools that are unfortunately unable to do so,” says John Davis of the Davis Foundation of the movie.  Springfield School Superintendent Dr. Alan Ingram says, “It really is thought provoking. I think it portrayed accurately some of the many challenges we face in education.”

While the film is raising awareness about the severity of the country’s education crisis, opponents are unhappy with the film’s negative portrayal of teachers unions and the bias in favor of charter schools as the solution.

So what is the answer? This week on abc40 news at 6:00 p.m., we’ll explore that question and take a look at the state of education in Massachusetts. Tuesday, the Superintendents from Holyoke and Springfield talk about the challenges facing them as they work to turn a number of under performing schools around.

Wednesday, we’ll take you inside Springfield’s largest charter school to find out the secrets to its success.

Finally Thursday, some final thoughts on what educators believe needs to be put in place to improve the quality of education.

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