Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend an advance screening of the controversial documentary, Waiting for Superman. I was braced for the worst, having heard the hype and was worried the effect the film would have on public view of public education and teachers.
I was pleasantly surprised to find the film informative and not full of teacher bashing. One of the biggest complaints the filmmaker has with public education seems to be that unions protect bad teachers and the part about ‘bad’ teachers passing time in the ‘rubber room’ in New York certainly made me cringe!
The other main point that the filmmaker takes issue with is that where you live dictates which public school your child attends. The film follows a few families in their quest to ‘win the lottery’ so their child can attend a school that is better than the one they are assigned to attend. The alternate schools cannot accept all those that apply and therefore hold a lottery to fill available spots. This part of the film is emotional, especially for the families that took the child along to the lottery drawing. After seeing the film, I read an article in the NY Times that explains how some of the filming was done out of order and that made me feel a bit misled. As the article suggests, if there is a little manipulation in the film, it is quite possible there is more.
All that aside, the main thread of the film for me was that in every case presented, the family valued, supported and appreciated – even demanded a meaningful education for their child. It will take more than a single Superman to correct the systemic issues of an educational system focused on preparing test takers to do the routine jobs of our industrial past. It will take the entire Justice League!
CC Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cherrylet/4981825530/in/photostream/
- Movie Review: Waiting For Superman (geeksofdoom.com)
- A Minute With: School principals on “Waiting for Superman” (reuters.com)
- This teacher reacts to seeing “Waiting for Superman” (coopcatalyst.wordpress.com)