The Portland Association of Teachers union has a pointed critique
in its most recent newsletter to members about a field trip that Portland Public Schools principals took last week to the movies.
Instead of attending an already planned district-wide meeting, dozens of principals went to a private screening of the new documentary Waiting for "Superman,"
which the teachers union calls an "anti-public education" film.
Here's the invitation that went out last week to district leaders from Superintendent Carole Smith's chief of staff, Zeke Smith:
Leadership Academy Participants,
A unique opportunity has come our way, and we would like for many of you to participate. You have probably heard some of the hype about the new movie "Waiting for Superman", directed by Davis Guggenheim, Academy Award Winning Director of "An Inconvenient Truth". It will soon open to a broader public audience in Portland, but we have the opportunity for a limited audience to view this movie together on Thursday morning during our Leadership Academy. A recent review described the film in the following way:
Many documentaries make you cry. They often present seemingly insolvable problems. But "Waiting for 'Superman,' " filmmaker Davis Guggenheim's scathing, moving critique of American public education, makes you actually want to do something after you dry your eyes.
We have a limited engagement at the Fox Theater, 846 SW Park Avenue, only available for 145 participants. Given the limited availability, we are inviting building principals and some district leadership. In the event that a principal is not available to attend, you can invite another administrator from your building.
Participants must meet at the Fox Tower Cinema no later than 9am, this Thursday. We will have a brief set of Leadership announcements prior to the show, and will have a facilitated discussion at the end as well. We will be finished by 11:30am.
All regular Leadership Academy participants are then asked to join for lunch at the Ambridge Center, and the Regional Leadership meetings will still occur starting at 1pm.
While we realize this is a significant change to the scheduled agenda for Leadership Academy, this seems an important opportunity not to miss. This movie will be much talked about, and shines a light on public education in America unlike any other. We believe it is incredibly valuable to ensure that principals have had an opportunity to see the movie and think about the implications, as parents and community members turn to you with questions and ideas. Additionally, the data this movie shares regarding student achievement nationally is very similar to the data we know from our own Milestones. As our most important and visible leaders, we know principals will be in many conversations instigated by this movie.
Please send questions to Debbie Howard and for participants please send an rsvp so that we know to anticipate you.