A few days ago I saw the movie Waiting for Superman, a much-hyped movie among folks following education reform, and itself well worth the wait.
It was produced modern-documentary style, with a good amount of information and statistics weaved into a story about the nation’s lackluster education system. Bringing the film to life were the personal stories of several families and their efforts to salvage an educational future for their children. Education reform has long been a ripe subject for this kind of treatment, and on the whole this film succeeds in its dual mission of informing and entertaining viewers.
Created by Davis Guggenheim – who also directed An Inconvenient Truth – Waiting for Superman is acutely aware of the politics surrounding education. While AFT president Randi Weingarten makes an appearance in the film, selfish and abusive practices of teachers unions within the public policy process are exposed to the light of day. The practice of storing defective teachers in “rubbers rooms” in New York City, at a cost of many millions to the taxpayer, will surely surprise and upset many viewers, for example.
The movie is a welcome contribution to the dialogue surrounding educational improvement in America. It does not portray the entire range of problems and potential solutions (public charter schools receive the most focus here), but it does put a spotlight on the overall problem and the need to do something about it. I definitely give Waiting for Superman two thumbs up.