The Class

We went to see the movie, The Class, this weekend.  I wouldn't say I loved it but it is an interesting film.  If it hadn't been for the fact that I have seen this movie in real life through the eyes of MOUSE, I might have been more intrigued vs seen that before.

The conversations around this movie could be much more interesting.  The Class is a French movie which takes place over a course of a year in an inner city school in Paris around a school, a particular teacher and a group of 14 year olds.  The kids are mostly immigrants who have arrived in Paris and French is certainly not their first language.  The class we spend the year with is French class. 

The teacher attempts at all levels to engage these kids.  His frustration level ebbs back and forth.  On one hand, he wants to transform these young citizens into thoughtful, respectful, adults yet on the other hand he isn't their parent, he is their teacher.  These kids come with their own baggage into the class and all he can really do is try and mold them and make an impact.  Try he does.

This particular situation, although not in terms of immigrants, is happening in inner city schools all around our country and bleeding out to the suburbs.  There is not enough capital flowing through the education system.  Sometime around the 70's, the system took a turn.  Our education system is missing the best and brightest teachers, the respect of the students, and the funding for books, art, physical education and top technology.  What has happened is that families with means have pulled their kids from the public education system and put them in private schools.  We've divided the system in 2.

I am a huge believer in the public education system.  The diversity in the classroom is powerful.  But, after watching the Class, you wonder if we can ever return to a place where kids want to come and learn. 

As the economy has turned sour, and more people might be wondering if they can truly afford a private education for their children, and more of these kids will return to the public school system due to lack of cash.  I put the change of schools in the parents hands of these kids who hopefully will push Government to spend more on our kids because the future is them. 

It is time for a much needed change in how we educate our kids. 

Comments (Archived):

  1. Juan

    “I am a huge believer in the public education system. The diversity in the classroom is powerful.”So why didn’t you send your own kids to NYC public schools with such powerful diversity in their classrooms?

    1. Gotham Gal

      The NYC public education system is not easy. There are a handful of goodelementary schools that are currently over crowded. The middle schoolsystem is the toughest one. Again, a handful, some of the best ones, likethe elementary schools, are neighborhood centric. There are definitely someexcellent HS’s that you must apply to. Those are really large schools sucjas Styvestant. I have worked with the public school system in NYC too. Iam not convinced that my kids would be getting a good education in thepublic school system in NYC except at the HS level where neither of themwanted to go to a school of that size. Funds are limited and the arts, physed and other things are cut back on. Also, the schools are limited andgetting in is not so easy. There are lines to get into the best publicschools in the city. There should be an excellent school, at each level, inevery neighborhood, but unfortunately there isn’t.I do believe that the public school system in the suburban neighborhoods aredifferent neighborhood by neighborhood. What is frustrating is that youmust live in a particular suburb to get into the best school for your kids.It shouldn’t be that way. There should be consistency throughout thesystem.Look at the Presidents with children in the White House. Except for JimmyCarter, they all sent their kids to private schools because the inner cityschools in DC are a disaster. I am sure they wished they could send theirkids to public school but the system isn’t there to support what they wantfor their children.I am lucky to afford to be able to give my kids are private school educationin NYC but I wish the public schools were up to par with the private schoolbecause that would make the decision easy…I’d send them to public school.

      1. Juanj

        This is whistling past the graveyard. What makes the handful of good NYC public schools good? It’s their students, who resemble the students at your kids’ private school, albeit perhaps a little smarter and a little less affluent on average. D.C. public schools aren’t bad because of a lack of funds; on the contrary, they spend more per student there than almost any other public school system in the country. It’s the students.Caring parents try to find safe schools where their children can be surrounded by other diligent, smart kids. The way you did that was by sending your kids to a private school; the way less affluent parents do that is by moving to a suburb with an excellent public school. You’ll get “consistency throughout the system” over their dead bodies: you should no more expect them to sacrifice their kids on an altar of political correctness than they should expect you to send your kids to open admission NYC public schools.

        1. Gotham Gal

          Agree with everything you say but I am not sure that every kid gets attention from over crowding and lack of funds.No doubt that I’m doing what I believe is right for my kids and I can afford it. There is no doubt that if I couldn’t afford it, I’d figure out the system and make the most of it.I give huge kudos to the parents who make the most of system. I just wish the education system would allow for more creativity, less bureaucracy and more money being spent on the student not the people who run it.joanne [email protected]

  2. ellen

    Education is the number one priority here in Newton . Most of our property taxes go for the school budget. We are building a beautiful Graham Gund designed high school and we just renovated our other high school as well. As a life long resident I missed the 30 yr old high school the city is tearing down. The previous high school I attended was ancient but the teachers were fabulous and Newton was rated number 1. The problem is that many older people cannot afford to stay in their homes because of the property tax. They have spent their lives making Newton the kind of place people like to live in, yet many of them must leave because with shrinking portfolios and their fixed retirement incomes, the property tax is too much of a burden. For some their property tax is more than what they paid for their houses. I wish there was an easy solution for bettering education as I like diversity as well. I like to see a mix of all generations walking the streets of Newton Centre, not just a bunch of kids . The solution cannot come at the expense of our older citizens by continung to increase property taxes with inflated valuations and constant property tax overrides. In Manhattan and other places I am always surprised how low the property tax is incomparison to value.The state of Massachusetts is looking to cut it’s budget so where will our funds come from now that we must build 4 new elementary buildings? We put a whole lot of our school building budget into our new high school. and now there seems to be a shortfall for other projects.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Older citizens should absolutely not be put in a position to fund theschools for the youth. The Government, as well as some taxes at areasonable level, should fund the future. Studies have told us that growthand sustainability comes from a good education system. In NYC, the propertytaxes are not ridiculous which is probably why our school system is good insmall pockets.

  3. ellen

    I guess I forgot to mention that when we need more school budget money, Newton just raises property taxes or reevaluates our homes to pay the bills,