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Waiting for Superman. What About Wonder Woman?

RI-CAN hosted a preview of the film, “Waiting for Superman” at the Warwick Showcase Cinemas on Tuesday prior to it’s opening to the public on Friday, October 22nd. There has been loads of discussion and controversery–and more to follow for sure–around this documentary by Davis Guggenheim. Although the film does not portray the full or accurate picture of what is happening in public schools today, the message is clear that urban schools are not working as well as they should and kids and our neighborhoods are suffering as a result. The important take away is the urgency for us to take action to improve our public schools.

Read below what The Learning Community, a public charter school in Central Falls says about the film, how they are doing their part in changing the system and find ways you can get involved in Rhode Island.

Maybe this film will inspire people who haven’t been involved to get involved. It should make each of us feel what teachers feel every day:
These children are counting on me.

– Christine Wiltshire, Director of External Professional Development, The Learning Community

Last night 500 people gathered for the Rhode Island premiere of Waiting for Superman, a documentary highlighting the challenges students, families and educators face daily.  The film’s urgency is welcome to anyone who knows firsthand the pressure that poverty puts on our children and our classrooms. We can’t wait for Superman to fix things. Since the film emphasizes charter schools, and as a charter school serving the state’s highest poverty community, we wanted to share some thoughts.

What about all the other kids?
Over the past five years almost $10 billion in local, state, and federal tax dollars have been invested in Rhode Island’s public schools. Nationally, we have invested $2.4 trillion. We cannot afford to abandon traditional public schools, which educate almost 97% of our students. Let’s not set up charter schools as the silver bullet solution.  We must urgently fight for all our children and their schools.

So what are we doing to change things?
Great ideas don’t spread themselves. The Learning Community was founded with a dual purpose: build a great school serving a high-poverty community and systematically share what works.

Our effort to share what works includes a ground-breaking professional development partnership with the Central Falls School District. This is the only place in the nation where charter school teachers are working alongside colleagues from traditional schools right in the classroom. The result? Dramatic improvement in every elementary school – last year reading scores increased by 30 points in grades K-2.  In 2011, we’ll serve over 1400 students K-5 in Central Falls and 500 students at The Learning Community.  And we are doing this together.

What can you do right here, right now?
If you have seen Waiting for Superman or have friends who plan to, please share the flyer that describes ways you can get involved in Rhode Island.

Wait, does this mean super heroes aren’t important?
Of course not.  Check out these heroes 4th graders invented with local illustrator Allison Blackwell.

Proving poverty is not a barrier to student achievement.  Join us.

The Learning Community believes that literacy empowers each individual to have a voice, assume community responsibility, and take social action. They expect leadership at every level.

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  • Public charter schools have more autonomy than district public schools and therefore are able to try new approaches and maintain a teaching staff that is committed to the school’s approach. That can be a real boon for the kids at the Charter but doesn’t make much of a difference to the big picture unless the successful approaches are shared. That is exactly what the Learning Community is doing – it is a model for not only teaching and learning – but for making the most of charter schools. – Janice