Friday, October 15, 2010

Superman vs. Exline Grundy

So, I went to go see "Waiting for Superman" Tuesday night. My kid walked off with my notes, so I'm just going to relate what I remember.

Let me start by saying that who ever is responsible for the clusterf**k parking situation at First and Main ought to be keel-hauled.  I'm sure all of that confusion was hella expensive.

In attendance were lots of education movers and shakers, among whom were Vicky Diamond, Mary Lou Makepeace, Chuck Fowler, Sean Paige, Peggy Littleton, Toby Norton, Cari Shaffer, Nick Gledich, Charlie Bobbitt, Chyrese Exline, Mike Miles, and Jan Tanner...who appeared to have left her clown costume at home for a change. Both of the Gazette's education writers were there, as were Tom Strand and his wife -- it was good to see her up and about.

It made me think a lot more of the people who showed, and a lot less of the people who didn't; the showing was free, and there were plenty of empty seats.

The movie followed four children who were clearly leaders of the pack, and their efforts to obtain an equitable education. One child was actively being dumbed-down, and the others were being left behind for no good reason. In all four cases, the parents were actively engaged, and had pinned high hopes upon their child being selected in lotteries to fill the scarce seats available at four local and successful charter schools. In the end, only one child was; the disappointment of the parents and kids who were not selected was palpable, and brought unwilling tears to my eyes.

I have to say that while the movie had a lot of statistics, it was light on solutions. The most significant problems seemed to be the teachers' unions, tenure and class sizes; it also seemed as though charter schools, vouchers and alternative hiring practices for teachers were possible solutions. People were left to mull over answers on their own.

After the movie, attendees were invited to continue the dialogue at Corrino's down the way. My friend and I sat across from the Gazette's new education writer (I am so bad with names, lost her business card, and too burnt out on the Gazette right now to go and look up her name), and Chyrese Exline.

My conversation with the writer from the Gazette was most enjoyable; a pleasant person all around. I did, though, have an opportunity to ask her pointedly about why the Gazette had failed to cover the story about Mrs. Herbst and the rubber band incident, and was astonished when she told me I was the first person to have brought it to her attention.

My friend's conversation with Ms. Exline was decidedly less pleasant. Exline, as you may recall, ran unsuccessfully for the Colorado House in 2007, and the District 11 School Board in 2009. She is Colorado Springs native, a product of District 11 schools, happens to be married to a white guy that my husband and I went to high school with, and remains a D11 insider. When asked about her impression of the movie, she admitted that it was moving...but what fell from her mouth afterward was enough to make me cover my face "no. she. di'int." style.

To hear Ms. Exline speak, it was the parents who were at fault for the educational inequity the children experienced...never mind the fact that it was the parents who were so actively and desperately seeking solutions to the problems. Exline was adamant that the parents were not properly exercising their educational rights, and that's why the kids were suffering.

Talk about a proud mama; Exline went on to explain at length and ad nauseum how she became a loudly squeaking wheel so as to squeeze out every last drop of grease to which she felt her child was entitled. Talk about vicarious living; not to discount her daughter's accomplishments...but one would have thought that Exline herself had graduated high school and entered college at age 16.

Quibbling arose as various statistics were bandied about (part of the discussion I just sort of blinked through), and whenever my friend would counter with different numbers, Exline would chirp condescendingly, "You're entitled to your own opinions, but not entitled to your own facts." She said it so many times that I was inspired to look up the quote online; and no matter how many times Exline repeats it, it was indeed something someone else lofitier than she -- I believe Daniel Moynihan -- said first.

Exline claimed that charter schools aren't much more than "private public schools" (or was it "public private schools"?). She alleged that charter schools serve a disproportinate number of white children, stating time and again that there were few people who "look like me" either teaching or in attendance. She did not answer my question about the recent, successful racial discrimination lawsuit that was brought against District 11. 

I asked her, then, what she thought of Jan Tanner being a party to a lawsuit against the Colorado Department of Education, in which she alleged school vouchers would have the effect of denying her son an equitable education (even though he was 16 at the time and almost out of school); Chyrese stammered out a weak defense of Tanner, and then spat, "Why don't you ask her yourself?"

"I will," said I, "one day I will do just that." But in reality, it's unlikely; when would Jan ever speak to me? Biting off her nose to spite her face, she's already demonstrated her complete disregard for my astute observations on her numerous fashion faux pas. Simply put, I am not Jan's favorite kind of black person -- but then, who is?

Anyway, my friend and I left the gathering at Corrino's both expressing the same sentiment -- that we wished we'd sat across from someone other than Chyrese. One thing absolutely for certain: whatever office the elitist Exline chases in the a Colorado Springs native, as a product of District 11, as a black woman in an interracial marriage, as a low-income person, and as a parent -- I'll know better than to ever cast my vote for her.

See the movie if you can. 

Lois Lane, signing out.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't see the show, but I too wonder what will educators DO? We are all knitted together. Our society, like a knitted sweater, contracts, expands and gets distorted. Education too! The education SYSTEM, including all the participants, need to smooth out that knitted sweater. Look how much teachers and teachers unions are involved politically. That same energy could be used to remove the railroad tie in their own eyes. Change does begin with me and Hope is in the LORD.