Waiting for Superman

Waiting for Superman* * *
Waiting for Superman
– sp – If you are concerned about the educational system in the United States and how it is falling behind many countries in the world and may be letting down children whom you care about, you will want to see this documentary film. The same day that we saw this movie, Thomas Friedman suggested, in the N.Y. Times, that it raises awareness about problems of our education system as the movie An Inconvenient Truth ( the Al Gore film ) did about the environment. Both films were directed by Davis Guggenheim and produced by Lesley Chilcott, with the latter being a guest speaker at our screening. The storyline pulled no punches as it made the point over and over again that bad teachers must be eliminated from schools and replaced with good ones . The enemy here is depicted as the teacher’s unions which oppose evaluation of teachers, merit pay and firing of poor teachers. It is interesting that also the day on which we saw this film, the first round of educational grants to states for Obama’s Race to the Top program were announced . The NY Times article also stated that one important requirement for receiving this money were changes in the schools so teacher’s performances could be evaluated and subsequent action taken based on this information Examples of successful charter schools, magnet schools and public schools were shown in this film. The efforts of Michelle Rhee in Washington, D.C. who is trying to reorganize that school system were highlighted as were interviews with Jeffrey Canada who has set up a successful charter school in New York City in Harlem where he turned around the dropout rate. Canada’s childhood disappointment when he learned that there was no real Superman and therefore he thought there was no one to save him from the hardships of his own difficult childhood circumstances, inspired the title of this movie. It was pointed out in the film that so many kids who drop out end up in the prison system where the cost of keeping them there for an average of four years could pay for a full private school education plus money left over for college. We did think that this movie was somewhat redundant , repetitious and longer than it had to be. It also did not touch upon the role of class size in successful education which the producer did feel had been disproved as a factor, although not covered in the movie. It also failed to explain or analyze the qualities that make a good teacher or a bad one although the difference between the two does make all the difference in the world to a child’s future. The most poignant, dramatic and heartbreaking part of the film was the close-up view of various lotteries which are held to determine which few students of the many sitting in the auditorium are chosen to be accepted to the schools known to successfully graduate it’s students. You can see and feel the disappointment in the children as they realize that they have lost something very special that they dearly wanted. 2010

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