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Tonight, selected performing artists and technicians will be cited for outstanding performances in the world of entertainment at the annual Academy Awards presentation. By contrast, last week in Rhode Island, ninety three educators were fired for a “worst” performance because they were teaching in a school where the students continued to perform at substandard levels. All eyes will be on Hollywood tonight taking in the glamour, the celebrity, the glitz; marveling at the amount of money spent on production costs and red carpet finery. While Hollywood continues to spend reckless amounts of money on 3-D spectacles, educators across the country are working with fewer funds than ever, struggling to teach the kids of this country. The chasm that exists between the world of entertainment and the world of education is mind blowing. No one gave those ninety three educators in Rhode Island a carte blanche budget to be able to raise test scores at their school. Venture capitalists don ‘t have high powered lunches with teachers to discuss how much money they want to contribute to their classrooms to enhance learning. On the contrary. Each year we are asked to do more with less- raise test scores, meet the standards, teach kids who can ‘t speak the language, close the achievement gap. And in a low performing school, if you don ‘t, your job can be on the line. Avatar, the golden favorite of the Awards ceremony tonight, cost somewhere around $280 million to produce- plus marketing costs. What kind of magic could a school make with that kind of money? Granted, Avatar has made over a billion dollars since its release, pleasing its investors enormously but doing very little to further the advancement of mankind in general.
The producers, directors, actors, technicians, cameramen, script writers, gaffers; all of them had to learn their craft. All of them, can thank an educator for helping them to achieve the quality of life that they now enjoy. None of them would be where they are without having had a foundation in public education. Is it too much to ask that some of the spoils of Hollywood could be used to help subsidize public education? Just a two percent tax or subsidy from every film project could provide a revenue source for education that is currently unmatched. Our students make up the majority of the movie going audiences. What kind of creative potential, be it Hollywood or other, is being lost at schools like the one in Rhode Island because funding and resources are too scant to provide students with the necessary foundations for them to reach their highest achievement? How many “Best Performance” awards could be given out if education were funded like entertainment?