Monday, August 14, 2006

The Ron Clark Story-- the Teacher's Review.

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With school approaching and my teacher's hat on, I shall engage my cynicism drive and begin to spew forth my thoughts on "Ron Burgundy" er, Ron Clark. What worked, what was ridiculous, et al. I will try to keep it in chronological order, but may stray at times. I know very little about this guy, but I'm glad, because it allows me to bag on the story even more.

Note: Spoiler to the plot follows.

  1. He pretty much dressed like a teacher. Too many suits though.
  2. He got his own parking spot concrete thing. I mean, come on-- he taught in rural North Carolina and they probably spend $53.67 per student, which means in order to buy/ make him that parking thingie Miss Winland's first grade class probably had to do their artwork on paper grocery sacks-- and then he up and left, for crying out loud!
  3. On the topic of him leaving...what? Why? Just up and left for the Big Apple? In the middle fo the school year? If I tried to do that, my district would grab onto my teaching certificiate and hold on with all their strength. I could only pry it from my superintendent's cold dead hands. In rural NC, where there are few teachers willing to teach? They let him leave? C'mon.
  4. Good portrayal of him working as a waiter before (and during) his teaching career in NYC. How many of us have to find second jobs to make ends meet? Too many.
  5. I found it really funny how he actually went to the schools to see if they were hiring. Ha! Apparently New York has no central office for hiring or human resources.
  6. One of the best parts was when the old teacher chases after the student (great graffiti artist) and ends up quitting right there. Then Ron is like "I can start now?" then the principal (Ernie Hudson of Ghostbusters fame) is like "No, you'll start on Monday." I'm thinking the whole time, dude, he could be the biggest child rapist in NYC and you just hired him. Though, at the same time I realized it was fantasy TV-land because no principal in the public school system has the power to just look at someone's resume and then hire someone off the street.
  7. Those kids-- I think we were all secretly thinking of comparisons to those TV kids and matching them up to past students. How many of you wanted to just grab the hat off of the kid Clark later played cards with at the coffee shop? He ALWAYS had it on. He could not sit in his chair the right way! What about the other student with the head scarf (the graffiti guy)? Come on!
  8. The whole classroom sequences in the beginning were good, I have to say. Cheers on that, I suppose. The kids were pretty snotty, but at the same time frighteningly realistic to a bit of a veteran like me. A little over the top, but this is TV after all.
  9. So at one point Ron Clark walks out. Grabs his stuff after shaking the desk (I cringed there, let me tell you, that would have been a letter in the file, perhaps a downtown hearing and a bit of a suspension on that one there) and just LEAVES early on FRIDAY with a WHOLE CLASSFUL OF KIDS SITTING THERE. IDIOT. Then the principal doesn't know that he left the next Monday. (Perhaps he was playing coy, I didn't really analyze that deeply.)
  10. What was EVEN DUMBER was the fact that he left and just kind came back. Just like that. However, if you look at the grand scheme of things it did make sense, because when he got to his classroom every morning the kids were already in there. Uh.... yeah.
  11. I liked the chocolate milk thing, but he should have spaced it out to like one per minute instead of every 15 seconds.
  12. The President's rap? C'mon. No one cares about the Presidents, when they were born or how long they served (academically speaking) because that's just too dang rote! Buh...
  13. What about when the young lady's very agitated mother came in? Parents that angry never agree with you, no matter how rational or appeasing your statement(s) or action(s) are.
  14. I liked the part about how he videotaped his lessons and sent 'em in.
  15. 55 rules? 55 freakin' rules? I have 5, and they work for me. I can't remember all the Presidents, how do I have time to enforce 55 freakin' rules with my students? Come on!
  16. I find it very funny that network TV has now been able to dramatize the instructions to a standardized test to make it actually seem....dramatic. No, ladies and gentlemen, no longer are teachers subjugated to carrying the test materials, or sharpening pencils. Never again will teachers read the "opening monolgue" instructions to the test with inflectionless voices. No, true belivers, in the real world it is the principal who carries the test in, hands the pencils out and sits there and monitors the student body while they test and the teachers just simply wait in the stairwells, nervously contemplating the future of life in their perfect world.
  17. Of course, just at the perfect time when the aforementioned young lady in #13 was about to recieve her award, in comes the Principal with the results. Not one student failed, and everyone did great-- and the young lady did better than anyone else in NYC in Math and Science. In reality, you don't get your test results when you want 'em, and unfortunatley, not everyone in my classes pass-- yet.
  18. The best part about the reveal on the scores was the fact that his kinda-sorta girlfriends Cleopatra (from the restaraunt) just breezes into his classroom. Yeah, that happens. Great security, Inner Harlem Elementary School.
  19. That brings me to another point, not being from NYC, aren't all your schools designated by numbers and stuff? The idea of naming an urban school Inner ANYTHING just completely blows my mind. However, this is TV land.
  20. If you look up Ron Clark now, he's charging approximately $17,000 for a speech and travel expenses. He's beginning the Ron Clark School (a private school) in Atlanta. Way to give back, Ron.
  21. Note there is no mention of any kind of labor organization anywhere in the film. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. It's a good thing to know that teachers in New York have been able to achieve the gains they have when it comes to working conditions without the help of unions.

Note: There are countless teachers who work harder than this guy and achieve more realistic results. No one will ever make a movie about them, and if they did, it would be a thousand times better than that one. To all of you who make a difference every day despite ever obstacle possible, you are our Ron Clarks.



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5 comments:

Bud said...

Um. It was a movie.

AprilMay said...

I am soooo glad I am not the only one who doesn't like this guy or his movie! And, "bud", the movie was bad, but his real life story is worse. His website makes me twitch.

Mike said...

I saw the Ron Clark films in my college education classes. You remember? The super teachers who, through sheer force of personality and because they just loved the little darlings soooooooo much, inbued each and every student with the love of learning and students who previously had been psychotic animal torturers were suddenly in the running for the Nobel Peace Prize (oops! I guess that one could be true these days!), and every kid turned in every assignment, became wholesome and beautiful and...?

Well. I know many good teachers. I know many who are inspiring--for some of their kids. I know many who do change lives--for some of their kids. But I've never met, nor have I every met anyone who has met one of these ascended beings.

Tell inspirational stories? Of course, and every good teacher has them. But this sort of thing is the Hollywood, formulaic version of reality that may evoke a tear or two, but helps real teachers and students not at all. As I teach my students, things like this are mere entertainment, and there is nothing inherently wrong with that. But good art is out there, and it is important to know the difference.

Nancy said...

I wasn't home when they aired this but I can imagine how the movie went. They're all predictable once you've seen Dangerous Minds and whatnot.

A sidenote on the naming of NYC schools...most NYC schools have names, as well as numbers. example.

We do have a central human resources office here in NYC but it is a good move to contact schools indvidually and leave your resumes with principals. I did it. A lot of NYC teachers do it...that's how you increase your chances of ending up in a school you can be happy with. Principals have hiring power; as long as the teacher has all his paperwork in order, etc, all systems are go if the principal wants the teacher.

Lastly, a lot of NYC schools are tight communities so it would not be unusual to see the significant others of faculty in the building, esp if security knows them well.

I hope they put that movie out on DVD though 'cuz I'd like to judge for myself! :D

Professor said...

Ah,common! It's just so easy to criticize...I've seen the movie many times and I even watched it with my students who are teachers...they loved it! We had discussions on it and there are so many things you can learn by watching the film. Maybe it's not a perfect movie, or it has some things you dislike...but hey! Do you think ALL movies are realistic and perfect? I don't think so. So, instead of just being so negative about the movie, you should see the good side of it, take what you consider important for you :) And yes, all teachers make a difference in students' lives, good or bad, in any part of the world. The important thing is to change their lives for the better, that's the main point of "The Ron Clark Story" :D

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