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Pallas on 'Superman': Such weak claims, and so little impact, too

As one might expect, Teachers College professor — and frequent critic of the Obama administration’s education policies — Aaron Pallas has some issues with “Waiting for ‘Superman.'” But his concerns lie not only with the documentary’s evidence, but also with whether the movie will actually change schools.

In the community section and in his Hechinger Report column, Pallas writes:

Having seen the film and bought the book, I’m skeptical that the ”Waiting for ‘Superman’” propaganda campaign is going to have much impact on education policy, despite all of the buzz for and against the film. … ”Waiting for ‘Superman’” doesn’t really lead the viewer to take a particular action. ”We know what works,” “Text this number to help,” and “Get involved” are exhortations that confront the viewer at the film’s conclusion — but they’re hopelessly vague.

And even if one accepts the premise that the message of the film is to support expanding charter schools, or make teachers more accountable for how their students perform, the likelihood of the film actually provoking movement on these objectives is muted by the fact that the nation just went through a Race to the Top competition in which precisely these goals were rewarded. As many states have just passed laws supporting these things, it’s hard to imagine much pressure for even more.

The main action urged on New York City’s “Superman” website is to ask gubernatorial candidates to support Common Core standards — which the state already adopted, Pallas notes.

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