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  • Waiting for Superman to Rescue Education

    The decline of public education stands out as a subject ripe for the lens of a documentary filmmaker. In Waiting for Superman, to be released by Paramount this fall, the producers do just that, pointing a critical eye to the plight of public education in America.

    The film’s name comes from the idea of a child wishing to be rescued from a bad situation–in this case, from a school system that often leads to nowhere but failure. Other recent documentaries on this topic–such as The Heritage Foundation’s Let Me Rise, Teamworks Media’s The Street Stops Here, and the Moving Picture Institute’s The Cartel-highlight the failures of public schools and the subsequent negative consequences on low-income and disadvantaged children. Waiting for Superman reveals the gridlock created by school district bureaucracy, apathetic teachers, and teachers’ unions. As families across the country continue to fight for education reform, these documentaries give a face to those who are engaged in the day-to-day struggle.

    According to The Washington Post:

    Waiting for Superman tells the stories of children in several cities — Los Angeles, Harlem, Washington D.C. — interspersed with interviews of educators – [Michelle] Rhee, Harlem Children’s Zone founder Geoffrey Canada, the founders of the KIPP charter school network — to demonstrate the appalling state of public schools in America…. What stays with you, though, are the faces of the children who are being cheated and the tears of their parents who want better for them. It is actually painful to watch these mothers and fathers and grandmothers lose out in lotteries for precious spots in charter schools.

    In Waiting for Superman, Guggenheim addresses the stranglehold public sector unions have on K-12 education. The Washington Post writes:

    The film…is harsh on teachers’ unions, board of education bureaucrats and politicians who give lip service to change.

    A Sundance review captures the documentary’s essence:

    Equal parts sickening, fascinating, and inspiring, Waiting for Superman (the title refers to a child’s dream of being rescued) takes firm aim at our national education system and asks a few simple but angry questions…Full of refreshingly honest insights and some powerfully upsetting statistics, the film seems angry and critical, but never hopeless. We’d like to think that every kid in America has his own fair shot at a strong education … but we know they don’t. Not really. Movies like Waiting for Superman would like to change that.

    Co-authored by Virginia Walden Ford.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    12 Responses to Waiting for Superman to Rescue Education

    1. Ben C. Ann Arbor, MI says:

      What is lost in the education debate is the fact that we are not all created with equal intelligence. I had classmates in school that clearly are smarter than me. For me the challenge is educating each student to their capacity and defining the playing field. While it is not politcally correct to admit we are not the same, this is the reality. As my Dad says, life is a bell shaped curve and this absolutely applies to the ability to learn.

    2. Leah Oregon says:

      Very excited someone made this movie. The school answer is right in front of us and so simple. I think it is in Sweden they use the voucher system. Every child gets a voucher to go to whatever school they want. Private or Public. The schools compete. They compete for students they compete for good teachers it is a win for everyone involved. My kids go to private Christian school in Oregon. I pay $ 5000. a year for both kids. The church does not match money, the school uses what they get. In this terrible recession they are still full in most classes. full is no more than 24 students. They are getting a great education and involved in sports. Here in Oregon the state and feds pay more than $ 10,000 per year per student. The schools complain that they still do not have enough money they have cut days off the school year, sports, arts, and anything else that will get peoples attention. You tell me why can a private school do it for 2500. and the public cant do it for 10,000. maybe this film will enlighten

    3. John Clancy, Wyandot says:

      The Tea Party movement is rightly focusing on smaller more responsible government. They want to take their country back from a government that is running roughshot over we the people. They want to be heard.

      The enthusiasm of this grassroot movement is starting to affect the attitude of parents who are overtaxed and whose children are being undereducated in government schools.

      The Milton Freidman Foundation is working effectively with these parents who are seeing, more and more, that our structure for educating our children needs to honor the right of parents to decide where their children should be educated. The present monolithic system, largely controlled by unions, prevents us from being sensitive to the great diversity in children. Since good education is

      ultimately highly personal, decisions need to be made at local levels where parents and teachers can be sensitive to the needs of the child.

      As the "Tea Party Mentality" develops, parents will want to work, more and more, with movements like the Milton Freidman Foundation

    4. Duane Phinney Pensac says:

      Step number one, get rid of the union and tenure.

    5. Pingback: Disinfecting Our Public Schools | Talented And Gifted

    6. Pingback: Disinfecting Our Public Schools | Conservablogger

    7. Eric Potter MD says:

      I look forward to seeing the movie. However, I must add a thought to this discussion. The public schools are not broken! What am I talking about? I am simply saying that they are designed to create peer socialized, government dependent, government moldable citizens. They are succeeding quite well in this endeavor!

      If parents continue to sleep and allow the government and the unions to rule, this "success" story will continue. Government and union control of education must end or we will be "successful" at destroying the next generation.

      Eric Potter MD

      Tennessee Director Parental Rights.Org
      http://www.parentalrightstn.blogspot.com http://www.parentalrights.org

    8. Kenny, California says:

      Pure propaganda funded by Bill Gate's deep pockets. It you're over 40 do you remember what would happen if your teacher called your house for discipline? A childs education has always been a home/school partnership. If today's teachers have a discipline problem they rarely call home because there's a good chance THEY will be blamed… then they have two problems! Lack of home/school accountability has handcuffed teachers.

      You can find "dead weight" employees anywhere with hidden cameras…including Microsoft!


    9. mike, vermont says:

      Charter schools are no better than public schools in the long run, a lot of the teachers aren't licensed or relatives of the administrators, they find excuses to toss out children with special needs… and when somthing bad happens, only then do parents find out most aren't answerable to the Department of Education or local school board that authorized them to set up shop. Charter schools are NOT private schools, they're businesses. Most parents don't grasp that idea until it's too late and their only choice is to take their child out of the school.

    10. Ryan, Phoenix Arizon says:

      We need more charter schools so that these children aren't left out in the dry when their number isn't picked. I'm not sure if you've heard about StarShine Academy in Phoenix (www.starshineacademy.org) but they have been on their way to open up schools for every child that needs an effective education. What makes StarShine Academy so special is that they use individualized learning plans and other innovative techniques to create a happy productive student through the development of every childs mind, body, spirit, health, wealth, and happiness. StarShine's curriculum works, which is why they work closely with the United Nations and their Millennium Development Goals.

      StarShine Academy and Guggenheim are on the same page about what is wrong with today's educational system, but I want to inform you about the StarShine Effect, a result that has continued to expand rapidly around the world from the United Kingdom to Monrovia, Liberia.

    11. C. Forest Fortreas, says:

      If anyone wants to discuss problems in the US Education System, it has to start with a discussion of our social safety net. Currently, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) gives parents a chance to reap tax refunds in the multi-thousands every January even if they paid not a dime in Federal taxes. This subsidy has encouraged people least able to support themselves to have additional children to “earn” addition EITC funds. Apples don’t fall far from the tree and neither do characteristics of people’s children. My gosh, children are precious and every one of them dear but we are flooding the school systems with these “apples” due to this government subsidy and if we want to talk about challenges to school systems, the discussion MUST start here like it or not. Students with special needs cost triple and mainstreaming them in the public system and then leaving no child behind has all contributed to falling achievements by US students. Other nations track students so only the best take the standardized tests, whereas all US students take these tests. It is not a level playing field from which to measure. Solutions are to end EITC and instead, increase tax breaks for parents in the upper tax brackets to encourage them to have more children—those “apples” will be more likely to have higher achievements. Track students in our schools so that upper level math, science and English are populated by students who will challenge each other. Last, make it scary for people to fail in school by decreasing our “Great Societies” war on poverty safety net. People should be afraid of failure and currently, it is better to fail in school, live on social programs and just hang out than to do work. We need to return the profit motive to the school system and the fear of failure and when we do that, we will see a turn around in our educational scores.

    12. Evan, Cambridge says:

      Most accurate criticism of the movie on the Harvard Political Review


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