The televised town hall after the Rockefeller Center screening of "Waiting for 'Superman' " was uplifting and frustrating simultaneously. After a screening, Davis Guggenheim joined Joe and Mika from the MSNBC Morning Show along with heroes of edreform Geoffrey Canada, Deborah Kenny and Michele Rhee.
To her credit, Randi Weingarten showed up knowing she'd get the short end of the stick; she insisted, "We can fix this system." When she squared off against Rhee, a subtle but important difference emerged. Randi wants a system that helps teachers "do the best they can," -- she starts with the adults as a given. Rhee starts with the kids and says, "Whatever it takes."
It is hard to take Randi seriously as a collaborator after she spent one million dollars to defeat Fenty leading to Rhee's likely dismissal.
Rhee was tough and on point, "When you look at the $100 million that New York City wastes on surplus teachers, you have to ask how is this good for kids?"
Geoff Cananda gets more powerful with every appearance. He's outraged that there is no downside to failure for the adults in failing school systems. He describes it like a massive fire and the staff leaves at 3 p.m.
John Legend, an exciting new edreformer calls education the civil right issue of our time, "If you care about justice and equality, you care about education."
Brian Williams hosted a patient two hour special with teachers before the screening. There was some hopeful dialog but just as much predictable defensiveness.
Near the end of the town hall, Joe Scarborough said, "it's not about charter schools." But it is, it's about a set of conditions that allows a great group of teachers to assemble around a clear and focused mission, it's about excellence in execution every day, it's about doing whatever it takes to help students succeed. Those conditions are very difficult to create in traditional public schools.
We'll take a few steps toward becoming an Education Nation if the conditions for success are created in a few more cities as a result of this movie. Legend summed it up, "These kids are our kids."