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Scribbling in the dark (while Waiting for SUPERMAN)

By Amanda Ponzar

Ginger%20United[1] We just wrapped up our United Way campaign to support the community -- yay, LIVE UNITED. Events included volunteering (I organized books at Habitat for Humanity’s Restore -- very dusty and cold) and attending a screening of Waiting for SUPERMAN”.

If you have kids, know kids, live in a community with kids, don't like kids, or are even remotely interested in America’s future workforce and global competitiveness (see why you should care about education reform), check out this film. It's heart-warming plus chock-full of interesting facts.

I watched with my mouth hanging open, scribbling statistics in the dark on a pad of paper I discovered in my purse while rifling for tissues. Here are those unedited scribbles: Notes[1]

  • Lowest reading rate in country –- 12% (Washington, DC area where I live)
  • 2k dropout factories across the U.S.
  • Michelle Rhee (former DC public schools chancellor)
  • Students progress 3x as fast with good teacher
  • Teachers earn tenure after 2 years
  • NEA & AFT largest campaign contributors; $55M –- 90% to democrats
  • Geoffrey Canada charter school Harlem
  • High-tech (jobs that Americans aren’t and won’t be qualified for)
  • Kipp Schools
  • Rhee merit pay up to $120k for best teachers; union blocked (idea to reward high performers but all teachers would have to forgo tenure to receive)
  • Thank you, mom and dad (seriously, thanks for reading to me and investing in my education; it paid off!)

Whether you love it or hate it, this documentary is a great example of good marketing. Jammies[1]

  • Created controversy -– it got under the skin of teachers unions by tackling education reform, tenure, charter schools, salaries, etc.
  • Intrigued people by the name “Waiting for SUPERMAN.”
  • Partnered with organizations focused on education who promoted the film to their supporters, getting the word out.
  • Encouraged people to “join the conversation” through dialogue, engagement and social media sharing.
  • Developed a social action campaign: pledge to see the movie (does your city have the most pledges?), contact elected officials, etc. so this was about a movement, not just a movie.
  • Held advance free screenings for local community leaders (some of our United Ways attended) to begin buzz before the film was available.
  • Landed incredible star power -- don’t ask me how Davis Guggenheim got Bill Gates in the film or President Obama to meet the student stars. Get Gates or the President anywhere and things start to happen.

Long story short, everyone in America should see this film to "get schooled" and get the education conversation going. What do you think?

(Photos: LIVE UNITED ginger cookie, my actual notes from the movie showing, my son's Superman jammies)

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