There was no DC miracle. Browbeating students and teachers into raising scores on state tests only makes them better at taking state tests, and reforming our schools in hopes of replicating an illusion is a petty crime against humanity.
You might not know how to play chess. Or you might think chess is boring. But that shouldn't stop you from seeing a documentary about some special middle school kids who are pretty good competitive chess players and anything but boring.
The end of the Chicago teachers' strike was but a temporary regional truce in the civil war that plagues the nation's public schools. There is no end in sight, in part because -- as often happens in wartime -- the conflict is increasingly being driven by profiteers.
It's one thing when documentaries like Davis Guggenheim's Waiting for 'Superman and Madeleine Sackler's much better The Lottery look at problems in public education and offer some solutions (such as charter schools).
With the 2013 mayoral election in New York likely to produce a Democratic mayor supported by the teachers' union, education reform seems likely to join other major political disagreements in current U.S. politics, where the extremists dominate the debate and moderates have no forum.
Too many state leaders are still failing to do what they can to put laws to work in the best interest of kids. They boast of "sound processes," "collaboration," and various interpretations of law. They avoid the "fierce urgency of now" when making decisions.
Almost a year after the film's premiere, the American educational system is still not living up to its potential. Sure, education reform was the phrase on the tip of everyone's tongue, but most of the fervor and commitment to educational change has all but subsided.
As nice as it feels to get something right the first time, there's no lesson in it. The accomplishments you'll be most proud of in life will be hard-fought, full of setbacks, errors, and -- yes -- failure.