‘Waiting for Superman’ looks at U.S. education


“Waiting for Superman,” which opens in theaters today, should be the catalyst for a conversation on how to change a dysfunctional American public education system that is shortchanging children.  Rochelle Riley in Freep

October 2

Regarding education reform, the new documentary inflames some folks, who then rampage against whomever they perceive as the perp. In The New York Times today, an article looks at the point-of-view that the cause of all the problems are the teachers’ unions.

The many complex problems that have long afflicted public schools are being laid almost solely at the feet of the nation’s teachers’ unions.  NYT books

As with most complex issues, it’s easy to demonize whatever group you choose, but it’s hard to prove guilt. Certainly the unions bear some of the responsibility for these problems, but you can find varied results in school districts that don’t correlate well with either the existence/absence of unions or the strength of unions where they exist.

September 30

A new documentary is coming out that focuses on education in the United States. It is both thought provoking and controversial. Here is the first of several reviews – this one from Gale Collins of the New York Times. She starts by noting that Americans don’t like to discuss education, then continues:

So kudos to the new documentary “Waiting for Superman” for ratcheting up the interest level. It follows the fortunes of five achingly adorable children  and their hopeful, dedicated, worried parents in Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C., as they try to gain entrance to high-performing charter schools. Not everybody gets in, and by the time you leave the theater you are so sad and angry you just want to find something to burn down.  NYT

Note that Collins is not a movie critic. Her concern is that the U.S. education system ranks last or near the bottom among the industrialized nations.

Betsy Sharkey of the Chicago Tribune writes a movie review.

Brick by brick, Guggenheim tears apart the current system, and brick by brick he puts up his idealized schoolhouse filled with passionate teachers ready to rap their math lessons or do whatever it takes for kids to learn. It’s hard not to get caught up in the possibilities. Just how right he is, how accurate his statistics, how successful the innovators will be long-term, only time will tell. For Daisy, Anthony, Emily, Francisco, Bianca and the millions of others who flow through our public school system, you hope that if nothing else the film will invigorate a debate that makes schools better.  Trib

More to come on this movie and this topic…  Your thoughts?


About elkrapidslive

More than a lifelong connection to Elk Rapids
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