Waiting for Superman
Directed by Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth)
Rated PG for some thematic material, mild language and incidental smoking
Appropriate for all ages
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are probably well-aware that our educational system in America is broken. The education our kids are getting is ranked almost last in the list of developed countries – and it is getting worse, not better. Waiting for Superman is a documentary that explores what is wrong and why, unless drastic action is taken, the problems won’t be fixed. By following children in both good and bad socioeconomic situations, the movie shows the harsh reality that our kids must senselessly face every day.
If you are looking for a film that will both inform you and make you crazily angry – you can’t go wrong here. While the point of the movie is to stir up emotions, the film also does an excellent job of throwing out ideas on how to take action.
It is gut-wrenching watching young children who want to excel having to rely on a lottery system in order to get the chance to get the education they deserve. The film shows a school program in America that actually is working called KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) where kids are all treated like they not only can succeed, but that they should succeed. The only problem is that there are far more kids that want in than spots available. For the children being followed here, there are hopes and dreams of the future at stake and they are convinced, justifiably so, that their only chance is in a random drawing to attend the special school.
It is sad to see the kids count on such a system, but what is more sad is why aren’t schools switching to more successful ways of teaching our youth. While the filmmakers don’t do a great job exploring issues such as bad parenting and bad students, the argument is more for why aren’t kids who want to achieve given the chance. Much blame is placed on the Teacher’s Unions – and the fact that it is almost impossible for a tenured teacher to lose his or her job – even if they are providing an environment that is poisonous to their students. The statistics are sound. Only 1 in 2400 tenured teachers loses his or her license, a number that is not even closely matched by any other profession. My question is will firing the bottom 10% of teachers make a difference? The opinion of this film is absolutely yes. It is the key. Very little effort is placed in proving other arguments like more money for teachers, more money for education, and longer school years, but the central argument is well-defended.
Whatever the cure is, this film shows the need for one and will hopefully be a powerful agent for change. If you are a parent, teacher, or an individual who is just merely concerned that things are going downhill fast, this is a must-see film. Sure it will make you angry, and will most likely make you want to act out of that anger – but maybe that is just what this film is trying to be – a catalyst for revolution. A