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Affirmative Action and School Inequality (Online discussion)

April 24, 2012

WHAT IS AFFIRMATIVE ACTION; HOW DOES Waiting for Superman DEMONSTRATE THE IMPORTANCE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION TO LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD

 

Ends April 27, 2012

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57 Comments
  1. Bryan Navarro permalink

    Affirmative action according to the marriam-webster dictionary is “an active effort to improve the employment or educational opportunities of members of minority groups and women; also : a similar effort to promote the rights or progress of other disadvantaged persons”. In the Documentary we watched in class “Waiting for Superman” they attempt to support the idea of Affirmative Action by following the education of various students who would be considered disadvantaged persons or minority groups. Statistics shown in the video opened my eyes to the failing American public school system in many residential areas and suburbs around the country. The students being interviewed in the documentary generally came from low income not educated families and entire communities. What I saw as being the main problem to the failing education is the lack of motivation to learn that many of the kids had. People around them who didn’t receive a lot of education would be more likely to motivate the kids to work and get a job to raise money instead of continuing on to higher levels of education, and this could be a cause of the high drop out rates shown in the communities from the film. Once the students in the film became motivated and interested in learning that is when they told the crew they were doing better in school and in life in general. The film showed very little optimism to the future education of the students due to their disadvantage of attending failing public schools instead of private or top tier public schools.

    • Payden Bjornesatd permalink

      Bryan makes some good points about the documentary in class. I agree that there is a lack of motivation coming from some of the students in underprivileged schools, however i do not agree that this is why these schools are suffering from high drop out rates. Schools such as Roosevelt High school lack what it takes to motivate students. The resources just aren’t there and there is a tradition of dropping out more than succeeding. If you were brought up in this environment the stress of graduating and going to college would be significantly lower. Why sign up for failure. Even if you do graduate, you still may not be qualified for college so whats the point? The lack of Affirmative Action is why these schools are suffering, not because the students do not want to be successful.

  2. How does Schmidt define affirmative action and what does he reveal about resources, inequality, segregation, state violence beyond individual motivation?

  3. Diana Hermansen permalink

    Affirmative action is a set of policies that are put in place to promote the inclusion of all people and in the process addressing concerns of stereotypes and race. An example of affirmative action is the movie Freedom Writers. Hillary Swank was an educator in a school that the movie Waiting for Superman would have called a drop out factory. The kids were from many different backgrounds and almost none of them had any intention to finish school. Her method of teaching was one that didn’t treat these students like they were automatically going to fail. She taught her classes just like any other high school and expected the same standards from her students that any other non dropout factory school would have. However she still integrated concerns of race and background. She couldn’t just ignore the fact that she taught in a low income area. She educated them with high standards yet integrated education of issues that personally affected her students. Her students eventually proceeded to produce good SAT scores. To have educators that teach with affirmative action levels out the playing field in itself.

    Waiting for superman demonstrates the importance of affirmative action in a variety of ways. The Bush administration tried to complete the almost impossible task of producing a perfect proficiency throughout the country in math during a certain time frame. Im pretty sure they failed, but it shown a light on the level that a lot of our schools are at and that it needs to be changed immediately. A 12% reading score in DC is mind blowing especially since its our capital and 2000 dropout factories across the country should not be acceptable. Waiting for Superman highlighted that there are many students in low income communities that are ambitious and willing and ready to learn and accelerate their life. They have dreams and goals. However when they are in a neighborhood with dropout factories, the chance that these ambitious students will dropout of school is very high. However when affirmative action is put into place, these students have a chance to move forward and stay interested in school. This in turn will bring a better name to these lower income schools and level out education a little at a time. Eventually the dropout rate will fall and dropout factories will decrease.

    • Karlie Hall permalink

      Diana, I really like your example of Hillary Swank from Freedom Writers and how she was a prime motivator to encouraging the kids in her classroom to succeed. Her school was seen as a “drop out factory” and because of the impact she made she encouraged her students to achieve and become just as educated as those who may have gone to a different school with a greater graduation rate and less drop out rate. I believe that certain teachers can impact students and motivate them to succeed at whatever they do, and these schools that are seen to be “drop out factory” schools are certainly the schools that need these excellent educators the most. I think by providing benefits like willingly caring and motivating teachers to schools who are seen to be failing is a great example of affirmative action in that it is leveling out the playing field, by providing everyone an equal opportunity within their education.

  4. I have a question do other states around the country have what we call in spokane the school for the misbehaved? The school is named Havermale in spokane and kids who miss too many days of school, aren’t passing adequate amounts of classes, or are in trouble with the school or the law even are sent. It is ran just like any other school but it helps push these kids to get an education since you can’t just quit going to school until you turn 18 and the system pushes you out if you haven’t shown progress. Do other states have these programs too?

  5. Reed Clarridge permalink

    White families, with generally more net worth than black families, get more of a choice in education, because they are able to move around and set up shop in the areas with the better schools. The state of public schools in this country is static and most “failure factories” are in urban areas where higher percentages of minorities are located, due to systemic and institutional racism the inequality appeared. These schools tend to stay failure factories, while the higher white percentage schools maintain last year’s status quo.
    Waiting for superman demonstrates that primary education in public schools is not equal. Judging college admittance based only on numbers, when there is a big difference in the high school education one receives is provides the same fallacy they make against affirmative action. What the argument against affirmative action deconstructs into is the wealthy elite arguing for the variables on the college applications which benefit them, and not others as much. I pose the argument back that SAT scores can be just as racial as the select your ethnicity box, due to the dominant culture and background in creating the test, as well as the resource distribution when it comes to funding tutors or prep courses. The message of affirmative action has been distorted by the dominant ideology into a perversion of its intent. While its purpose is to counteract natural disparities and inequalities, it’s been painted as a system creating inequality. Naturally, the dominant class, which benefits from the current system, will oppose anything which disrupts their monopoly cultural power. Perhaps that’s why we never see any hardcore public education reformers.

    • Payden Bjornesatd permalink

      I agree with Reed that the main problem associated with the public school system stems back to institutional racism and especially white privilege. White students, in large part, are exposed to many privileged benefits which include better schools with better educational programs. This plays into the system of institutional and economic racism, where good schools are often found in middle to high-class white neighborhoods while poorer inner city schools, populated by a greater abundance of minorities, suffer from a lack of educational programs and poor public schools. As Reed mentions; there is a monopoly on the school system and the ones in charge, whites, aim to keep it the same, which is why we see only limited reforms and thus limited progress.

  6. Anne Kenney permalink

    Affirmative action is a policy with the intention to level out the field of education by treating all institutions and the people in them equally no matter what the facts are about it or even what the reputation says it is. It promotes the inclusion of all people. The film waiting for superman emphasized the point that the policy of sending your kids to the neighborhood school is essentially creating segregation in today’s society. Every neighborhood has a predominant race. In public schools there are schools which have to reputation of “failure factories” these school as noted in the film “Waiting for Superman” are primarily in the urban areas, and in these schools the majority of students attending are minority groups. The only reason this is because parents are sending their kids to the neighborhood public school instead of sending them to a private school or even to a different public school in a different neighborhood. This is an ongoing process because the so called “better” high school run out of opening to join the school.
    The students are then forced to go the school in their near their home, causing more segregation indirectly.
    In the film it highlighted that politicians want to solve this problem immediately and with a one hundred percent turn around. This is a nice idea however, the likely hood of anything happening immediately is unreasonable, it is an on going process which will take time, and the people to keep working at it.

    • beth buechner permalink

      I really liked your statement of how the school system is creating modern day segregation. There are enough schools for all children to receive an education, but all schools are not created equal. This idea also plays into the “seperate but equal” standards of the civil rights era. Segregation is occuring evryday in this country. As we talked about in class on Monday, white parents consider racial demographics of the nearby school when choosing what area to live in. In schools with higher populations of caucasian students, the schools tend to be wealthier, more active parents, better paid teachers, and so on. Even though schools are integrated and people like to claim segregation is over, white students attend schools that are on average about 74 – 78 percent caucasian. That is what I like to call modern day segregation.

  7. Todd Mehrkens permalink

    Currently there is a huge inequality with school systems. Because there is so much inequality in the quality of education a student gets, it adds to segregation in society. In order to try and fix this problem, the government made the affirmative action policy. The affirmative action policy provides an equal opportunity in education, employment and upward mobility for all qualified persons. It prohibits discrimination in employment because of age, color, handicap, marital status, national origin, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation. Also it is used to promote the full realization of equal employment opportunity through a positive, continuing, result-oriented program of affirmative action throughout the University. The main purpose of it is to try and give everyone an equal opportunity to succeed. A downside of this policy is that when students who were educated poorly, but got into the university, will most likely struggle because they are competing with students who got in the school for a quality school. This competing groups will create segregation.

    • Taylor Bertsch permalink

      Do you believe that affirmative action is being adequately represented in ‘quality’ schools though? Out of curiosity too, do you believe think that just because a school is deemed ‘quality’ means that the students from those schools are of a higher intellect? Or do you believe that a school that has better statistics represents the ‘quality’ more adequately?

    • Payden Bjornesatd permalink

      I agree that segregation and inequality in the quality of schools and the students who are privileged to attend them leads directly to segregation in society. The best schools are closest to higher better class neighborhoods primarily housing whites while lower class minorities are often predisposed to poorer schools. This perpetuates the notion of the rich getting richer and the poor poorer. This segregation of education leads to a large gap in the choices and opportunities students are faced with following education. In large part, whites advance while those underprivileged are held to underprivileged standards of education and success

  8. Katie Beason permalink

    WHAT IS AFFIRMATIVE ACTION; HOW DOES Waiting for Superman DEMONSTRATE THE IMPORTANCE OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION TO LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD

    Affirmative action refers to policies that take factors including race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or national origin into consideration for college admissions and employment attempting to help increase representation of these groups, which are often underrepresented otherwise. The main attempt of this is to reduce discrimination, trying to give everyone an equal opportunity to succeed.
    In the film, this issue was addressed through discussing how public schools vary in quality. It showed and discussed schools called “dropout factories”, some where they would loose 800 students between 9th and 10th grade due to dropping out. The film emphasized that, because those who could afford to go to private schools went, those who went to public school were often not receiving quality education and this was holding them back before they could even reach places where affirmative action could help them succeed.
    In my opinion, the school district should stop trying to overhaul the whole system as once, because in the past many of the leaders trued to do this a failed. There is no easy fix to this problem. However, as the movie stated, a lot of these issue arose from a failing neighborhood. Maybe, based on this idea, they should start by trying to fix the neighborhood as a process to fixing to “dropout factory” schools. If starting at the school isn’t working, maybe a more well-rounded approach between the school and the community simultaneously would begin to be beneficial to helping this issue.

  9. Justin Ramos permalink

    Affirmative action has been defined time and time again, so i feel like we have a general understanding about it. However, let’s examine the need for affirmative action and it’s importance in low-income minority communities. As we saw in the video, there is this general lack of concern for education as previously stated. Why aren’t students engaged or enthused about education in these communities? It could be the barriers that prevent them from seeing the bigger picture when it comes to a life outside the ghetto. Many of these children do not have the ability to see a life of possibility outside the enclosure of projects, and the negative environment they live in. We have to understand it is not easy to break down barriers and reach out when their is no support, or any indication of how to attain a higher education. These children are not faced with play time and school like middle class children are, but with trying to get to and from school safely, the amounts of illegal activities happening around them, parents struggling for money and food; even parents dying. It is important to analyze all social factors when discussing affirmative action, because it shows just how disadvantaged some of these students are. It ties in with privilege, the life of an upper class white child attending all the best schools, receiving tutoring, and having a multitude of resources at his or her disposal can not be compared with a minority student with none of these advantages, it is simply not fair. Affirmative action is often perceived as reverse-discrimination, and that it is unfair to white students that “deserve” certain positions within admissions and the work place, however, the minority population are born into a disadvantage. Affirmative action does not even out the playing field, it more or less helps the disadvantage attain certain goals, otherwise not possible, due to socio-economic circumstances that many privileged Americans can not or will not see.

  10. Greg Wandro permalink

    The purpose of Affirmative Action is to level the playing field for everyone. The video Waiting for Superman, talks about how the children in the video work very hard and get good grades, but the schools they are going to have a ridiculously high dropout rate. This means that those students are not getting the same quality of education as students who go to school in Beverly Hills. Affirmative Action is trying to level that playing field. While Affirmative Action does not let under qualified or unnecessary students into a school or be hired for a job, it makes it so that a student who went to a low quality high school has a better chance of getting into college, or getting a job. The SAT was created so that the children of Alumni and professors would not get into Princeton or Harvard based on the fact that they had connections. Affirmative Action is trying to do the same thing, but is having a difficult time. There are myths about Affirmative Action where white people will not be hired because an under qualified minority applied for the same job. That is not the case at all. Affirmative Action is trying to level out the playing field and give the disadvantaged some advantage. As David said in class, given the unemployment rate of minorities and the employment rate of whites, only about 1% of white people would be affected by Affirmative Action. It is as simple as, it is not fair to compare a student who went to a prestigious private school and had extensive tutoring, to a student who went to a “failure factory” or a very poor public school and could not afford tutors. That is why there is Affirmative Action.

  11. Jake Hiller permalink

    Understanding the difference between affirmative action and quotas is something that is extremely important. It is very easy today very ill-informed people to believe the two are synonymous. Quota’s, as stated in class today, are illegal. Affirmative action has to do with policies including race,gender,sex,socio-economic background, etc. Affirmative action is a glorious step that has been taken in today’s day in age because it attempts to set moral obligations that encourage the acceptance of diversity in the workplace.

    • Taylor Bertsch permalink

      What kind of steps have you seen that have been taken towards affirmative action? I mean the idea of affirmative action is great in its entirety but do you truly believe that it is being represented in the American society the way that it was intended?

  12. Alex Carkner permalink

    My initial opinions of Affirmative Action came from my readings of Thomas Sowell, an Economist from Stanford University. Instead of looking at the intents of Affirmative Action he looks at the actual results from and takes additional observations from the fiscal aspect of the legislation. While the intent of Affirmative Action means well, Sowell is not convinced that the results are achieving success. I had very strong opinions of Affirmative Action coming into this class, and it took some hard work to open my mind to the idea of it being successful and effective. But, in class today, I appreciated how it was stated that it is not a total success, it is merely just a step in the right direction of equality. There is a problem in the admissions process which was shown very clearly through the movie we watched in class, Waiting for Superman. It is true that there are groups of students that face challenges when trying to get into colleges that they want because of their backgrounds, upbringing, and education and these students DO deserve a chance to succeed. The acceptance system for universities is corrupt and catered to a certain type of student, those of which do not always fit in the minority category. There are qualified students that do not get into school because of things like SAT scores when the test itself is outdated and does not necessarily show correlation between academic ability and performance on the test. However, I do agree with Thomas Sowell in his belief that Affirmative Action as it is now is inefficient. Universities are still designed the same as they were before, much like the SAT’s. The curriculum is based off the style of schooling that students with privilege are accustomed to which then leads to failure among the students who were admitted with Affirmative Action attempts. Education has a lot of flaws and while Affirmative Action is attempting to provide a solution, I do not know if it is the best choice at this point in the recovery process.

    • Julia Balaban permalink

      While reading your post, you made a very valid point about how Affirmative Action does mean well, but yes it does have its flaws. There are so many loop holes that could appear with this new move but who knows until it is put into place. Every student does deserve a chance to succeed and the chance at a well rounded education. But should a child suffer because of their parents standing? There is a grey area between wealthy families who can provide as much as a student needs to succeed compared to a family that doesn’t have enough money for a pristine school but their child does deserve a good education. So, with that the affirmative action policy can help with that middle grey area to help kids gain the education they need while still not over stepping children who have paid more to get extra help or a private school vs. a public school. In the end, the affirmative action plan needs to make the public schools equal when it comes to their education and give kids the education they need to succeed and actually have a successful chance at going to a university.

  13. Julia Balaban permalink

    Affirmative Action is Employment programs required by federal statutes and regulations designed to remedy discriminatory practices in hiring minority group members; i.e., positive steps designed to eliminate existing and continuing discrimination, to remedy lingering effects of past discrimination, and to create systems and procedures to prevent future discrimination; commonly based on population percentages of minority groups in a particular area. Factors considered are race, color, sex, creed, and age. Which was based on the freedictionary.com legal definition. Schools all around the United States are very unequal in my mind. After watching the videos in class, I proved my thought right. The video explained that children in today’s day to do not all have equal learning rights. In one of the statistics that Michelle Rhee and the school’s principle said was that in four years 60,000 kids go through Roosevelt High School in Washington DC, and by the time its graduation 40,000 kids have dropped out. That leaves only 20,000 that have actually graduated with a diploma. I am astonished. Growing up and being fortunate enough to go to a high graduation rate high school was a blessing. We need affirmative action to equal out the level of schooling that children are going through. Having this high of a dropout rate while other schools have nearly no dropout rates is not fine. The downside to the affirmative action policy are that students who did not get the proper education and do go on to college, they will struggle far more than students who got a better education and who go on to the same college. Again, in my opinion I believe that a school that is on the rise is because the neighborhood is as well. If the neighborhood is suffering, chances are the school is too. The importance of education is beyond what anyone can imagine. In another one of my classes we discussed that not having a further education outside of high school leads to having children at an earlier age and not being able to provide for them as well as if you did go further and got a better education and had a family later in life.

  14. Karlie Hall permalink

    Affirmative action is the goal to set out a positive increase in the number of minorities in certain institutions, such as schools. This is seen in the film “Waiting for Superman” in that people who grow up in certain areas and/or cant go to a private school, may not be receiving the same education and support as those kids who are seen to be much more privileged. In the film it discusses the impact of the education system in the United States and places an emphasis on the teachers who control this system. The movie discusses the fact that bad teachers are partially responsible to the effort and future of the kids going through their classroom and moving up into higher levels of education. A fact that was stated was that Roosevelt High School one of the lowest drop out rate schools, was seen to have approximately 800 kids drop out after their freshman year proceeding to their sophomore year. The film discusses that children are being placed in a lottery system in order to be placed into the schools their families want them to attend instead of these schools that are potentially costing them their future. These lottery systems are purely based on luck rather then testing and grades. How is it fair that these kids future is dependent on the luck of the draw? The Waiting for Superman project that was based on the film has a mission to make sure that every child is receiving the greatest possible education they can get. When looking at their website and researching what this campaign entails I found that they have set goals to achieve this overall goal. “1. Setting academic standards that are on par with the world’s best 2. Recruiting and rewarding great teachers 3. Creating and nurturing excellent schools and 4. Increasing literacy rates” (http://www.waitingforsuperman.com/action/mission) While these goals seem a little out of reach and look may take time for the goals to actually be achieved, I believe in the fact that one teacher or motivator can make a difference in a child’s or a group of children’s futures. So with a little work and motivation students all over could possibly receive the same education and possibilities that those going to more higher recognized schools. But where do we find the kind of teachers willing to change a group of students motivation and encourage them through their success in school?

  15. Bryce Jackson permalink

    Affirmative action is a set of policies that are put in place to promote the inclusion of all people and in the process addressing concerns of stereotypes and race. In the Documentary we watched in class “Waiting for Superman” they attempt to support the idea of Affirmative Action by following the education of various students who didn’t have that high of education or minority groups. Statistics shown in the video made me realize that the American public school system in many residential areas and suburbs around the country are failing quiet a bit. The students being interviewed in the documentary generally came from low income not educated families and entire communities.

    • Pieter-James Benedictus permalink

      When you say that they are failing quiet a bit, in what areas are they failing in? I feel that ever since the no child left behind Act they have actually done a better job in making an effort to help public schools, and while the students that are being interviewed are in low income areas, what does it tell you about the high income students?

      • Bryce Jackson permalink

        They are failing quiet a bit by the low income students aren’t getting the same education benefits as a high income family would. The high income has their parents who went to college and have a degree, compared to a low income who’s parents didn’t go to a college and got a job. They have more resources and make it seem that low income kids don’t care as much in school as others. High income students have a better success rate because their parents are a better resource and have a type of college degree.

      • Hailey Schur permalink

        In the movie, even though there is No Child Left Behind Act, students in almost every state are not passing their grade level of reading or mathematics. It showed on average that ~13% of the students aren’t passing their grade level curriculum.

      • Alex Vo permalink

        This has nothing to do with Affirmative Action. This is all based on poverty and socio-economic inequality. Yes this is terrible, but it not is going to change anytime soon. How is the government put more money into education when our country is in severe debt?

      • Alex: What do you mean it has nothing to do with affirmative action — children go to schools with very different levels of resources and affirmative action becomes one of the mechanisms to reconcile these inequalities. Federal debt has little to do with educational spending given that it comes from state/property taxes

  16. Tucker Creek permalink

    The documentary “Waiting for ‘Superman'” helped show that our biggest flaw in the country is one of our worst and that is our education system. The fact that our education system is ranked in the bottom third of the world is a main reason why our economy is in trouble we are so focused for short term fixes and how to repair it that we forget that the children may be the best way to fix it. Affirmative action is to help students that may not usually be considered for a job or an admission into a school increase their chances that they succeed. The film helped show that their are many schools throughout the nation that do not help the students as much as they should and I believe that has to do with teacher unions. The fact that you can not fire a teacher who is neither interested nor willing to help students is a major flaw in the system. Also the fact that all teachers are paid the same and can not be enticed by performance based incentives is another problem. Why should teachers not be able to get a bonus if their students perform exceptional or if they help a student improve their grades and help his future. Colleges and universities may get scared off by students that go to these crappy high schools know as “dropout factories” but that is not the students fault, they are born in that neighborhood and have no choice to attend that school. If a student gets good grades in there I believe that is greater than a student with the same grades that go to a better school. The education system especially in the elementary and middle schools needs to be fixed. Affirmative action helps level the playing field because most of these troubled schools are in rough neighborhoods where the majority of residents are minorities. If there was no affirmative action and they did not get accepted into a college but have the grades it would not be their fault but rather the schools since they couldn’t provide them with the education. Something needs to be done about these problems and I think the best way to start would be to get rid of unions, because the documentary said the unions were created to help women teachers get equal pay as men. Since that is no longer a problem, or at least as big of one, teachers that get their tenure or know they can not get fired sit back relax and won’t teach because they know they get paid no matter how their students do. Affirmative action helps the students that are not so lucky to get a good education from a good school district get into college and show them that they do have potential and are capable of doing great things. I like what Michelle Rhee is doing and hope she succeeds so the rest of the states can follow her footsteps and help fix one of our biggest problems in our country.

  17. Rachael Gorrie permalink

    Affirmative action is a set of policies that try to give access to education and work to groups that have been historically discriminated against like social/ethnic/racial groups. Waiting for Superman demonstrates the importance of affirmative action to level the playing field by complicating the narrative about kids being the source of their own problems in education. The movie shows a new way to think about education and gave evidence about how non-traditional causes could be factors as to why we have issues with education. For example, the movie shows how teachers could be why our schools are failing. It also talks about how if teachers are failing students, this may be the cause of why students are dropping out and thus that the long-standing belief about bad neighborhoods being the cause of bad schools is flipped on its head and viewers are challenged to think about the fact that bad schools might be the cause of bad neighborhoods.
    With this idea we can see that affirmative action is emphasized because it shows how these failing schools that are comprised of a majority of minorities, are getting the short end of the stick and how if we integrate schools with affirmative action, then the playing field will be leveled and the schools that hog all of the resources, AP classes, great teachers, and funding will be open to minorities, who attend failing schools without these amenities.

    • Taylor Bertsch permalink

      I entirely agree with you that in some ways teachers are failing to adequately help students learn and retain as much as possible. However, do you believe that their pay may have some contributing factors as to why the teachers are not teaching as well? Possibly other influences, like they are under too much pressure from their administrators? Food for thought.

      • Hailey Schur permalink

        I also agree, I feel as if teachers who don’t go to higher educated universities end up teaching in lower income areas and get exhausted with students not being educated enough for their grade level. It’s as if the teachers aren’t trying to get everyone at their reading or math grade level land almost just passing them from grade to grade just so then they don’t have to deal worth them anymore and it won’t make them look like bad teachers for failing students.

  18. beth buechner permalink

    Affirmative action includes steps to eliminate discrimination based on race, class, gender, ability, etc. Affirmative action is steps in the right direction to increase representation of minorities in businesses, employment, and education. It is the idea to even the economic playing field and have equal opportunities for all. However, as we can see in day to day life, we are far from equality for all. For instance though affirmative action does help some, it only helps the elite within a minority group. Affirmative action does help minority groups such as African Americans, but it favors those African Americans in the middle and upper classes. This obvious favoritism is shown through the school systems throughout our country. For those in the working and lower classes, public school is the only option for education. Where you live decides what district you fit into and then that district feeds into a certain public school. For those who have money, they have the option of sending their child to a private school with well paid teachers, a library filled with books, a gymnasium, and so on. Another option for those families with money is to move into a different neighborhood, or suburb with a better school system then the one they were previously living in. Unfortunately, for those who do not have money, they are stuck living and going to school in a system which is failing. No money means no choice and these people must know depend on a failing system to educate their children.
    These failing systems are corrupt and unfair with schools that are overcrowded and have lazy teachers. A bad teacher will only cover 50 percent of material in a year, whereas a good teacher can cover up to 150 percent of material in the same time! When a child has a bad teacher they fall behind, then they may get another bad teacher and fall even more behind. Yes there are schools in all districts for all children to attend, however all these schools are far from equal institutions. The Kipp schools are schools placed in areas of great poverty. These schools have longer school days, school on Saturday, and have teachers who truly care about their students. Unlike their neighboring public schools who are failing, Kipp schools are excelling and all students are on track. If there were better and more opportunities in low income areas, such as the Kipp schools, there would be less crime and poverty. It is not failing neighborhoods which cause failing schools, but rather the failing schools which are resulting in failing neighborhoods. Many drop out of high school because they need to help support their family by working. In places like Pennsylvania, 68 percent of inmates are high school dropouts. The cost of sending someone to prison for four years is $132,000. For that price, the government could send a child to private school from kindergarten through high school for $107,900, leaving about $24,000 left over for college expenses.
    The education system needs to be reworked and started from scratch. Test results in math and reading have flat lined since the 1970s, even though we are spending twice as much on each child. So shouldn’t the results be twice as good? The curriculum needs to be re-worked and teachers need to be evaluated on a regular basis. Teachers unions should also be abolished and then reworked back into the system as a new kind of union. A teacher should be paid more if they are exceeding expectations and all students are on track. A bad teacher should also be fired if they are not performing at the level they need to be. Tenure is something that should be earned through a grueling process after a teacher has been working at one institution for ten years or more. Affirmative action is about equality for all and equal opportunities. If our school systems are corrupt and unfair, it is teaching children at a young age that life is also unfair only feeding into the larger cycle of inequality. All people should be given the same opportunities and equal chances. This starts with equal education opportunities.

  19. Pieter-James Benedictus permalink

    Affirmative Action is a myth in my eyes, something that a lot of people don’t want to see this system work, and always look for ways to make it something that doesn’t exists. Thats why i consider it to be a myth, look at all the things people say about it, how it affects the white community and jobs, and how it isn’t helping woman when all these things they are saying is false. Watching Waiting for superman tells us about how communities that are in the poor side have a lower rate of graduation and how they spend more money for public school vs private schools.

    • Jennifer Shoff permalink

      There is definitely still inequality in our world but that doesn’t mean that Affirmative Action is a myth. Although women are still getting paid less than men, huge strides have been made and now the workplace is a much less discriminating place. It will take generations and generations to overcome inequality but I believe Affirmative Action has helped tremendously in leveling the playing field.

    • Briana Nelson permalink

      Waiting for superman explains more than just how “poor” communities have low graduation rates and how much money is being spent in schools. This film expresses numerous issues within the school system that you seem to have missed. One major topic discussed throughout Waiting for Superman was the idea of under performing teachers and the need to reform schools to better

  20. Victoria Kolytiris permalink

    Affirmative action is is the policies that are taken that have to do with race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and national origin to help benefit one or all of these groups into different areas such as education, business and employment. I think that overall this is a great idea but honestly does not seem to even work. As one can see it does not work and there is still so much segregation in the world and in our country alone, even in the Northwest. It is honestly so sad to me how a white and black person of the same stature, education and economic class would be treated differently just because the color of someones skin. When someone has no money they cannot afford to send their children to a good enough school with good education so they are forced to attend a school with teachers who do not care and do not want to put the extra effort into teaching the misfortuned children. Teachers need to constantly be evaluated just as much as the curriculum in order to keep the public school system going in a methodical way.

  21. Jennifer Shoff permalink

    Affirmative action is a set of policies instilled in workplaces and higher education to help stop discrimination and level the playing field. Although Affirmative Action has done a great deal to help our society, it is often looked upon negatively.The myths that surround affirmative action far too abundant. I’ll admit that before I learned what Affirmative Action really was I thought those myths were true. It comes as a relief to know that Affirmative Action really has made a difference in trying to equal the playing field. I had never really thought about the disadvantages kids have if they go to an underpriveleged high school. Help was always easily accessible at my high school and I never once had to worry about the SATs or getting into college. Waiting for Superman opened my eyes to real life kids who simply won’t get the help or attention they need to succeed in school. The public schools in our country need some serious help that may take years to come.

  22. Taylor Bertsch permalink

    I believe the plan of affirmative action means well in context but outside of words there is little to show from this plan. Affirmative action to me is trying to boast equality, but what the American system has a way of suppressing equality even with affirmative action. In the movie ‘Waiting for Superman’ I saw that all of the ‘dropout factories’ were in the middle of poverty stricken areas. Honestly it seems to be a self perpetuating cycle, of both students flunking and school district leaders dropping out of the race. What this movie really did a good job at though, was showing where the responsibility lays. The responsibility for dropout factories lays in all of us, meaning the government for not putting enough money into education, teachers, students and parents alike.

    I think that the cycle of students dropping out of school will only continue to grow worse until people start getting their acts together. For example, if there was more incentive for the students to learn, somehow incorporate fun into learning, which is something that I believe teachers lack thereof. School districts should be adequately funded, thereby giving teachers that drive to push the students further into their education. Affirmative action needs to really take place here, in setting the lines of equality for all public schools for children, future generations depend on this. Much of this goes without saying, but nothing will ever get better until ‘equality’ is actually established, and it is clear to me that these schools are well underfunded, which explains why teachers could sometimes care less about their jobs if there is no money on the table. The problem of equality is still yet in words, but when it is actually transferred into equal opportunity for all of the kids from any school district across the US, then it will actually be worth something. Until then, the story of ‘Waiting on Superman’ will remain a myth.

  23. Susan Decker permalink

    Affirmative Action is a policy in which factors such as race, gender and sexual orientation are taken into consideration to benefit an underrepresented group for things such as employment and school admissions. It is also seen as a way to counteract discrimination.
    Waiting for Superman shows Americans that the school system is not a perfect as some may have thought. Terming low quality high schools “dropout factories” is an eye opener to say the least. Over half of the students that are originally enrolled as freshmen into these high school drop out before their sophomore year, making it so that the number of graduates of these schools becomes less than 50% of each class, though these schools are in densely populated areas such as Los Angeles. Another problem with the schools presented in Waiting for Superman is that a majority of the students in these schools are pushed through the system and often enter high school with a fifth grade reading level. It was shocking to find out that the worst numbers were found in Washington D.C., our nation’s capitol. The percentage of eighth graders in Washington D.C who are proficient in math and reading are 12%.
    Without affirmative action the students who are set to attend these dropout factories will not stand a chance at getting an equal education to a student that attends a high quality school much less, gain acceptance to a university.

    • Trevor Harper permalink

      I also found the high school dropout factories as an eye opener. It shows that affirmative action has a long ways to go in completing its purpose. Those that are put into the high school dropout factories by chance are by no means being put on a level playing field. There are still kids that are in privileged situations that receive much better education from k-12.

  24. Tyler Fry permalink

    Affirmative action is mainly just policies that its main focus is to give equal access to all people no matter what color their skin is. This can include education, employment, sholarships and many other things in this country. This was put into place because historically, social, racial or ethnic groups have been kept on the bottom of the list for things and America believes everyone should be treated equal and all have the same rights, which I believe in as well. In the video, “waiting for superman”, affirmative action would be very helpful and very fair to these kids in the video. This documentary follows youth around low level cities that exceed very well in their respective schools but do not get equal treatment when it comes to getting into colleges. Many colleges will take into consideration the persons school they went to and how good it is when it comes to selecting kids for their school. If a child has a 4.0, takes AP courses and is involved in extracurricular activities but the school they attend has an extremely high dropout rate then the chances of them being selected to a good college drops tremendously compared to those that go to a much better school. Affirmative action is very important in these situations because if schools were forced to start picking people more based off their individual achievements instead of focusing so much on the school they attend,the rates at which poorer children were admitted into college would go up in my opinion. Making sure everyone is treated equal and the rates at which people were admitted to schools was equal, than kids from poorer schools that achieved there, would be able to actually continue their lives through school and have a good future. Without affirmative action, these kids that do well in school would have no chance at going somewhere in life just because of the school they attended. In a lot of cases as well the high school that kids attend is not up to them it is determined by where they live and they get assigned a school. This is even more unfair to kids that succeed in scool which makes affirmative action even more important in America.

  25. Patrick O'Callaghan permalink

    Affirmative action refers to an attempt made by institutions and employers to combat some of the effects of giving preference to white males. It can refer to religion, gender, or race. In certain situations it is confused with “quotas,” however quotas are illegal. In some situations it is needed, such as in the examples seen in Waiting for Superman. The schools are termed Dropout Factories due to half of the freshman classes dropping out by the time they graduate. With the help of affirmative action, public schools in the LA area would be more equal, with a fair distribution of wealth, leading to better funding and a better overall education in public schools. One of the places it has been implemented but doesn’t work as effectively is in University. Students are often admitted for the sake of increasing diversity in University, with less emphasis on the merit of each student, on more importance placed on marketing statistics for the university.

    • Alex Loper 11010258 permalink

      How do you think affirmative action would make public schools in LA equal? What would it actually do? You mention AA would cause a fair distribution of wealth but how would that be a result of AA? Neighborhoods in poverty will not get out of poverty simply because their children are attending college.

  26. John Pally permalink

    Affirmative action is the attempt for the US to level the playing field between the races, or at least trying to. This can involves: race, gender, and religion. Waiting for Superman shows the importance of Affirmative action leveling the playing field by, showing how easy some white families have it compared no non-whites (I say this because generally white families have more wealth). The richer families have more schooling options because they can afford private schools and also move and with this they give they child a better education and more potential to thrive in life while the middle class- low class family cannot afford to send their child to a good school nor can they move into an area where there is a good school district. I feel that affirmative action can level the playing field, but it is going to take time.

  27. Affirmative action is something that has to do with trying to help the minority get jobs and get a college education. In point of view I do not see this as a bad thing but rather a good thing because if the minority is educated than what help would they need from government assistance program n the long run. I think people should think about the future and see this as a temporary solution but not a permit one. Some people have a problem with Affirmative action because they believe that jobs are going to be going people who are less educated and perhaps are also less skilled then those who say “they deserve those jobs”. Even though Affirmative action has help in many was buy helping minority and women also find jobs and get a better education, but should not be seen as the main solution for say more like a temporary one.

  28. Hailey Schur permalink

    Affirmative action takes in factors including race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or national origin into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group in areas of employment, education, and business. In the movie Waiting for Superman, it shows the level of the playing field by students of different levels of income and background all have the same goal of going to college. With their poor school though, not many are able to graduate at the level of college acceptance or even graduate high school. While more white dominant areas have a higher chance of going to four year universities.

  29. Briana Nelson permalink

    Waiting for superman demonstrates the importance of affirmative action because it narrates a portion of America’s inequality. It is sad to see bright, young kids who love and want to learn being failed due to our poor education system. A child should not have to get into a good school based upon “luck”. Good, thriving schools should be offered to anyone. After watching the film, is seems like there is a huge need for the modification of contracts and rules for what states can do about ineffective teachers.
    The fact that many white families consider race when sending their children to schools and picking neighborhoods to live in say a lot about what really makes schools unequal. In what ways can affirmative action help the integration of schools if so many schools are already segregated? Is white parents have the options to send their children elsewhere, what makes you think they won’t continue to do so just because better teachers are teaching?
    Is it more of a race issue or because of teachers?

  30. Trevor Harper permalink

    Affirmative action is an effort to try and level the playing field for underrepresented groups based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Affirmative action is aimed to be proactive in regards to leveling the playing field and providing equal opportunities for everyone. The documentary waiting for superman does a great job demonstrating the importance of affirmative actions. I found the example of how certain high schools are deemed to be dropout factories very eye opening. It shows that the playing field is not level, that some children are put in a situation where they are set up to fail. Without affirmative action to level the playing field, in children’s earlier educational years, there will still be these high school dropout factories, where certain children by chance are put at an extreme disadvantage to meet their educational needs. Also, the example of the high school in California where only 3 students will be eligible for admission into a University of California school showcases that certain high schools provide limited opportunities for their students in achieving the ability to pursue post high school education. Whereas, some schools with better educational systems have great success providing opportunities for their students to pursue post high school education. Affirmative action should be aimed to make sure every child no matter what school they are put into has an equal chance to take their education as far as they want to, because as the video shows, there is a long ways to go in order to have a level playing field for every child.

  31. Affirmative action is an attempt to help equalize the disparity of Whites, to other minorities in education. While statistics tell us that whites consistently outscore other minorities in tests like the SAT there are other factors that lead to the lower number of minorities in secondary education. Factors like wealth, parental involvement, and the quality of primary education they receive influence their ability to obtain a higher education. Waiting for Superman shows us just how severely a quality education can affect your chances of competing with others. The pressure on these school systems to get students to “pass” forces them to reduce the expectations of their students, this over the years has meant that even if you graduate from a poor school, you are still at a great disadvantage compared to a quality public school. In other words you may have received a high school education, but were never meeting the same standards other schools around the nation provided.
    Affirmative action then looks at these disparities and realizes that those receiving that poorer education will never be able to compete with the quality schools students and therefore will lose their ability to gain admission into universities. A sad reality, but without it many youth would stand no chance of attending a prestigious school. The problem is if you increase the standards too high you risk many more students dropping out because of the difficulty of school. On the flip side if you increase standards over time, you can steadily increase the scores of students while maintaining enrollment in those inner city schools.

  32. Payden Bjornesatd permalink

    Affirmative action, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary can be defined as “an active effort to improve the employment or educational opportunities of members of minority groups and women; also : a similar effort to promote the rights or progress of other disadvantaged persons”. In other words Affirmative action can be defined as programs that are set to level the playing field when it comes to education and jobs. We live in an institutionally created racist society, thus, it is necessary to create and implement strategies and programs that can make it “fair” for everyone. The film that we watched in class “waiting for superman” shows how important affirmative action is by documenting the lives of disadvantaged minority students who are not exposed to affirmative action programs that privileged schools take for granted. Often times, as documented in the video, schools with majority minority presence often lack options for education because of costs, their economic situation, what is available to them, as well as a general lack of funding for scholastic programs that are offered in higher privileged public and private schools. As you move from suburbs to inner city you see a sharp decline in AP programs as well as what is offered through the school such as college and career counselor availability, funding for prep classes such as the SAT, etc. Opportunities for an equal playing field must be created in order to create a fair educational playing field. Otherwise, privileged students will continue to succeed while other students not exposed to necessary programs suffer and are cast aside in the education system. The perpetuating cycle of the poor staying poor and the rich getting richer will not change until educational programs are available and spread out equally through ought the country with emphasis on those schools in the most trouble. Essentially, affirmative action needs to take action and focus on improving the education system school by school

  33. Alex Loper 11010258 permalink

    Affirmative action is a set of laws put in place to level the playing field between racial groups. It ensures that racial groups other than the native group are given the opportunities that the natives group receives. The rise of dropout factories in urban areas can be partly attributed to a lack of affirmative action in these schools and areas. The kids that attend these schools are treated as though they are already going to fail and dropout, and because of this they do. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
    Waiting for superman shows how important affirmative action is by showing how non-whites get screwed over at every turn. Without affirmative action, colleges judge applicants greatly on their GPA and SAT scores. When a child is attending a dropout factory, these scores plummet down due to poor conditions of the school and surrounding neighborhood. Assuming a child doesn’t drop out of these schools, their chances of getting in to a college becomes slim because they have been set up for failure. In this case, affirmative action would give these students the chance that they would otherwise not get to attend college. These dropout factories are partially a symptom of poor surrounding neighborhoods. To fix this issue, the issue of poverty must also be looked at. Students oftentimes drop out because they have to work to help supplement their families’ income. They don’t have the time between school and work to study.

  34. Alex Vo permalink

    Affirmative Action is a method used in employment and college admissions and is intended to take away some of the inequalities withing our society. The film “Waiting for Superman” described Affirmative Action and why it is place. The movie goes on to talk about how racial and socio-economical inequalities have been historically prevalent in the United States. Waiting for Superman elaborates on this topic and dicusses high school students of color. These students strive to earn excellent grades, as well as many of them working jobs on the side. The film also talks about at the schools that these children attend have some of the worst dropout rates in the state. Since many major universities take factors such as high school prestige into the admission process, the kids shown in the movie would often be overlooked. Affirmative Action tries to help include outstanding students that are in bad school systems. I believe that this is good because students should be evaluated by who they are and not where they are from. Many people argue that Affirmative Action takes away other peoples jobs and other kids’ spots at university. However, that also implies that those jobs are entitled to white people. Students that blame Affirmative Action as the reason they didn’t get into their favorite school are very naive. All they look at is that they got a higher SAT score, but in reality there are several reasons why they didn’t get chosen. When really assessed, the heat that Affirmative Action undergoes is without cause; as in the end colored applicants are still less likely to get hired or admitted.

  35. Abran Grajeda permalink

    There are two types of affirmative action in the educational system. The first type is race-based affirmative action. When colleges use race-based affirmative action they take into account the students race as an extra beneficial factor when determining admissions. Without race-based affirmative action many minorities would not be able to attend college because of the poor education they received and the lack of SAT prep courses. The second type is class-based affirmative action. Class-based affirmative action gives low-income students more financial aid for college depending on the person’s race, gender, and ethnicity. Class-based affirmative action has given a leg up for less privileged students. By less privileged I mean their families don’t have money or the resources to send them off to a good college. Class-based affirmative action has given minorities and lower-income students a chance at a college education that otherwise would not be possible because of the class they were born in. Waiting for superman shows how low-income students struggle in their public schools because of the poor education they are receiving. The teachers in this documentary don’t seem to care if the kids are learning or not. They are still getting paid for doing nothing. Affirmative action levels the playing field with the students in this documentary because they are forced to go to these falling schools. I find it surprising that all of the students shown in this documentary have to rely on luck to get a quality education.

  36. Carlo Dimaculangan permalink

    Affirmative Action Civil Rights is a set of policies aimed giving access to education and employment to social, racial, and ethnic group, historically kept in the margins. The documentary waiting for Superman shows the living circumstances different part of US in the Education field. The movie does great job showing how the education department tries to make efforts to fix the system. The movie shows how education department uses affirmative action by electing people that can help change the harsh conditions of the school districts. The documentary also shows how some of the problems were the teachers themselves that doesn’t do their job well..For example was the teacher that was just reading the newspaper shown in the third part of the video.

    • Bryce Jackson permalink

      I think this is very well said. The documentary does show how their are so many problems that the teachers don’t do their job well. The movies was a very good example that shows the education department trying to fix the field of Education.

  37. Hollyann Jackson permalink

    Schmidt seems to define affirmative action as programs and efforts to give those of lower social and economic status more job and education opportunities. However, according to the film, it seems these efforts are not really enough. It seems resources are not being directed to the schools and students that need them the most, instead going into schools that are already well-off. All the other schools are underfunded and overpopulated. The teachers do not seem to try very hard, and students are not likely to be successful without outside intervention.

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