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Growing Leaders Blog

on Leading the Next Generation


Our Schools Are Waiting For Superman

Howard Schultz, the founder and CEO of Starbucks, has a rule for all his potential employees. He will not hire anyone who doesn’t like coffee. It makes sense. Why would you want a team member selling something they don’t’ even buy themselves. To do a good job, you probably need to like the product.

I have an idea. Why don’t we apply that same rule to school teachers. What if we said: No one is allowed to teach who doesn’t like kids. I like it; it has a nice ring to it. We should have thought of this a long time ago.

I recently watched “Waiting For Superman,” the highly acclaimed movie about the state of public education today. I highly recommend it. It is sobering. It’s actually downright depressing. I have said for years that most teachers I meet are my heroes — but the education system in our nation is broken. Badly.

The answer is good teachers who are gifted to teach and who love children. But, the teacher’s unions continue to prop up bad teachers allowing them to stay only because they have tenure. Many are horrible. Middle school kids nationwide score between 25-35% in reading proficiency. It has been proven that with good teachers, every child can be proficient. It is not difficult… unless you have someone teaching in the classroom that would better fill the role of an auto mechanic.

The sad truth is — the teacher’s unions scream that kids deserve good schools, but those unions aren’t about kids at all. They are all about themselves; preserving their jobs. I don’t know of another profession that allows bad employees to keep their jobs. They get fired. It’s the only way to keep the industry competitive. Unfortunately, we are forced to allow bad teachers to remain in the classroom, while little countries all over the world pass us up. If public schools played by the same rules companies do, they’d be out of business.

I left the movie just sick about the unnecessary condition of our schools. I am going to do everything in my power to change what I can.

Your comments?



  1. Tomi on October 26, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Are you a public school teacher? Do you know one personally? Because if you did, you’d get another story.

  2. Kent on November 9, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    I am a public school teacher.

    We must recognize that the documentary is telling one side of the story. There is truth in the movie, but many are half truths. What is the fuller picture? I think we need to address the family structure as well. The failure of the family is what is hurting children the most. Broken homes, single parents, absent fathers…this has dramatically changed over the last decade and the effect is being seen in education.

    You say that with good teachers, every child can be proficient. I would offer that children need good parents as well. Students can be successful with good parents, even if they have a poor teacher.

    Let’s not put all of the blame on teachers. Teachers and schools were never meant to fulfill the role of the family.

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Our Schools Are Waiting For Superman