Remember in his movie how Michael was able to attend a private school because his friend's father asked the coach to get him enrolled to play football? Michael had what some would call an "Opportunity Scholarship" (just like a voucher that covers tuition to a private school). Despite being in a private Christian school, among well-to-do peers, and having excellent teachers, Michael struggled academically. He was failing his classes and was ineligible to play on the football team. He was on the brink of being kicked out of the private school until Leigh Anne Tuohy stepped in and changed his life.
She gave him hope, security, and a home, but she also gave him something that impacted his education... she provided tutors. Without tutoring and mentoring, Michael would have surely failed and flunked out.
Without Leigh Anne, Michael might have been in and out of prison by now, as some of his classmates probably have been. He could be living on the streets. He could be living paycheck to paycheck, working in a minimum wage job with a bleak future.
But he's not.
Why? Because someone cared enough to hire a tutor to work with him individually. Someone cared about his future.
Anyone that says that class sizes don't matter is wrong. It certainly made a difference to Michael Oher to have individualized attention.
It is also important to note that the Tuohy family didn't pay for Michael to sit in front of a computer program for intervention, and they didn't pay for a tutor to help him get his standardized test scores up (because his private school didn't have to administer the high-stakes TCAP or state tests). The tutor focused on his academic classes, with the goal of meeting requirements to play a game he loves, football.
You know the rest of the story... Michael went on to play football, excel academically, and is a positive role model for so many kids stuck in the system.
What made the difference?
- A stable family with the income to support Michael.
- Individualized attention with a qualified tutor to ensure he was learning.
...class sizes in TN were smaller
...there were more teaching assistants in classrooms
...there were more tutors to help students outside of school
...there were more guidance counselors in schools to help these students
...if there were extra-curricular activities that students could participate in (like football, music, art, dance, etc.)
...more students would have personalized attention, motivation to succeed, and they would thrive.
Instead of pouring money and resources into vouchers and charters that won't work (but make those at the top very rich): support and fix the schools that we do have.
Instead of spending our tax dollars on more tests, spend it on something proven to work: real people.