Documentary Suggests Alternatives To Public School Orthodoxy

By Jim Erickson. Reprinted by permission of East Wichita News.

It’s called Flunked, and this documentary, narrated by Joe Mantegna, is a shopping list of successful ideas to improve our schools. Those interested in the school bond issue and education in general might want to catch this movie at The Orpheum on October 8.

Though sponsored by the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy and Citizens for Better Education (CBE), no school bond discussion will take place. This is the first of several efforts by CBE, which opposes the bond issue, to present a positive event, according to Helen Cochran, spokesperson. Ideas for change range widely, from simple matters of raising pay to such farout ones as abandoning public schools altogether. There isn’t time, in a movie less than an hour long, to develop these ideas in detail, but there will be a question and answer session following led by producer Steve Maggi.

A number of the ideas would involve no immediate costs, such as installing administrations that would back up the faculty in cases of unjustified complaints and giving classroom teachers more authority.

Not all ideas agree — one teacher lauds the results of banning computers; another advocates providing each student a new one. General emphases are on dealing with ethnic minorities and offering a variety of kinds of schools, as well as with managing on the budget you have instead of seeking more money.

Nobody is going to agree with every idea, but it’s hard to see how anybody could see Flunked and not get some idea or other.

I wish the movie were longer and went into more detail. In the case of stronger classroom discipline, what would be done with students who had to be removed? How many were there in the class mentioned? Was the local juvenile crime rate affected? Did any savings in the school get lost in expenses on the street? One hopes that there will be people in attendance who can handle such questions.

Though it’s a ways off, education enthusiasts will want to mark your calendars for October 8 for this free showing. A reception opens the evening at 5 p.m. with the screening at 6 p.m. The sponsors are asking for donations of school supplies to be given to USD-259.

Editor’s note: This screening is on Wednesday, October 8. A reception with free concessions and cash bar will be held at 5:00 pm at the grand historic Orpheum Theater (First and Broadway in downtown Wichita), followed by the movie at 6:00 pm and a Q&A session with producer Steve Maggi at 6:45 pm.

Click here to go to the Flint Hills website and make your reservation for this free event.

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