This week, United Way of Central Indiana has invited community leaders, partners and donors to private screenings of the newly released documentary Waiting for "Superman." United Way understands that if an individual receives a quality education, they dramatically reduce their chances of being unemployed and dramatically increase their income potential. A high school degree at a minimum and a college degree for most are necessary to support a healthy, independent lifestyle.
Unfortunately, a significant number of our children in our community are not achieving the minimum of a high school degree. It is not just the child's or their family's issue. The problem affects us all, and we must all work together to improve the chances for our children for a healthy and independent future.
Understanding these facts about quality education is why United Way of Central Indiana adopted education as a second priority in addition to supporting human service in 2006 and why United Way is spotlighting this film.
The film is direct, unapologetic and controversial. It clearly states that all children can learn and deserve a quality education. It also states that the current education system fails too many students and that teachers' union agreements are obstacles to reform. It positions charter schools as alternatives.
United Way does not endorse the content of the film, but we do believe that our community must engage in critical discussion about improving our educational outcomes. United Way does not believe that any one idea presented in the movie is a silver bullet to enable our community to graduate 100 percent of its children. But, if we care enough about the problem to struggle together for a solution, surely we can dramatically improve our children's success.
Much good work is being done today, but more work is needed. Many people are involved, but more are needed. After each screening of the movie, United Way is leading a panel discussion that includes voices from the schools, the teachers' union and the reform movement. All voices need to be heard to improve student success. Sides should not be drawn, but joint strategies need to be developed.
United Way's job is to recruit and engage people and organizations that have the passion, expertise and resources to help. How can you help? We're listening, and this blog offers one way to extend the conversation. Together, we can!
-- Jay Geshay
Senior V.P., Community Planning & Strategic Initiatives